Fox-Pitt makes promising start
William Fox-Pitt put a testing few days behind him to make a solid start in pursuit of his seventh Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials title.
The Briton posted a dressage score of 49.0 penalties on Neuf des Coeurs for third place as the early combinations among a 67-strong field launched this year's event in Lincolnshire.
Fox-Pitt should have been back at his Dorset base on Monday morning from Malmo, where he won a European individual bronze - the 17th major medal of his career.
But a lightning strike among security staff at Copenhagen Airport considerably delayed the British riders' journey home, which reduced their turnaround time before Burghley.
"It was certainly an interruption," world number two Fox-Pitt said. "It was late Monday before we got back."
Reflecting on Neuf des Coeurs' test, he added: "He wasn't too bad. He was a little bit edgy, lively and ready to go.
"And he certainly thought there was an atmosphere in the arena. He felt fresh."
New Zealander Jonathan Paget, who is bidding to emulate British rider Oliver Townend's 2009 feat of winning Badminton and Burghley in the same year, took a commanding lead.
Paget's score of 42.0 penalties on his back-up horse Clifton Lush gave him a clear advantage over his countryman Andrew Nicholson and Calico Joe, one of three Burghley rides for the world number one.
London 2012 test event winner Piggy French, meanwhile, marked her first four-star appearance for more than two years by registering 49.2 penalties with Westwood Mariner.
"All in all, I think that was as good as he can be at the minute. I am really pleased," French said.
Injuries to her top horses DHI Topper W and Jakata cost 33-year-old French an Olympics place last year, then French's new ride Tinkas Time picked up an injury this summer that meant she missed out on the recent European Championships in Sweden.
Andreas Dibowski, a member of Germany's European Championship gold
medal-winning team in Malmo, produced a classy dressage test aboard the
experienced FRH Butts Leon.
The combination won Germany's top eventing competition in Luhmuhlen two years ago, and a score of 42.0 penalties tied them for first place alongside Paget.
Dibowski, 47, helped Germany land Olympic gold in 2008, and his proven quality came to the fore on day one at Burghley.
British rider Sarah Cohen and her regular four-star partner Treason moved third on 48.0 penalties, dropping Nicholson down to fourth and Fox-Pitt fifth.
Nicholson, though, was among the late-afternoon starters with 2012 Burghley winner Avebury, while Germany's Ingrid Klimke - a European team gold and individual silver medallist last weekend - prepared to launch her Burghley challenge on FRH Butts Abraxxas.