Jock Paget is poised for a podium finish at the Etoiles de Pau CCI4*, after a stylish and well-judged cross-country round on Clifton Signature saw him rise into fourth place on a day where time penalties were hugely influential.
Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST now have the lead, finishing just one second over time. The Olympic champion is also fifth on the relatively green fischerTakinou.
“Rocana was wonderful – she is so simple to ride – and Takinou gave me a good feeling for his first time at this level,” says Michael.
He gave the nine-year-old fischerTakinou, a far less experienced horse, a beautifully sympathetic, unhurried ride for 8.8 time penalties but he is still within a Jumping fence of his leading ride.
France’s Maxime Livio thrilled the large crowd by finishing bang on the optimum time of 11 minutes to rise to second place on his Luhmühlen runner-up Qalao des Mers. Great Britain’s Nicola Wilson sits third on One Two Many, incurring 2.8 time.
Only one other rider finished on a clean sheet. That was the trailblazer Christopher Burton (AUS), who has now risen 22 places to 22nd on TS Jamaimo.
New Zealand’s Caroline Powell was clear with both her rides, so she will be pleased with that, but having incurred 13.6 time faults on Flying Finish and 14.4 on Spice Sensation she now sits 26th and 28th.
Tim Price capped off his season of bad luck with elimination, when Xavier Faer had an awkward jump over the log at the last water complex and tipped him out of the saddle.
The dressage runner-up Alexander Bragg had a great round on the big Dutch warmblood Zagreb, following Jung’s lead in taking a neat line out of the final water complex, and he is in ninth place, 0.2pen ahead of Australian Olympian Sonja Johnson, a sheep farmer from Perth, who has climbed into the top 10 on the tiny chestnut thoroughbred Parkiarrup Illicit Liaison.
The tight time meant there were big gains to be made on the scoreboard. Among those to leap up the order were Camilla Speirs (Ireland) on the diminutive Portersize Just A Jiff and Britain’s Nicola Wilson on Annie Clover, up from joint 32nd after dressage to 11th and 12th respectively.
Cross-country course builder Pierre Michelet had made full use of the compact site at Pau, which takes in the racecourse, and had produced what riders considered a more technical track than last year. There were also many comments on social media describing it as “twisty.” It rode well, however, and there were 35 clear rounds and 39 finishers from the 48 cross-country starters.
There is less than a show jumping rail between the top five riders, so tomorrow’s final phase will be an exciting one. Go Jock! Go Caroline!