Equestrianism: Fox-Pitt repeats double success at Bramham trials

Click to follow
The Independent Online

William Fox-Pitt repeated his success of two years ago when he filled the top two places at the Bramham International Horse Trials, this time with Mr Dumbledore and Idalgo. Both are nine-year-olds who came to the Yorkshire venue as unknown quantities, since neither had previously contested a three-day event at three-star level.

Thanks to the tactful skill of their rider, both came through with flying colours, defeating Sir Lancelot IV (with whom Polly Stockton finished third) by convincing margins. Caroline Powell, a British-based New Zealander, put in two solid performances to finish fourth and fifth.

Fox-Pitt had taken a chance when he bought the Australian-bred Mr Dumbledore on the strength of a video. The horse arrived in England in April last year and still had his winter coat when he finished second at Burgie a couple of months later. "He's very innocent and easily distracted," Fox-Pitt said of the handsome bay, who wore sheepskin cheek pieces in the showjumping which aided his concentration by reducing his field of vision.

By then Fox-Pitt already had the first prize in safe-keeping, having jumped clear on Idalgo who was lying second overnight. This French-bred chestnut had displayed an alarmingly wayward streak after he was bought from European champion Nicholas Touzaint two years ago. "Once he'd left, I think there were celebrations in France," Fox-Pitt said.

The British rider did partner the then seven-year-old into fifth place at the French event at Le Lion d'Angers in 2003, but his dressage was "on the brink of being manic" and he "did handstands and cartwheels before and after the showjumping." When he arrived in England he was "like a lunatic". Though Idalgo remains quite buzzy, none of that was evident when he jumped a lovely, nimble clear round across country on Saturday and when he was faultless again in yesterday's showjumping.

Stockton's third place follows her ninth at Badminton on Tangleman and subsequent selection for September's European Championships. It has been a welcome change of fortune. Earlier in the year she had reached a low point when losing Word for Word through a fatal injury, hurting her own back in one fall and her shoulder in another.