What a day for Piggy French! After 24 attempts at the 5* level, she pulled ahead of Oliver Townend in the show jumping phase, to win by 0.8 seconds on Vanir Kamira. Her clear round was unexpected as show jumping is not the mare’s strong suit.
Oliver Townend finished second on his 2017 Burghley winner, Ballaghmor Class and sixth on Cillnabradden Evo. He wasn’t the only rider with two in the top ten. Christopher Burton finished third on Cooley Lands and fourth on Graf Liberty.
Andrew Nicholson finished fifth on Silver Springs.
It was particularly cheering to see William Fox-Pitt finishing ninth on Little Fire. What a comeback for him!
XC shook up the standings
Much of the change in the leaderboard happened yesterday during XC. It was a tough course with a few fences, like the Normandy bank and Shogun Hollow making me gasp a few times. Seventy-nine horse and rider combinations ran cross country. Of those, 59 – or 75% – completed, while 47 – or 59% – finished without jumping penalties. Five pairs finished both clear and within the time. Of those who didn’t finish, four were eliminated, while a further fifteen opted to retire.
Oliver Townend led after XC, coming in just over the allowed time.
Piggy French, with her deprecating humor, said of her mare:
She comes into her own around Badminton and Burghley; she runs round Intermediates like a scopeless yak, and I say that with all fondness! It never fills you with a lot of confidence, until she gets here – and then she turns into another horse. She grows and seems to say, ‘c’mon, mum, what are you so worried about?’
Frangible Pins Do their Job
It was a relief to see the frangible pins working well during the event. Several pairs had fences come down when the pin broke, including Tom McEwen and Toledo de Kerser, Padraig McCarthy and Mr Chunky, and Tom Crisp and Liberty and Glory, Pippa Funnell and Billy Walk On, Will Furlong and Collien, Sara Bullimore and Reve du Ruet, and Emily King and Dargun.
Imagine what could have gone wrong if those rails hadn’t come down. As it was, there were no serious injuries among either horses or riders.