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EQUESTRIAN: Fox-Pitt holds nerve to land French prize
6:00pm Monday 28th October 2013 in Sport
STURMINSTER Newton star William Fox-Pitt defied a back complaint to win the Pau international event in south-west France.
However, the world number two could not make eventing history at elite four-star level after holding the top three places following Saturday’s cross-country phase.
No rider has ever accomplished a clean sweep and Fox-Pitt’s hopes disappeared when he had five showjumping fences down on Neuf des Coeurs, dropping from third overnight to 15th.
But Fox-Pitt still held his nerve to land the £30,000 top prize on Seacookie TSF, the horse’s first four-star success after finishing second at Burghley in 2010 and Kentucky earlier this year.
He also finished third with Cool Mountain, his 2010 World Eques-trian Games silver-medal winning ride, representing an outstanding return for the Dorset-based rider.
But he revealed that he almost pulled out before the event after hurting his back during the world six and seven-year-old horse championships in Le Lion last weekend.
“I have had this wretched back that has been causing me trouble,” Fox-Pitt told FEI TV.
“On Wednesday, I really wasn’t sure that I would be able to ride, but my physiotherapist came out and sorted me out, and thank goodness for that.”
Fox-Pitt and Sea-cookie, the last combination to go, had a fence in hand on French rider Max-ime Livio, who jumped a brilliant clear round aboard Cathar de Gamel on his four-star debut, and they prevailed despite having the first element down of a testing triple combination.
Livio finished just 0.5 penalties behind Fox-Pitt on a score of 46.0, with Cool Mountain posting 46.2. American Phillip Dutton was fourth on Mr Medicott, and New Zealand’s world number one Andrew Nicholson fifth with Mr Cruise Control.
Reflecting on his stunning cross-country display, when he got all three of his horses home inside the time, Fox-Pitt added: “It was a real thrill.
“They are three lovely horses and I did feel they could go all go clear inside the time, but to all be on the same day is a pretty big fluke, really.
“They are three super horses. They have all done a four-star before and that really helps.
“It was a tricky course, there were lots of skinny fences, but my three jumped and galloped well.”
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