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Thursday, September 01, 2011  •  13:08 BST

William Fox-Pitt riding PARKLANE HAWK

William Fox-Pitt riding PARKLANE HAWK

FOX-PITT SWOOPS INTO THE LEAD

William Fox-Pitt and Parklane Hawk head the leader board halfway through the first day of dressage at The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. The pair was the only one whose score managed to break into the 30’s – just – scoring 39.7 despite William being penalised for an error of course as he made his final halt at the wrong marker.

“Getting into the thirties has a good psychological effect and I am delighted with him, I just hope that mistake doesn’t prove expensive,” said William. “Parklane Hawk coped really well; he has a superb brain on him, a lovely temperament, a good trot and is easy to ride – all those things you dream of in a horse and I have a lot of faith in him.” Parklane Hawk, who is owned by Catherine Witt, was the winner of Blenheim last year. He is a 12-year-old New Zealand bred Thoroughbred by Grosvenor who is also the sire of Santos the ride of New Zealander Blyth Tait. Burghley will be the first four-star event for Parklane Hawk.

“The course is big and it walks big and is built for a bold, brave horse,” said William who also rides Neuf Des Coeurs tomorrow. “Parklane Hawk is a brave horse and gave me a lovely ride at Blenheim and I am optimistic that he is ready for this challenge.”

Veteran New Zealander Andrew Nicholson scored a tidy 42. with Rosemary Barlow’s grey Avebury and is currently second. “I was very pleased with that – he is very sound and doesn’t mind the atmosphere which was quite big for early Thursday as there looks to be more people here than usual at this stage.” Andrew who has won here on two previous occasions believes that the course this year is definitely different. “It’s big and pretty much Burghley but with a good change of style and hopefully we will enjoy it,” said Andrew who also has a second ride, Nereo, later tomorrow afternoon.

Mary King and Apache Sauce, who has been well placed here in previous years, are currently third. The dark chestnut by the Thoroughbred Endoli has not always been the most reliable in the dressage arena. “I am chuffed to bits – that was definitely one of his better tests. He can be a bit of a redhead and can turn from calm to excited just like that but today was lovely,” said Mary who is impressed by the cross-country course. “It is an amazing beautifully presented course. The fences are not as technical as we have seen in recent years – it is a bigger, bolder straighter course. Apache Sauce is very capable as long as his rider does the right thing,” said Mary with reference to her fall at the European Championships in Luhmuhlen last week.