Nolan felt that Metronome, with whom she won the Bramham three-day event in June, lacked the sparkle he had shown in practice, but she is nevertheless leading from France's Didier Courreges on Robin des Boi and Paddy Muir on her home-bred Archie Brown.
Muir, 29, finished fifth here in 1988 on Barnabus Brown, now retired. She would almost certainly be in the lead but for some over-exuberence from the attractive grey gelding she is now partnering.
Nolan and Metronome will be the second partnership to tackle tomorrow's 30 cross-country fences, designed by Capt Mark Phillips. They include The Water Cascade, where Nolan thought it might be an idea to sing or shout on the approach so that her horse cannot hear the hiss of water jets.
This is a novel obstacle on a course designed to test the accuracy and training of the horse rather than courage. Fast routes, including several narrow arrowheads, are likely to be penalised by a run-out rather than a fall.
Phillips, who designs courses in the United States, has become increasingly fearful about animal rights groups there. 'They could shut the sport down in a week if they saw any bad falls on television,' he said. Since the next Olympics are to be held in Atlanta, the animal rights protesters could be more of a threat to three-day eventing surviving as an Olympic discipline than members of the International Olympic Committee.
BURGHLEY REMY MARTIN HORSE TRIALS (Stamford, Lincs): Standings after first day of dressage: 1 Metronome (P Nolan, GB) 47.8 pens; 2 Robin des Bois V (D Courreges, Fr) 49.4; 3 Archie Brown (P Muir, GB) 50.6; 4 Mariachi (P le Goupil, Fr) 51.8; 5 The Cool Customer (C Hollingsworth, GB) 52.2; 6 Enterprise V (C Landolt, Swit) 54.6.Reuse content