Hoy, who has won two Olympic team gold medals for Australia, conjured a marvellous test out of 12-year-old Swizzle In for just 37 penalties, which is the best score he has ever had in a three-day event. It was a remarkable achievement considering that he had first sat on the horse only two weeks earlier.
Mark Todd's excellent test on Vicky Latta's Broadcast News would normally have given him the lead, but the New Zealander had to be content with overnight second place after finishing 4.4 penalties behind the Australian. Two Britons - Pippa Funnell on Supreme Rock and Ian Stark on Positive Rain - are now lying third and fourth.
Stark was given the ride on Positive Rain after the horse's owner, Jonquil Hemming, had a fall from him at Punchestown in Ireland last month. Hoy also benefited from the Irish event where Swizzle In was ridden by his owner, Gina Flood, who retired after problems at the first water.
Flood comes from Bermuda and had to return home after Punchestown to renew her visa. Not having time to prepare the horse for Bramham, she asked Hoy (with whom she has been based for six months) to ride him.
Hoy said: "I think he's a fabulous horse." But he has had only one cross- country school (and no competition experience) on Swizzle In, so tomorrow's 33-fence course will be a serious challenge.
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