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Saturday, September 06, 2008  •  16:58 GMT

William Fox-Pitt riding TAMARILLO

William Fox-Pitt riding TAMARILLO


A gutsy performance at the end of cross-country day put William Fox-Pitt and Mary Guiness’s homebred, Anglo-Arab Tamarillo to the top of the leader board at The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. Despite the worst of the day’s weather, having to endure heavy rain during their round, the pair recorded the fastest time of the day coming home 14 seconds inside the time to gain a commanding lead of over 10penalties.
“Once you get going you don’t necessarily notice the rain and I did remember that Zara (Phillips) won the European title at Blenheim in a deluge so I just thought go for it,” said William who was riding the sometimes unpredictable16-year-old at his first Burghley. “I had no idea whether he would go or get bogged down but as Burghley is a busy course he had no time to do anything other than concentrate on the job. In the end he proved incredible and he nipped round and was really fun to ride,” said William who complimented the Burghley ground staff. “I was able to ride on the edge of the course in places where the going was better but in fact considering all the rain that has fallen the ground held up remarkably well and is a credit to the staff and all they do throughout the year.”

William, a member of this year’s British Olympic bronze medal team is well placed for another Burghley title – he has already won four times at the event – as he also has Ballincoola handily placed in third. Unlike first time Tamarillo, the Irish-bred Ballincoola, a winner here in 2005, is competing at his sixth and last Burghley having so far completed on every occasion and been placed; 27th, 11th, 6th, 1st and last year 5th.

Having enjoyed the lead for nearly four hours, American rider Phillip Dutton, who formerly rode for Australia and changed nationality last year, dropped to second place with Woodburn. Phillip had Woodburn in England as he was the reserve horse for the American Olympic team. “Coming here was the natural progression of his education,” said Phillip who was also impressed by the going. “Considering the amount of rain we have had and the heaviest I have seen for a long time I was amazed how well the ground took it. But I also was confident that I had a bold galloping horse and at no time did it seem too deep or unsafe.”

Mary King also finished on both her horses and is well placed in fourth and fifth place with just two penalties separating her rides.

Sadly Lucy Wiegersma, who was well placed to makes amends for losing her place on the Olympic team after Shaabrak suffered an ill-timed foot abscess, retired after the thoroughbred refused at Fence 22, Capabilities Classic. Other notable scalps were dressage leader Ruth Edge who also decided to call it a day after Mr Dumbledore ran past the corner at Fence Seven (The Land Rover Discovery Valley), Andrew Hoy who retired former winner Moon Fleet, another to run out at fence 22 and Belgian competitor Karin Donkers who retired previously fourth placed Roses Merlin at Fence 11, The Trout Hatchery.