The star-studded showpiece CIC4*-S class is headed by 21-year-old Mollie Summerland on her smart-moving Charly Van Ter Heiden on the excellent score of 23.8. She holds a 3.3-penalty lead over her trainer, Pippa Funnell, riding the Badminton trailblazer, MGH Grafton Street.
Mollie, who is now running her own yard in Lincolnshire, only has the one horse at this level so a lot is riding on tomorrow’s jumping phases, especially as she had the disappointment of her saddle slipping on her last major outing, at Bramham.
“I was very down after that, but I have been working hard with the World Class sport psychologist and have realised that these things sometimes happen,” said Mollie, who tried a different warm-up routine with the 10-year-old Charly, a horse that had only done dressage when she bought him.
“I was falling into the trap of over-riding him before his dressage, so I lunged him for 20 minutes and then warmed him up for half an hour. He was on the verge of bubbling over – I’m not that experienced so trying to control these Valegro-like changes felt a bit out of my comfort zone – but I managed to contain him.”
American rider Liz Halliday-Sharp is in third place on Deniro Z, Australians Catherine Burrell (Milan) and Kevin McNab (Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam) are fourth and fifth and Somerset-based Alex Bragg completes an international top six with sixth place on Hester.
The CIC4*-S class will be show jumping in the main arena from 9am, followed by cross-country over event director Alec Lochore’s revamped course from 10.45am.
CCI3*-S section A
Piggy French (GBR) rode Alison Swinburn, John and Chloe Perry's Brookfield Quality (pictured) to a win in 3* section A, the partnership's fourth win of the season. Dressage leaders Marcelo Tosi (BRA) and Starbucks had a hugely expensive showjumping round after which they jumped a steady cross country clear to plummet down to 58th place.
A single showjump rail down prevented Adam Harvey (GBR) and Picasso V from successfully defending the class they won last year, opening the door for Piggy French to climb above them on the leaderboard.
“Brookfield Quality is a fabulous jumper and very professional. I've not been riding him long and at home he almost felt too careful. I still have work to do, but he can definitely go to the next level – we just need to cement our relationship.”
Sir Mark Todd completed the top three, finishing 0.2 of a penalty behind Adam riding Leonidas II, a five-star horse who is back competing after time off.
CCI3*-S section B
Second after the dressage phase, Andrew Nicholson and the Spanish bred As Is claimed section B, having showjumped clear and come home three seconds over the cross-country optimum time. As Is is a full brother to Damaso, a winner for Andrew in a novice class yesterday. The horse recently finished seventh in the CCI4*-L at Bramham so this was a relatively easy spin for the horse.
Dressage leaders Hannah Bate and Fanta Boy dropped well down the order with penalties in both jumping phases.
Piggy French was back in the money, this time riding Brookfield Inocent in to second place. Disappointingly Calling Card dropped from third to fourth after picking up 3.2 cross-country time penalties when having to circle between fences in the second half of the course.
“I had a slight brake failure with Calling Card after a downhill gallop and couldn't get my turn – but I'm sure it's fixable. Brookfield Inocent is such a lovely, talented horse, I'm so excited about him. He just wants to do it,” said Piggy.
Completing the top three were Laura Collett and Sir Papillon who were faultless in both the jumping phases.