The British double Olympic medallist was second after dressage and showjumping on Luna Mist and headed out early onto the cross-country in the Evelyn Partners-sponsored class. He was initially shown on the scoreboard as having been penalised for being too far under the 5min 53sec optimum time, but his time was then amended to 5min 50sec, giving him a penalty-free round.
“I’d only just scraped in inside the time – as everyone knows, no one makes the time here, so it would have been a bit freaky if I’d been too fast,” said Tom.
Of Martin Belsham’s nine-year-old mare Luna Mist, Tom said: “She had a lovely showjumping round and then was faultless across country. She cruised really well and even cantered all the way up the hill home. She’s made it feel relatively simple – she’s got huge amount of potential and a very exciting future.”
Luna Mist was ridden by Italy’s Paulo Torlonia, who is based in the yard next to Tom’s at Gatcombe, last year.
“He did a great job and she’s just really elevated this year and been really good. Next for her is the four-star long at Blair so there’s no better way to do fitness than round the Gatcombe hills,” said Tom.
The rider also paid tribute to the Gatcombe team for their work in producing good ground during this dry summer.
“If you walk from the start to fence one or from one to two, which are the only bits I’ve really been slow enough to see a footprint, you can see such a clear print and the horses just feel super comfortable the whole way around,” said Tom, who is based elsewhere on the Gatcombe estate and said there had been some rain earlier this week, which has also helped the going.
Tom won this class in 2019 on Dreamaway II, who has since been placed at four-star, and in 2018 on CHF Cooliser, who is now competing at five-star and was the runner-up at Pau Horse Trials last year.
The leaders after two phases, student Henrietta Ewell and her own Zaino, had 20 penalties at the Evelyn Partners Corners at 6abc, when Zaino seemed not to read the initial question of an angled hedge and ran along it. They retired later on Mark Phillips’ course.
There were only three clears in the time – for Tom, runner-up Oliver Townend, and eighth-placed Josie Proctor on Imogen Coughlan’s Bee Naround. Oliver was second riding John Peace and Charlotte Cole’s Crazy Du Loir, who moved up from third after showjumping, and also took third on Sir John Peace’s Caunton First Class, whose two time-faults allowed him to rise from sixth going into the last phase.
Georgie Campbell landed fourth on Lance and Diana Morrish’s Global Quest, New Zealand’s Tim Price was fifth on Viscount Viktor (owned by Barbara Cooper, Ginny Rusher and Glynn Norcutt) and Daisy Berkeley finished sixth on Diese Du Figuier, owned by his rider, her mother Caroline Dick, Camilla Case, Martha Ivory and Penelope Makins.
Australia’s Bill Levett was fourth after showjumping in the Gatcombe Horse Trials British intermediate championship on his wife Jenny’s RNH Tom Tom R, but was eliminated after cross-country for jumping the wrong fence at number nine, the TopSpec Log Pile.
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