"I've been having trouble with his waistline, so I thought that this run would slim him down a bit before he goes to Saumur in three weeks' time," King said. She was not thinking of the pounds 1,000 first prize (a tempting reward by normal one-day event standards) as King William used his long ground-eating stride on the sunny hills of this lovely parkland. "It only came into my mind as we went through the finish," she said.
Matt Ryan, the 1992 Olympic champion from Australia, said that thoughts of the prize money prompted him to push on faster than he might have done for a lesser reward with Kibah Sandstone, with whom he finished seventh at Burghley last year. He eventually finished second, just ahead of David Herron on Custom Todden (who had the fastest cross-country time) and the reigning world and Olympic champion, New Zealand's Blyth Tait on Welton Envoy.
King's two top horses, Star Appeal and King Solomon, sustained leg injuries last year and are due to be scanned again early next month. All being well, they will compete again in July before going to either Burghley or the European Championships.
Mark Todd started yesterday with a ducking when Aberjack lost his footing in deep water (the level was subsequently reduced) but he had luckily come equipped with the dry clothes in which he later rode both Dazzling Light and Eyespy II to Open Intermediate victories.