Two Thyme Has The Winning Edge Over Largest Field
She was lying 3rd on Two Thyme and 12th on Mayhem after Dressage and Jumping at Gatcombe's Festival of British Eventing, presented by BETA, but had suffered broken ribs in a fall at Luhmühlen last month, an injury then exacerbated by a fall on the flat at Gatcombe the day before.
"I only had one ride in me today," she explained, "and I chose Two Thyme because he doesn't pull."
Edge, 29, who headed the largest HSBC FEI World Cup Eventing field of 2009 – 85 starters – brought the day to a thrilling climax when finishing 7.3 penalties clear of Oliver Townend (GBR), winner of the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials and current leader in the HSBC Classics, who in turn was 7.2 penalties ahead of Bill Levett (AUS) on Hippolyte.
Lucinda Fredericks (AUS) and Mary King (GBR) jointly held the lead after the first two phases, but Fredericks withdrew her Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event winner Headley Britannia because the mare has been undergoing embryo transfer.
King then suffered a frustrating mishap with Imperial Cavalier when missing the distance at the Land Rover at the Folly (fence 16), a line of related, downhill tyre fences, and she fell off over the horse's head when he jinked to the right.
However, King, who is lying 2nd in the HSBC FEI World Cup Eventing rankings, is planning to take her mare Kings Temptress, on whom she finished 7th at Gatcombe, to the Final at Strzegom (POL) in a fortnight's time.
Clayton Fredericks (AUS), lying 4th, also withdrew Ben Along Time, as he is saving him to defend his title in Poland.
The Cross-Country at Gatcombe is renowned among riders as being one of most testing, because it runs up and down the side of a steep valley beneath the Princess Royal's house, providing a thrilling spectacle for the crowds and a test of nerve and stamina for riders and horses.
William Fox-Pitt (GBR) also fell foul of fence 16, with a run-out on Macchiato, and Rodney Powell (Zin Zan ll, GBR) and Mark Todd (Gandalf, NZL) both had run-outs at the narrow fence at the top of the steps at fence 8, and Stuart Fitzgerald (RSA) had a fall when Classic Diamond Charm slipped backwards here.
The HSBC Corners at 13 also proved influential – Ireland's Geoff Curran was among the riders to run out here – and many competitors opted for the slow route.
The optimum time is always a challenge at Gatcombe, and Nicola Wilson (GBR) who will ride as an individual for Great Britain at the HSBC FEI European Eventing Championship in September on her brilliant horse Opposition Buzz, was the only rider who achieved this. Benjamin Massie on Haston d'Elpegere, 15th, one of a strong contingent of French riders at Gatcombe, was second fastest with 2 penalties.
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