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Equestrianism: William Fox-Pitt loses but cashes in


Britain's William Fox-Pitt narrowly failed to defend the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials title but still left Lincolnshire £120,000 richer.

Fox-Pitt's third-place finish on Parklane Hawk proved enough to edge out Burghley winner Andrew Nicholson for the HSBS Classics crown, which rewards eventing's most successful rider over a 12-month period. New Zealander Nicholson, who landed his third Burghley crown and £50,000, finished one point behind Fox-Pitt.It meant Fox-Pitt collected the £95,000 Classics top prize for a third time in his career, and £25,000 from Burghley's prize fund.

But if Nicholson was left rueing such a narrow margin, it paled into insignificance when compared with American rider Sinead Halpin.

Halpin led Burghley for the first three days after producing brilliant dressage and cross-country displays, but hopes of a first four-star title disappeared in the showjumping phase.

Last to go, Halpin even had two fences in hand, but 12 faults on Manoir de Carneville - including a penultimate fence knockdown - meant Nicholson and Avebury triumphed, with Halpin second and Fox-Pitt third.

Oliver Townend, the 2009 Burghley winner, was fourth aboard Nicholson's former ride Armada, with New Zealander Jonathan Paget (Clifton Lush) fifth and American Allison Springer (Arthur IV) sixth.

Reflecting on his Classics success, Fox-Pitt said: "It was close.

"I came to Burghley knowing the pressure was on and knowing that Andrew was on fantastic form.

"Winning by one point is a bit close, but thank heavens for Parklane Hawk, who has been fantastic.

"Having two (showjumping fences) down is frustrating, but what a record he's got. Perhaps with a more ideal preparation this year he would have been back to his old best."

World number one Nicholson last won Burghley 12 years ago, but he said: "It actually feels more like 20 years since I last won. Is it really only 12?

"Burghley is my favourite event to ride at and Avebury is a joy to ride.

"There have been days when he has let me down and days when perhaps I've let him down, but overall he is a lovely consistent horse.

"I came here expecting to go well. He's been on good form all year so I knew we had a good chance. I am not surprised, but I am highly delighted."

Clear rounds were few and far between over Richard Jeffrey's showjumping course, with just four combinations from the 53 left in the competition not collecting penalties.

And Halpin was the biggest casualty, but she said: "Yes, it was a bit disappointing, but I am really proud of the horse.

"We have had an amazing week - we've not done as much as these two guys either side of me (Nicholson and Fox-Pitt) - and I am really lucky to have the horse."