William Fox-Pitt has had a pleasing return to competition, completing on both his top horses in an Open Intermediate class at Burnham Market at the weekend.
It was the British rider’s first foray back into competition after he was injured in a cross-country fall in France late last year.
He said he had chosen his first competitive partners carefully, opting to ride the experienced Cool Mountain and Parklane Hawk.
“It was great to be out again at my first event of the season. I decided to just ride two horses rather than four, to be sensible with the hope of being able to do them justice. Happily both went really well,” Fox-Pitt said.
“They are both old pros and literally carried me round – I only had to hold on,” he said. Always planning to take both horses steadily across country, he enjoyed two confident clear rounds. “It’s a great relief to finish in one piece and feeling good.”
Cool Mountain did a nice test to score 30, rolled a pole in the show jumping but jumped a good round. “He felt very good cross-country and looked after me all the way,” Fox-Pitt said.
“Parklane Hawk was a little bit more wound up in the dressage but overall went nicely. It was his first competition for quite a while. He show jumped also really well and just touched one fence, and was very good and keen cross country. There wasn’t much in the OI to back him off, so it was good for my fitness to hold him together a bit.”
Fox-Pitt said it was “a beautiful day, perfect conditions so I was was very fortunate. It was great to be out again to blow all the cobwebs off.”
His comeback continues this week with Portman on Tuesday, Larkhill on Saturday and Weston on Sunday.
• Fox-Pitt’s open intermediate section (M) was won by New Zealand’s Tim Price and his new ride OBOS Cooley, previously campaigned by Piggy French. Oliver Townend was second on Andrew Nicholson’s previous ride, Cillnabradden Ebo, and third on Cooley SRS.
Townend also won Burnham’s feature CIC3* class, which this year formed the first leg of the new Shearwater Insurance Tri-Star Grand Slam.
The leading British Eventing points winner for the last two years has dominated this class over the years: he won in 2007 and 2009 on his future Badminton winner Flint Curtis; in 2008 on Coup de Coeur; in 2010 with Ashdale Cruise Master; Pepper Anne triumphed in 2012; he won twice in 2014 when two sections were held, riding Black Tie and Armada; and in 2015 it was Mr Hiho at the top of the leaderboard with Armada 0.2 of a penalty behind in second place.
This year Townend not only won the class with Angela Hislop’s Cooley Master Class but also took the runner up spot with Andrew Cawthray’s Note Worthy.
Earlier in the day Australia’s Sammi Birch and The Court Jester claimed the CIC2*, keeping Sweden’s Ludwig Svennerstal and Master Ping back in the runner up spot with Germany’s Pia Munker, the dressage leader on Louis M, in third. Izzy Taylor was the best of the Brits in fourth, making it a truly international class.
Advanced riders wrapped up the day, with a win for Bettina Hoy riding Designer 10 ahead of Tim Price in second and fourth, his rides separated by Izzy Taylor who is standing in for Piggy French on Westwood Mariner.
Ireland’s Meghan Healy proved herself an exciting up and coming talent, winning Intermediate section J on her own Lui D. Healy is based with Tiny Clapham and now rides full time, having just finished a degree in Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology. This was her first intermediate win, and next time the combination will tackle their first advanced class at Belton Park.
Jo Ward won section K riding DHI Up Beat, while Townend won section L on Lanfranco, and Tim Price got his new partnership with OBOS Cooley, previously campaigned by Piggy French, off to a flying start with a win in open intermediate M. In the process Price denied Townend a second Saturday win, with the latter taking both second and third places in this section.
In the novice divisions, Julia Norman on Joblesse van Bareelhof won section N and Emily Llewellyn won the Open Novice with Exclusive. The final winner of Saturday, in the Under 18 Open Novice, was Heidi Coy riding Forrests Foxy Lady.
BE100 competitors had been first out on Friday, and Ipswich based Leilia Paske claimed the under 18 section riding Fernhill First Friend. There were also wins for Eleanor Hope (Aylesbury), Simon Grieve (Tilton on the Hill), Jamie Atkinson (Langley Park) and Gaby Cooke (Oakham).
Friday’s two novice sections were won by Izzy Taylor from Banbury riding Legacy and Australian rider Andrew Hoy (Melton Mowbray) on Right To Plays Jack Sparrow.