Fox-Pitt, who had led from the start of the event on Ballincoola, could afford his eight penalties for two fences down but, once those poles had fallen, there was no margin for error.
"I came round the corner to the last two fences thinking that I mustn't start grabbing or kicking the horse, I had to keep riding him in a normal way," Fox-Pitt said.
By keeping his head, Fox-Pitt withheld the late challenge of Australia's Phillip Dutton on The Foreman, one of only three horses to complete clear show jumping rounds within the time. Andrew Nicholson, of New Zealand, dropped one place with three show jumping errors on Lord Killinghurst, who filled third place here for the third time.
He was just ahead of Mary King, who would have been runner-up on Call Again Cavalier but for 7.2 time penalties on Saturday's steeplechase course - an error for which she totally blamed herself. Ironically, the steeplechase will be redundant next year when Burghley adopts eventing's short format.
This was Fox-Pitt's third Burghley victory. He had first won on Chaka in 1994 at the age of 24 before he came to appreciate quite how hard it is to succeed here. Now aged 36, he could say: "It certainly doesn't happen easily."
But, apart from one sticky moment at the Dairy Farmer's Choice - which was the 19th of 31 fences he tackled on Saturday - he and Ballincoola made Mark Phillips's cross-country course look deceptively easy as they cruised smoothly around it.
Captain Phillips could be proud of his achievement in designing a course that asked plenty of awkward questions but remained horse-friendly. The 150,000 spectators who were here on Saturday enjoyed the sport at its absolute best.Reuse content