Chris Burton retains his lead following a dramatic cross-country day at The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials and looks set to become the first Australian to win Burghley for 10 years.

Riding the 11-year old Nobilis 18, Burton attacked the Captain Mark Phillips course with gusto and galloped home clear with just 3.2 time penalties, the second fastest of the day.

Only 40 of the 78 starters completed the course with no one arriving home within the allotted 11 minute 11 seconds time allowed. Andrew Nicholson predicted that this would be the case after he announced yesterday “I will be surprised if any of the cross-country riders arrive home within the time.”

Course designer and previous Burghley winner Captain Mark Phillips said the course was “harder for the riders than I thought it would be. The disappointing thing was the number of falls we had today, although much of it was to do with rider error. The 1.80m drop off the first element of the Trout Hatchery combination saw many riders fall forward on landing; and they were the riders that paid the price.” Six riders either retired or were eliminated at the fence.

Not all of the riders fell foul of the Captain’s course including Burghley veteran Nicholson riding Nereo, who galloped past his name at the Winner’s Avenue, and finished his round clear to end the day in third place.

Jonelle Price, now in fourth place, was quickest of all, only four seconds over time (1.6 penalties) on Classic Moet, a remarkable feat when most riders were returning home with time penalties in double figures. Price however was cross with herself after taking a detour at the Dairy Farm (fence 14).

Second place went to Tim Price on his second ride of the day, Ringwood Sky Boy, who when commenting on his wife’s round said, “Jonelle gave me the confidence that the course was rideable.” Tim goes into the showjumping 11.5 penalties behind Burton.

Photo courtesy of Stephen Bartholomew 

Results after cross country

1 Christopher Burton/Nobilis 18 (AUS) 33.4

2 Tim Price/Ringwood Sky Boy (NZL) 44.9

3 Andrew Nicholson/Nereo (NZL) 47.2

4 Jonelle Price/Classic Moet (NZL) 50.1

5 Bettina Hoy/Designer 10 (GER) 53.7

6 Sir Mark Todd/NZB Campino (NZL) 59.0

7 Caroline Powell/Onwards and Upwards (NZL) 59.4

8 Cedric Lyard/Cadeau Du Roi (FRA) 59.6

9 Bill Levett/Improvise (AUS) 62.5

10 Oliver Townend/Samuel Thomas II (GBR) 63.0