Mary King (GBR) showed all her experience to take the lead after an eventful first day of Dressage at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (GBR), the fourth leg of the HSBC FEI Classics™. King, 49, has been riding at Burghley for more than 20 years – she won it in 1996 on Star Appeal – but a momentary lapse in concentration which meant she had to correct an error of course will have cost her valuable marks.
Riding the 14-year-old white-faced chestnut Apache Sauce, fourth here in 2008, she missed part of the final canter work and, on arriving at halt, had to be interrupted by Ground Jury member Marilyn Payne (USA). “I haven’t done that for years,” a smiling King said afterwards, confessing to a “blonde moment”. She continued: “But when I went back and did the flying changes, they came off much better! You never know how Apache Sauce will go; sometimes he can be a real ‘red-head’, but he was on his best behaviour today.”
King’s long-time team mate William Fox-Pitt (GBR), a five-times winner of Burghley and currently second in the $333,000 HSBC FEI Classics™, is in second place on the handsome Argentine Thoroughbred Macchiato – also having suffered a minor aberration.
Fox-Pitt was penalised with an error of course after entering the arena more than 45 seconds after the bell had rung. “I had got myself into a position where I couldn’t see the clock. I’ve never done that one before!” he explained. “Macchiato has started to really come on in the Dressage,” added Fox-Pitt, who won Luhmühlen in 2008 on the 12-year-old bay gelding. “He’s a sensitive and forward-going horse who always tries to please.”
Despite her contrasting lack of experience, third-placed Laura Collett (GBR), 21, contesting her first Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, managed not to forget any of her test. She produced a composed performance on Ginger May Killinghurst, a 15-year-old chestnut mare by Dallas, who has previously been ridden at four-star level by Andrew Nicholson (NZL) and M-J Tumbridge (BER). Collett is a former Junior and Young Rider European Champion, but she admitted: “Those courses now look rather small compared to this!”
Describing her first Burghley as “amazing”, she has walked the Cross-Country with British team manager Yogi Breisner and pronounced it: “A lovely course – as big as you would expect. I’ve had some serious braking problems with Ginger May Killinghurst, but I’ve borrowed a new bit from Lucy Wiegersma and hopefully that will do the trick. I’m definitely going to take the long route at the first of the Dairy Mound Corners.”
Enjoying perfect sunny conditions, 38 of the 77 starters have now performed their Dressage tests in front of Martin Plewa (GER), Marilyn Payne (USA) and Les Smith (GBR), seven of them scoring under 50.
Performances of interest included Pippa Funnell (GBR), back at Burghley for the first time since 2004, in fourth place with the French-bred Mirage d’Elle; Marina Köhncke (GER), seventh on the beautiful bay mare Calma Schelly and making her Burghley debut – her first four-star event since the Sydney Olympics 10 years ago; and Kate Walls (GBR), whose horse Alter Ego, in ninth place, has made a remarkable recovery from breaking his back in a fall at Luhmühlen last year.
But it could be all change tomorrow (Friday). Renowned Dressage expert Ruth Edge (GBR) is still to come on her 2007 Luhmühlen winner Two Thyme, who has been carefully prepared for Burghley, and World silver medallist Clayton Fredericks’ (AUS) first CCI4* with new ride Be My Guest will be of interest.
King and Fox-Pitt still have their second horses to come, and strong performances are expected from the defending champion, Oliver Townend (GBR) on Carousel Quest, plus other former winners Mark Todd (NZL) with Major Milestone and Andrew Nicholson (NZL), on Avebury.
1 Mary King/Apache Sauce (GBR) 44.8*
2 William Fox-Pitt/Macchiato (GBR) 46.8*
3 Laura Collett/Ginger May Killinghurst (GBR) 47.0
4 Pippa Funnell/Mirage d’Elle (GBR) 48.2
5 Capt Geoff Curran/The Jump Jet (IRL) 48.8
6 James Robinson/Comanche (GBR) 49.0
7 Marina Köhncke/Calma Schelly (GER) 49.3
8 Anna Warnecke/Twinkle Bee (GER) 50.5
9 Kate Walls/Altar Ego (GBR) 51.7
10= Nici Wilson/Oingy Boingy (GBR) 52.0
10= Michael Pollard/Wonderful Will (USA) 52.0
*error of course
Follow live results and coverage on www.burghley-horse.co.uk
HSBC FEI Classics™ Standings (after 3 of 5 events)
1 Andreas Dibowski 22
2 William Fox-Pitt (GBR) 15
3 Paul Tapner (AUS) 15
4 Sharon Hunt (GBR) 15
5 Ingrid Klimke (GER) 12
6 Phillip Dutton (USA) 12
7 Mary King (GBR) 12
8 Becky Holder (USA) 10
9 Daisy Berkeley (GBR) 10
10 Andrew Nicholson (NZL) 8
HSBC FEI Classics™ Calendar of Events in 2010
1. 21-25 April - Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event (USA)
2. 30 April - 03 May - Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (GBR)
3. 17-20 June - Luhmühlen presented by E.ON Avacon (GER)
4. 2-5 September - Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (GBR)
5. 4-7 November- Les Etoiles de Pau (FRA
HSBC has contributed US$ 1million to the series over the last three years. Prize-money is awarded, as follows, to the top five riders on the leaderboard after the fifth and final event:
PRIZE WINNERS OF THE 2009 SEASON
1. Oliver Townend (GBR) - US$ 150,000 (Series champion);
2. Dirk Schrade (GER) - US$ 75,000;
3. Andreas Dibowski - (GER) US$ 50,000;
4. William Fox-Pitt (GBR) - US$ 33,000;
5. Sam Griffiths (AUS) - US$ 25,000
Caption: Mary King and the white-faced chestnut Apache Sauce have a two-point lead after the first day of Dressage at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, the fourth leg of the HSBC FEI Classics™. (Photo: Kit Houghton/FEI)