AT the 50th anniversary of The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, fittingly, another record was set by William Fox-Pitt who became the first rider to take the title six times after steering Mrs Catherine Witt’s Parklane Hawk to victory.
This was Parklane Hawk’s debut at four-star level and is an exciting addition to the Fox-Pitt stable. At 11 years old he could well be a hot contender for London 2012.
Lying second after dressage with one of only two sub-40 scores, William was kicking himself for an elementary error after making his final halt and salute on the centre line at L instead of X – particularly as only 10 penalties separated the top 21 riders at this stage.
Horsted Keynes-based Clare Lewis was less than happy with her dressage with Sidnificant which left her in equal 53rd place. However, her score (58.5) was only two behind the great Mark Todd on Major Milestone and ahead of several other well-known event riders, among them Jeanette Brakewell and Polly Stockton. Clare blamed herself for her disappointing mark, admitting to having ridden inaccurate serpentines and getting the wrong canter strike-off after the rein-back. “I was so upset with myself. He made the same mistake at Badminton and I thought I was ready for him this time – he never does it at home,” she said, referring to the strike-off.
Still, a good cross-country round – something well within Sidnificant’s capabilities – could make all the difference. Two horses were withdrawn prior to going cross-country and, of the 78 starters, 58 finished. Among the early casualties was 2009 winner Oliver Townend.
But Sidnificant was foot perfect and Clare took only one alternative (easier) route on the course, at the Leaf Pit where the horse had had an uncharacteristic run-out at the arrow-head last year. Somewhat happier after this phase, Clare commented: “He was fabulous, he went really well. I didn’t get the greatest shot at the boat fence but he’s a fabulous jumper. I know that unless I commit a heinous crime he will jump. I’m very lucky to have him.”
Clare added just eight time penalties to her score and, with only 10 riders completing the course within the time, pulled herself up to 31st place and went on to a flawless show jumping phase to achieve her best ever result in 23rd place.
For full story and pictures, plus more equestrian news, see Sussex Horse World, West Sussex Gazette.