William Fox-Pitt: “It’s frustrating, but Macchiato gave me an encouraging ride. I don’t really know what went wrong; perhaps he just didn’t lock on to the fence and realise what he had to do. It’s where I went wrong with Stunning back in the 2004 World Cup final, so perhaps it’s me that has a problem with the fence!” Nicholson’s hopes were then placed on the 9-year-old Avebury, 4th after Dressage, but the young grey, who was going well and confidently, missed the jump out of the last water (fence 27) and tripped, firing his rider onto the ground. Nicholson had to have stitches for a cut lip. Susanna Bordone (ITA) will be pleased with her first ride, Ava, who is in 9th place after accruing 17.2 time penalties, but she was eliminated for 3 refusals on Blue Moss, with which she was in 3rd place after Dressage. Man of the moment Oliver Townend (GBR) continues to ride the crest of a wave, setting himself up for a third 4* victory this year, not to mention his longed for victory in the HSBC FEI Classics™. SIGN UP Following a beautifully timed Cross-Country round at Les Etoiles de Pau CCI**** (FRA) on the genuine grey Thoroughbred Carousel Quest, he now has a Jumping fence in hand over Dirk Schrade (GER), who produced a classic performance on King Artus to rise three places to 2nd place going into the final phase. Vive La FanceFrench riders seemed to put a disappointing HSBC FEI European Championship behind them with some superb Cross-Country riding, showing the rest of the world that Course-Designer Pierre Michelet’s accuracy testing routes were perfectly rideable as long as you showed commitment. Statistics34 horses started Cross-Country27 completed21 clear rounds1 inside the optimum time of 10 min 37sec6 horses eliminated (3 falls)This year, Townend has won the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (GBR) on Flint Curtis and The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (GBR) on Carousel Quest, in addition to an 8th place at the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event (USA) on Carousel Quest Clea Phillipps (GBR) and Lead The Way ran out at the same spot as Armada, and Jan Bynny (USA) and Waterfront ran out at the narrow fences on a mound at 11 (Les triangles) and at the corner on a sharp turn at fence 26 (La trouée). Pascal Leroy (FRA) was particularly noteworthy, rising 6 places to 4th on the 9-year-old Minos de Petra, while veteran hero Jean Teulere (FRA) is lying 6th on the magnificent big horse Matelot du Grand Val and Rodolphe Scherer (FRA) is 7th on the remarkable 19-year-old Fairfax, who will be retired amid great ceremony after the Jumping phase. Fox-Pitt’s mishap occurred at the corner at 25 (La cour de ferme), while Austin O’Connor (IRL) had the gross misfortune to fall from The Pocket Rocket at the final combination, fence 30 (La butte aux palmiers). Andreas Dibowski (GER) has slipped a place to 3rd with 4.8 Cross-Country time penalties on Euroridings Butts Leon, but Lucy Wiegersma (GBR) will be well satisfied with her rise of a place to 5th after a solid performance on her Blenheim CCI*** winner Granntevka Prince, a 9-year-old at his first 4*. “I’m not rich, but I am richer!” he joked. “It was a very nice feeling to have the HSBC FEI Classics™ in the bag, but it was very difficult to concentrate and to ride sensibly, knowing I’d won. I had to tell myself to shut up and concentrate, because there’s still a long way to go before I add Pau to my list of wins.” Email* ConcentrationTownend admits that when he saw William Fox-Pitt (GBR), his rival for the HSBC FEI Classics™ title, crash out of the reckoning with a run-out on Macchiato, he had to force himself to concentrate, but that it did give him the leeway to take a long route at the narrow houses in the second water (Le gué des pistes, 20/21/22). Where it Went WrongAndrew Nicholson (NZL), the rider representative and a regular and popular visitor to Pau, had a thoroughly bad day. He had a run-out at fence 17 (Le coffin), a spread on top of a steep slope to an arrowhead, when the exuberant Armada over jumped. However, their fast time of 2.4 penalties means they are still in 14th place. More from Horse Sport:Christilot Boylen Retires From Team SportAfter an exemplary career as one of Canada’s top Dressage riders, seven-time Olympian Christilot Boylen has announced her retirement from team competition.2020 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair CancelledFor only the second time in its history, The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair has been cancelled but plans are being made for some virtual competitions.Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Statement on 2020 EventAs the Province of Ontario starts to reopen, The Royal’s Board and staff will adhere to all recommendations put forward by government and health officials.Government Financial Assistance for Ontario FarmersOntario Equestrian has recently released this update of several financial assistance packages available, including those for farm business. Both riders, plus Schrade, now face the exciting possibility of getting into the top 5 money prizes in the HSBC FEI Classics™. Rodolphe Scherer (FRA): “Fairfax is an amazing horse. When Heidi Antikazides gave him to me to ride, it was the best present I’d ever had. For the first time, I was nervous about riding him today, because I very much wanted him to retire on a good note. He is so well that people have said ‘why don’t you ride him next year, try to break a record,’ but the important thing to me is that I stop when people think he should go on.” Here, his compatriot Mark Kyle (IRL) made his only mistake of the day in 3 rides, when, last on course, he ran out at the narrow fence at the bottom of the steep slope and ran into the string on Step In Time. Kyle’s heroic effort – 3 Cross-Country rides in 2.5 hours – was, however, rewarded with 21st and 23rd places on Willow Fairgreen ATTR and Nitetime Cavalier respectively. QuotesOliver Townend: “Carousel Quest is in a different league to most other horses. My main worry was that he can jump so big that I was a little concerned about the spread to arrowhead at 17, but he is so obedient to ride that he will always get out of trouble. We nearly made a mess of the last combination, and had to do that on a hop, skip and jump, but again he is easy to correct. And the way he galloped home so well made me very happy.” Subscribe to the Horse Sport newsletter and get an exclusive bonus digital edition! Horse Sport Enews We’ll send you our regular newsletter and include you in our monthly giveaways. PLUS, you’ll receive our exclusive Rider Fitness digital edition with 15 exercises for more effective riding. Results1 Oliver Townend/Carousel Quest (GBR) 42.5 + 0.8 = 43.32 Dirk Schrade/King Artus (GER) 46.7 + 0.8 = 47.53 Andreas Dibowski/Euroridings Butts Leon (GER) 43.8 + 4.8 = 48.64 Pascal Leroy/Minos de Petra (FRA) 49.7 + 0.4 = 50.15 Lucy Wiegersma/Granntevka Prince (GBR) 47.5 + 8.4 = 55.96 Jean Teulere/Matelot du Grand Val (FRA) 54.8 + 1.6 = 56.47 Rodolphe Scherer/Fairfax (FRA) 53.8 + 9.2 = 638 Gwendolen Fer/Leria du Ter (FRA) 64.2 + 0 = 64.29 Susanna Bordone/Ava (ITA) 47.5 + 17.2 = 64.710 Joe Meyer/Clifton Lush (NZL) 50 + 14.8 = 64.8Follow results on www.event-pau.fr Pierre Michelet (FRA, Course Designer) “At first I thought it was too easy! But then I realised the time would be difficult. I planned to have two or three inside the time, so I am very pleased. Most people thought the second water would be difficult, and some riders took their time there. It is part of French riders’ culture to take the straight routes, but then the British and German riders followed suit, and did it very well.” Gwendolen Fer (FRA), 24, was exceptional, producing the only round within the optimum time; she is now in 8th place on Leria du Ter and in line to win the HSBC FEI Training Bursary for the best 4* debut.