Jock Paget has a double-handed grip on proceedings at the end of cross-country day at the Land Rover Burghley CCI**** (England) on Sept. 7. Occupying the top two spots with Clifton Promise and Clifton Lush, the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (England) winner has given himself every chance of adding the Burghley trophy to his expanding collection of silverware.
“I had a few hairy moments on both horses, including one at the Cottesmore Leap (fence 21) on Promise, when we almost jumped a fence judge,” revealed the New Zealand Olympian. “The jump judge was apparently flagging me down to stop from the side of the fence because the Ground Jury wanted to look at Promise’s nose, which had spots of blood on it. I saw her waving a flag as I came round the corner, but by that time I had seen my distance and was committed on my stride.”
Having ascertained that Promise had bitten his tongue but that it was not adversely affecting him, Paget was allowed to carry on. Coincidently, he'd also been stopped mid-course on his first horse.
“Whereas the hold helped Lush [who had knocked his nose with his knee], it wasn’t really in Promise’s favor,” he said. “It took a while to get him back in his stride and focused again.”
Lush was stopped because he had an awkward jump over fence 6 and bumped his nose with his knee causing it to bleed a little bit. "The vet wanted to make sure it wasn’t coming from the lungs, and once he could tell that he let me go," said Paget.
Watch a fly through of the course.
Jock and Promise have a fence in hand for tomorrow’s show jumping. On a distinctly Kiwi dominated leaderboard, Andrew Nicholson lies in third, fifth and eighth places with his trio of rides, Avebury, Nereo and Calico Joe. Avebury and Calico Joe were two of only three horses to beat the clock and finish under the 11:24 optimum (the third was Clifton Lush).
“Calico Joe [Andrew’s first ride] is a very fast horse,” said Nicholson. “I thought that if the other riders saw me go the long route at the Land Rover Dairy Farm and still make the time, it might work to my advantage as they might think the time is do-able. But I know just how fast the horse is; they don’t.
“Avebury was pretty much foot-perfect all the way round and really enjoyed nipping up and down the hills, whereas I always knew it would be harder for Nereo with his massive stride,” continued Nicholson. “He wanted to jump some of the little mounds at the beginning of the course, so it felt like I was going over extra fences.”
Just 1.3 penalties separates second to fifth places with Great Britain’s William Fox-Pitt and Parklane Hawk occupying fourth spot on 42.3 having added 0.8 time penalties.
“All the way through he felt like he was doing the time, and then he suddenly wasn’t,” said Fox-Pitt. “He was magic and straight all the way, so I’m really frustrated to be two seconds over when it felt like I was on the clock all the way.”
Germany's Ingrid Klimke, who had been in second with Butts Abraxxas, fell to seventh with 9.2 time penalties.
The lone U.S. entry, Buck Davidson and Park Trader parted company at fence 20 but are both OK. Canadian rider Rebecca Howard turned in a clean round with a few time penalties aboard Riddle Master to sit 17th.
Of the 62 cross-country starters there were 39 clear rounds, three of them inside the time.
“It was a brilliant course,” said Fox-Pitt. “Long may it stay like this.”