They took every straight route and survived just two worrying moments, at the Upper Trout Hatchery and at the Sunken Road. 'The Cool Customer tries his heart out,' Hollingsworth said.
Many of the favourites had less happy experiences. Helen Bell, for instance, was one of many to fault at fence seven, Herbert's Hollow, a rails and ditch combination which also stopped the dressage leader Pippa Nolan on Metronome and former champion Lucinda Green, riding Ernie Fenwick's Up River.
Although 30 of the 77 starters put in clear rounds, only Brynley Powell on Spiderman III finished inside the optimum time of 12 minutes on the cross-country phase. This carried him from 46th after the dressage into second place, 0.6 behind.
World champion Blyth Tait, only 45th in dressage, rode a beautiful round on Delta for just 1.6 time faults, good enough for third place. His skill in the showjumping arena will put pressure on the leaders today.Reuse content