It’s the Big, Bad LRK3DE CCI5* Cross-Country Open Thread

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg in 2019. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Okay, folks, hands up if you’ve had butterflies since approximately 6 p.m. EST yesterday, couldn’t sleep for most of the night, and have been a frantic little weirdo all morning preparing for the #BestWeekendAllYear. I know it can’t just be me! Thoroughly overadrenalised European correspondent Tilly Berendt here in ‘the studio’ (my sofa) to experience the highs and lows of the day to come with you all in real time. We’re about twenty minutes away from go-time at the moment – Jonelle Price will be the first out of the start box at 8.30 a.m. EST — so let’s use this time wisely to brush up on where we are and what we’re going to be looking ahead at today.

Here’s the leaderboard as it stands up to twentieth place after dressage:

By all accounts, Derek di Grazia’s course this year is one of the beefiest, toughest courses we’ve ever seen. He chats through the combinations on course here, and you can look at a full course preview on the CrossCountry App site here, led by Derek and Nick Larkin. The CCI5* has been moved to this morning to avoid the worst of the weather – it’s not raining yet, but the heavens are set to open from midday. Want a quick recap of dressage? Here’s the day one report, and the day two report.

If you want to follow along in true eventing nerd fashion, please take a moment to download a copy of EN’s Ultimate Form Guide to LRK3DE, available as a digital download for just $5 and absolutely full of incredible information, data analysis, graphs on strengths and weaknesses, and much more. It’ll be a super companion for you today, and 20% of each sale goes to charity, so you’ll getting some sweet, sweet juju in your karma bank as well.

#LRK3DE21: Website, EN’s Ultimate Form Guide, CCI4*-S Live Scores, CCI5* Live Scores, 5* Dressage Ride Times, 4* Dressage Ride Times, Schedule, North America Live Stream, Worldwide Live Stream, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Instagram, EN’s Twitter

1.08 p.m. EST: Here’s the top twenty after cross-country — but consider this provisional, as we expect Tamie to fight that 11 penalties, which would put her in second place by half a penalty if it’s removed.

1.03 p.m. EST: “He’s very, very special — we lost a shoe at fence 7, and it’s slippy out there. He’s shown how class he is, because I’ve gone like a bat out of hell on the straights and at the likes of the Hollow, I was so slow because he was slipping and sliding. I’ve had to use my brains but every time I’ve said go he’s put his head down and gone as fast as i’ve ever gone on cross-country. It’s very special,” says Oliver Townend of Ballaghmor Class, who leads going into tomorrow’s competition.

Ballaghmor Class and Oliver Townend lead the way going into tomorrow’s final horse inspection. Photo by Shelby Allen.

12.58 p.m. EST: 44 seconds over the time for Buck and Carlevo, who haven’t got a flag penalty on the live leaderboard at the moment.

12.56 p.m. EST: Buck’s having to work hard out there — those reins look slippery and he and Carlevo are well down on the clock by now.

12.55 p.m. EST: Clear and thirteen seconds over for Lauren and Bug!

12.53 p.m. EST: Lauren Nicholson and Vermiculus are storming around — what a good little Bug! Buck looks like he’s missed the flag coming out of the Head of the Lake — and so Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class will be our leaders going into tomorrow’s competition.

12.52 p.m. EST: Boyd is up and looks okay, but sore and broken-hearted. Buck and Carlevo are the only pair who can go ahead of Oliver now, but they’re not looking fast enough.

12.49 p.m. EST: IT’S ALL OVER FOR BOYD AND TSETSERLEG. They hit the deck at 26B, the final combination, when the gelding leaves a leg — that’s a seriously nasty looking fall for the rider, who’s already hit the ground once today. This changes EVERYTHING.

12.47 p.m. EST: The 20 has been removed from the leaderboard and Oliver comes home two seconds over the time — a remarkable effort, really. They finish on 27.3 for provisional third. Boyd can still stay ahead if he’s less than four seconds over the time.

12.45 p.m. EST: Ballaghmor Class has never been out of the top five in five five-stars, so if he is awarded the 20, it’s one of the most important moments of the day. He’ll be battling the time now, too. Boyd and Tsetserleg are looking super so far.

Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class. Photo by Shelby Allen.

12.42 p.m. EST: THIS IS A HUGE MOMENT. Oliver Townend picks up a provisional 20 penalties for what could be a run-out and could be a long route at the water at 19. He jumps in too big and kind of makes it over the second element, but he looks well outside the flag.

12.40 p.m. EST: WOW. Three for three for Jonelle — and just one second over on Grovine de Reve. Now we’ve got some big rounds on the go — Ballaghmor Class is super and relaxed through the Head of the Lake, and Tsetserleg and Boyd Martin have left the start box.

12.34 p.m. EST: Some great, aggressive riding from Jonelle. If you want to know more about any of these horses, grab your download of the Ultimate Form Guide — it’s got tonnes and tonnes of information on every single horse in this competition over nearly 140 pages. 

12.33 p.m. EST: Jonelle Price out on course now with her final ride, Grovine de Reve, who was 12th at Pau last year. She’s followed by a slightly feral-looking Off The Record with Will Coleman aboard. Oliver Townend coming up next with Ballaghmor Class — a huge round to watch.

12.31 p.m. EST: Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z finish clear with 2.8 time penalties! Really, really great performance from them — they’re going from strength to strength on their Tokyo campaign.

12.30 p.m. EST: A 20 for Clayton and FE Stormtrooper at 12 and then their day ends early as he takes a tumble at 17.

12.27 p.m. EST: Bit of a scrappy round so far for Clayton Fredericks and FE Stormtrooper — a horse who’s delightfully known as Stoner Stu.

12.25 p.m. EST: Liz and Niro looking solid out there — that Burghley trip in 2019 taught this horse a tonne. Great work through the Hollow from them.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z. Photo by Shelby Allen.

12.24 p.m. EST: Poor Jennie — that was a rough fall. They’re both up quickly but they hit that first element hard.

12.23 p.m. EST: Jennie Brannigan’s day ends early with Stella Artois — they fall at the Rolex Grand Slam Water where we just saw Doug pick up penalties.

12.22 p.m. EST: Liz Halliday-Sharp on course now with Deniro Z, who’s provisionally fourth at the moment.

12.20 p.m. EST: Oof, Doug Payne and Quantum Leap pick up a 20 at the Rolex Grand Slam water at 19ABCD.

12.19 p.m. EST: 6 time penalties plus that 11 for Tamie — we’ll have to wait and see if that 11 sticks around.

12.16 p.m. EST: BOLLOCKS. Tamie and Mai Baum will lose their overnight lead — they hit a frangible at 24A for 11 penalties. They’ll be able to try to fight it, though — he hit it behind and you’re only meant to be awarded the penalties if the pin would have prevented a fall.

Will Faudree and Mama’s Magic Way. Photo by Shelby Allen.

12.13 p.m. EST: WOW — Tamie somehow makes the Hollow look like the easiest thing ever. INCREDIBLE. Will Faudree and Mama’s Magic Way finish clear and eleven seconds over the time. What a great round for this inexperienced horse!

12.12 p.m. EST: Big jump into the Head of the Lake — Tamie is riding so boldly and it’s producing a super picture for this pair.

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Shelby Allen.

12.10 p.m. EST: Tamie and Mai Baum looking great so far after a sticky first jump — they’re clear halfway around.

12.09 p.m. EST: Tim Price and Xavier Faer also make the time! Six seconds inside, just like Harry Meade. Will Faudree and Mama’s Magic Way also on course and looking good.

Tim Price and Xavier Faer. Photo by Shelby Allen.

12.09 p.m. EST: Current leaders Tamie Smith and Mai Baum are out on course now! EEEEEEEEK

12.07 p.m. EST: Phillip Dutton and Z finish in 11:11 for 5.2 time penalties.

12.06 p.m. EST: 14.8 time penalties after those two long routes drops Anna Siemer from 10th to provisional 27th. They should climb from that before the day is over.

12.05 p.m. EST: Tim Price makes the Head of the Lake look really simple on his last ride, Xavier Faer — this horse was third here in 2019 and really knows his way around here.

12.03 p.m. EST: Another long route for Anna, whose round is looking really great — so this must be a footing issue. The rain really is coming down hard, so it’s not a silly idea at all to preserve her horse for the future.

12.01 p.m. EST: Interesting — Anna chooses to go long at 21AB, which will give her plenty of time penalties. Perhaps it’s getting slick out there now.

11.59 a.m. EST: Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me finish 58 seconds over the time — that’s 23.2 time penalties to add.

11.58 a.m. EST: Dom Schramm and Boly finish 12 seconds over the time — super stuff!

11.56 a.m. EST: Phillip Dutton and Z on course now. Anna is absolute class at the Head of the Lake — shades of Rocana about this mare.

11.55 a.m. EST: Sorry, I’m still laughing over Jesse Campbell telling Frankie Thieriot-Stutes that he was ‘shitting himself’ about cross-country.

11.54 a.m. EST: This course is reminding me of Pierre Michelet’s Pau — it’s obviously less twisty and turny, but the striding patterns read in a really similar way. If you think you need to shorten and add, you almost certainly need to kick on for the long one instead — bolder strides and a bit of ‘allez’ are being rewarded.

11.53 a.m. EST: Germany’s Anna Siemer and FRH Butt’s Avondale on course now to try to add zilch to their incredible first-phase score of 28.1.

11.51 a.m. EST: CRIKEY. Dom Schramm does one stride in that tricky 2.5 stride line at the Hollow. He gets away with it but I bet he’s clenching his bum a bit harder than usual right now.

11.50 a.m. EST: Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me out on course for Canada right now and looking fierce.

11.49 a.m. EST: Dom Schramm through the Head of the Lake with Bolytair B. It’s a bit scrappy out there but they’re getting it done!

11.47 a.m. EST: Six seconds within the time for Harry, and I am SOBBING.

11.46 a.m. EST: HARRY MEADE DOES IT! He’s the first rider to make the time after attacking every inch of this course. What an extraordinary round and an extraordinary result — we’ve seen just a couple of national level runs for him since that accident in October, which saw him pick up a bad head injury that’s required a huge amount of rehabilitation.

Harry Meade and Superstition. Photo by Shelby Allen.

11.44 a.m. EST: WHAT a round from Jesse Campbell and Diachello — Jesse rode exceptionally well out there, as he tends to, and they pick up just 9.6 time penalties. It’s a great moment: he’s been overlooked a bit as a ‘slow’ horse, but actually, it’s all been tactics from Jesse, who’s a rider I rate really highly. This run — the horse’s first at the level — has proven exactly what Jesse has been saying about the gelding.

11.43 a.m. EST: Harry Meade is really forward in the Hollow and it works perfectly.

11.42 a.m. EST: Oh no! Allison hits the deck at the first water — that’s just fence four. What a bummer for her.

11.40 a.m. EST: Allison Springer starts with rookie horse Business Ben — meanwhile, Harry is seriously gung-ho at the Head of the Lake. Clear — what a cool horse.

11.38 a.m. EST: Leslie completes 45 seconds over the time — Jesse and Diachello still looking brilliant out there. Now Harry Meade and Superstition are out there, chasing redemption after a horrendous accident in October.

11.36 a.m. EST: Leslie and Voltaire de Tre are having to work hard out there, but they’re making it happen. It’s seriously coming down out there now and Leslie rides in glasses — this cannot be easy.

11.35 a.m. EST: New Zealand’s Jesse Campbell and Diachello looking super quick and classy at the Normandy Bank — this pair is winning a tonne of fans this weekend!

11.34 a.m. EST: Clear and just eight time penalties for Ema and Bendigo! I’m not crying, you’re crying.

11.33 a.m. EST: Bit hairy out of the Head of the Lake for Leslie Law — but they’re through and clear. We’d say with a couple of grey hairs, but…. (sorry, Leslie)

11.32 a.m. EST: Clear through 24C for Ema and Bendigo — and Leslie Law and Voltaire de Tre are looking solid so far. Caroline Martin and Islandwood Captain Jack complete 46 seconds over the time.

Daniel Clasing and MW Gangster’s Game. Photo by Sally Spickard.

11.29 a.m. EST: A great clear round from Dan Clasing and MW Gangster’s Game, though they’re slow — they add 26 time penalties.

11.27 a.m. EST: Ema looking great so far through 14C — as Karen O’Connor says, “she’s excellent at everything she endeavours.”

11.26 a.m. EST: Caroline Martin looking classy and clear through 20.

11.25 a.m. EST: Our own Ema Klugman is on course with Bendigo! Clear to 9C so far! GO ON GIRL!

Ema Klugman and Bendigo. Photo by Sally Spickard.

11.24 a.m. EST: A tale of two approaches at the Hollow for Dan — he looks for the long one to the table but gets handed a very deep, uncomfortable distance. They get over it and then make a great showing over the two angled hedges. Class.

11.23 a.m. EST: Dan plays fast and loose with the flag rule but looks to be okay. Caroline Martin now out with Islandwood Captain Jack. Aaaaand the rain has started!

Caroline Martin and Islandwood Captain Jack. Photo by Sally Spickard.

11.21 a.m. EST: Dan Clasing and MW Gangster’s Game are looking super — what a dark horse pair they’re proving to be! Sydney and QC Diamantaire finish with just 8.8 time penalties.

11.16 a.m. EST: Oh no! Valerie and Favian are down at the upright gates at 13. They don’t break either — although they do have MIMs clips fitted. It’s a nasty fall but both look to be up quickly.

11.15 a.m. EST: A great ride through the Hollow for Sydney and QC — she’s learned from her mistakes at the Lake and adjusted visibly for that combination. Daniel Clasing and MW Gangster’s Game are our latest starters; they were a surprise success in the ring yesterday and sit =12th currently.

11.14 a.m. EST: Valerie Vizcarrondo Pride and Favian are our next rookies out on course — it’s been a good day for first-timers so far!

11.12 a.m. EST: QC Diamantaire has a huge stride — and that’s not always the easiest thing to manage, as we see when they get into some trouble at the Head of the Lake. They’re clear, but that horse deserves a halo — he bails them both out by finding his way over the highest part of the final element. What a horse.

11.11 a.m. EST: Make a wish!

11.09 a.m. EST: Sydney Elliott and QC Diamantaire looking great up to 9C so far!

11.07 a.m. EST: What a shame – Hannah Sue Burnett picks up a run-out and then gets a technical elimination for missing an element.

11.04 a.m. EST: We’ve got a withdrawal — Hawley Bennett-Awad won’t run Jollybo today.

11.03 a.m. EST: Colleen Loach now on course for Canada with Qorry Blue d’Argouges. They look bold and solid through the first water.

11.01 a.m. EST: Hannah Sue and Harbour Pilot have a great ride through the Head of the Lake — he’s looking very rideable today.

11.00 a.m. EST: Kevin McNab and Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam are now the fastest of the day! One second over — I’m doubly glad I put them up as my winners in the predictions this week now! This is one of the coolest horses on the scene right now in my humble opinion — what a little star.

Kevin McNab and Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam. Photo by Sally Spickard.

10.58 a.m. EST: Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot looking good so far — Kevin McNab and Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam also solid so far for Australia.

10.56 a.m. EST: Wow, one of the rounds of the day so far from Boyd Martin’s 5* debutant On Cue –  they add 1.2 time penalties to match Classic Moet for the fastest round of the day!

Boyd Martin and On Cue. Photo by Sally Spickard.

10.55 a.m. EST: “He dirty dogged it,” says Karen O’Connor of the errant bogey, who slams on the brakes before the first water. Buck opts to retire, wisely.

10.54 a.m. EST: Buck Davidson out on course again now with Erroll Gobey, a horse who always makes me think of errant bogeys. God, it’s a relief that I don’t have to say any of this stuff out loud.

10.53 a.m. EST: Oliver and Cooley Master Class come home clear but sixteen seconds over the optimum time — that’s 6.4 time penalties and pushes them down to provisional 20th, though they won’t finish that low down the leaderboard. A major surprise here, though.

10.51 a.m. EST: Oliver having to work very hard at the coffin, where Cooley Master Class jumps very hollow — but they’re looking more fluid now.

10.49 a.m EST: Boyd makes it through the Head of the Lake in fine style this time around!

10.48 a.m. EST: Wow! Clear and just 2.2 time penalties for Will Coleman and Tight Lines — a real redemption after that pesky flag penalty in 2019. Boyd Martin going well with On Cue.

10.46 a.m. EST: Ooof. Cooley Master Class stumbles badly coming out of the Head of the Lake and Oliver lifts him over the final element. They’re clear but this isn’t looking like this horse at his best at all.

10.45 a.m. EST: Hmm. Cooley Master Class just doesn’t look like he’s firing on all cylinders. This is looking like hard work.

Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class. Photo by Sally Spickard.

10.44 a.m. EST: 1.2 time penalties for Jonelle and Classic Moet — that’s the benchmark then, set by our fastest pair in the field.

10.43 a.m. EST: The reigning champions, Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class, are on course now!

10.42 a.m. EST: “That was a big test out there — there was a lot of jumping to do and a lot of ad-libbing because it certainly didn’t go to plan,” says Marilyn Little. “I took my foot off the gas pedal thinking, there’s a lot of big efforts out there and maybe she needs to catch her breath. Hindsight is 20/20, maybe she didn’t need to catch her breath, but the horse needs to come first.”

10.40 a.m. EST: Will Coleman and Tight Lines looking good now — hopefully the impending hold won’t ruin their rhythm.

10.39 a.m. EST: Classic Moet and Jonelle held just before the footbridge while repairs are done.

Classic Moet and Jonelle Price. Photo by Sally Spickard.

10.37 a.m. EST: There’s going to be some serious rebuilding needed on the triple bar.

10.36 a.m. EST: Will Coleman’s Tight Lines looking a bit sticky into the first water but in and away.

10.35 a.m. EST: No! A fall for Zoe and Zara at the triple bar at 22. Classic Moet going great guns and looking super through the Hollow.

Zoe Crawford and KEC Zara. Photo by Sally Spickard.

10.33 a.m. EST: A 20 for Zoe Crawford and KEC Zara at 12A but going well after that.

10. 32 a.m. EST: Jonelle Price and Classic Moet now on course — this is one of the fastest combinations in the world, so it’ll be fascinating to see how she does with the time. No one’s made it yet; Tim Price and Bango are the closest.

10.30 a.m. EST: A technical elimination for Nilson Moreira da Silva and Magnum’s Martini, who have had a couple of problems and ultimately get pulled up for missing a fence.

10.27 a.m. EST: 7.2 time penalties for Meghan O’Donoghue and Palm Crescent, who cross the finish with huge smiles on their faces.

Emily Libbee and Jakobi. Photo by Sally Spickard.

10.26 a.m. EST: Emilee Libby and Jakobi looking great out there — what a nifty jumper this Californian horse is!

10.24 a.m. EST: 28.8 time penalties pushes our dressage leaders down to provisional 47th place. That’s a pretty hard pill for her to swallow, I would think. One minute and twelve seconds over the time. Lots to like in the round, though. Now Tamie Smith holds top spot before her round.

Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous. Photo by Sally Spickard.

10.23 a.m. EST: Emilee Libby and Jakobi out on course now, as is Nilson and Magnum’s Martini. Marilyn coming to the end of the course and those time penalties have pushed them right out of contention.

10.21 a.m. EST: Ooooooh, this is going to be tricky — this could be a flag for Marilyn at the final part of the coffin. It looks pretty far out of the line to me.

10.20 a.m. EST: Marilyn does a Doug and cuts through the bushes en route to the footbridge — that’s not going to win her enough time back though. Looking like she could be about a minute down, which would basically double her


10.17 a.m. EST: Rookies Fylicia Barr and Galloway Sunrise got home clear with 23.2 time penalties! Joe Meyer picks up a 20 at 17B and adds 16.8 time. Marilyn and Kitty going well but looking slow here.

Fylicia Barr and Galloway Sunrise. Photo by Sally Spickard.

10.15 a.m. EST: Good through the Head of the Lake for Marilyn and Kitty, but they’re looking conservative speed-wise here. She’ll need to find a sixth gear soon.

10.14 a.m. EST: Looking good so far for Marilyn and Kitty, despite a twisting jump over one of the big tables out there.

10.12 a.m. EST: Our overnight leaders Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous are on course now — they’ll have to get as close to the time as possible, as there’s just a tenth of a penalty between her and Tamie Smith. This’ll be tough for them — this isn’t one of the quickest pairs in the field.

10.11 a.m. EST: Just 7.2 time for Sharon and Cooley On Show — a super round!

Sharon White and Cooley On Show. Photo by Sally Spickard.

10.08 a.m. EST: Fylicia Barr and Galloway Sunrise are our next rookies out on course — but we won’t see much of them, as Marilyn Little is about to start.

10.07 a.m. EST: Sharon White and Cooley On Show are looking very committed and gutsy out there so far — this course looks easy for them. Johnny Royale and Joe Meyer make a brave effort out of the Head of the Lake — it’s scrappy, but it pays off.

10.01 a.m. EST: Bugger. Mike Pendleton hits the deck at the Moguls at 26 — the same place we saw William Fox-Pitt go down. Sharon White and Cooley On Show on the go now.

9.59 a.m. EST: Kurt Martin and DeLux Z finish with 26 time penalties and that pesky 20 jumping penalties.

9.57 a.m. EST: Mike Pendleton and Steady Eddie are looking great — you’d think they’d been competing together for years.

Mike Pendleton and Steady Eddie at the Head of the Lake. Photo by Sally Spickard.

9.56 a.m. EST: Oh no! Now Lillian Heard is eliminated at 7c, the Frog Pond. That’s a real surprise from this experienced partnership.

9.54 a.m. EST: Aaaaaargh this is SO unfortunate — Kurt and DeLux Z pick up a 20 at fence 23 after the horse just seems not to see it.

9.53 a.m. EST: Bango crosses the line at 11:03 — that’s just 1.6 time penalties!

9.51 a.m. EST: Bango still looking full of running with one minute to go. No word on Kurt Martin, who hasn’t been shown at all — it’s achingly frustrating that the stream continues to switch away from the Head of the Lake, opting to show horses just on galloping stretches instead.

9.49 a.m. EST: Lauren and Paramount Importance home with 20.8 time. The flag penalties have been removed for Jennie Brannigan and FE Lifestyle, so they just have 10.4 time now.

9.46 a.m. EST: Wow! Tim rides the Hollow as a serpentine and makes it happen. Great effort and seriously excellent riding to find space where there really is none. Thank god Bango has settled at this point in the course — that wouldn’t have worked a couple of minutes ago.

9.45 a.m. EST: Kurt Martin and DeLux Z look super through the first water. This horse is one of the best two-phase jumping horses in the field.

9.44 a.m. EST: Some head shaking from Bango — Tim pushes him up into sixth gear in response. ‘You want to go, old boy? We can go.’

9.42 a.m. EST: Tim and Bango absolutely fly through the Frog Pond. This is a seriously keen horse — occasionally too keen, but he looks like he’s on form today.

9.41 a.m. EST: Lauren Nicholson and Paramount Importance look solid through the Head of the Lake.

9.40 a.m. EST: Time for another Price — this time it’s Tim and Bango.

9.39 a.m. EST: Wizzerd looking as though the low fuel light is flickering on — Matt is riding him really sympathetically and giving him as much time and space as he needs. They jump the last and look good coming over the finish.

9.38 a.m. EST: Matt Flynn and Wizzerd are clear so far — not quick, but Wizzerd is trying his heart out and Matt’s doing a sterling job helping him out.

9.36 a.m. EST: Aaaaargh! Dani Moguel comes off at that influential final element out of the Head of the Lake – she just slows up too much coming up to the bank and then trots before the jump. Cecelia dips out to the left and Dani tumbles out the side door.

9.34 a.m. EST: OH NO! William and Oratorio are down at the Moguls after the horse leaves a leg. They’re up immediately but WHAT a shame; they were well up on the clock.

9.33 a.m. EST: 15 penalties for a flag confirmed for Jennie Brannigan and FE Lifestyle. Dani Moguel and Cecelia now on course for Mexico.

9.31 a.m. EST: Emily Hamel and Corvett make it home! What a super round — their first CCI5* and they’re back looking fit and happy and ready to keep going. Just 8.4 time penalties for them!

9.30 a.m. EST: William and Oratorio super through the Hollow, where William is brave enough to get that long two at the final element — really the only option.

9.29 a.m. EST: Matt Flynn and Wizzerd get a bit hung up jumping into the first water but they’re through without penalties — with three more waters to go, there’s no room for stickiness at these questions.

9.28 a.m. EST: Oratorio jumping more up and than out at the Head of the Lake — they make it through to the final element on three strides but look as though they jump with all four legs at once. Hopefully he settles into a rhythm soon — it doesn’t look like the most fun feeling.

9.27 a.m. EST: Oratorio looking great so far. This horse finished top ten in his 5* debut at Badminton and was second in the CCI4*-L at Blenheim — a very exciting gelding, but one who’s been extraordinarily strong across the country historically. William’s been working hard to get him to be a bit more rideable, which will help him get quicker, too.

Emily Hamel and Corvett. Photo by Sally Spickard.

99.25 a.m. EST: Ninth-placed William Fox-Pitt and Oratorio leave the start box. This is a very important round and also a poignant one — it’s great to see the former winner back here. Emily Hamel and Corvett absolutely pinging around as our first rookies on course.

9.24 a.m. EST: Cooley Quicksilver cruising home with his ears pricked. On paper, it’s a disappointing day for them — and they’re nearly a minute and a half over the time — but Liz has made sure it’s a positive, educational experience for the horse.

9.23 a.m. EST: Oh no!! The C element at the Hollow takes another victim — Karl and Fernhill Wishes finds himself there on two and a half strides and they both go down in what is almost a rotational fall. Both are up on their feet quickly.

9.22 a.m. EST: Emily Hamel and Corvett out on course as well now.

9.21 a.m. EST: WOW — speaking of huge jumps, Cooley Quicksilver practically goes into orbit over the footbridge.

9.20 a.m. EST: A drive-by for Liz and Cooley Quicksilver at the C element of the Hollow. The striding has looked odd here all day — we saw Jonelle add a trot step to make it work — and this inexperienced horse just isn’t able to make it happen. He’s been jumping great otherwise — huge and bold. He’ll learn to economise in his efforts as he gets older.

9.19 a.m. EST: Karl Slezak storming around the course now with Fernhill Wishes.

9.18 a.m. EST: An elated Doug is feeling very lucky to have had a great ride on Vandiver.

9.17 a.m. EST: Oooof — Liz and Cooley Quicksilver scrabble over the final element at the Head of the Lake, where Boyd had fallen. They miss at the bank which makes that final element seriously tricky — they survive it, but that flag may come under review.

9.16 a.m. EST: 3.2 time penalties for Doug Payne and Vandiver — our quickest round yet.

9.15 a.m. EST: Doug Payne and Vandiver are our next to finish! Time to come.

9.14 a.m. EST: Vandiver now looking a tiny bit backwards — while Jennie Brannigan takes a serious long shot at the Hollow, but gets away with it!

9.13 a.m. EST: Liz Halliday-Sharp out on course on her first ride, 5* debutant Cooley Quicksilver. It sounds like Jennie Brannigan has activated a frangible at fence 7 but they’re looking great and bold now — this is a cool horse.

9.12 a.m. EST: Doug takes a clever shortcut through some small trees that are meant to push riders to an outside line at 20 — he goes straight through and jumps the footbridge on an angle. Savvy if you have the experience to do it.

9.11 a.m. EST: Uh oh — we’ll be looking at a flag question mark for Jennie and FE Lifestyle. Leah Lang-Gluscic has pulled up on course so that AP Prime’s stifle can be checked after that corner scare.

9.09 a.m. EST: Jennie Brannigan and FE Lifestyle off and running — they’re at the first water and look good through there. Doug and Vandiver clear so far.

9.08  a.m. EST: “It’s a lot harder of a course than I thought it was,” says Buck. He says those four waters are really a tough challenge in succession — you’ve got to forget about striding and just work the whole way around.

9.06 a.m. EST: Eeeek, Leah and AP Prime have a scary moment at the corner at 14C — they miss and end up nearly banking it. Doug Payne and Vandiver on course at the moment — this pair will give us an indicator of how tough the time is. They’re experienced and generally very quick.

Buck and Jak My Style. Photo by Sally Spickard.

9.04 a.m. EST: Buck and Jak My Style are our second finishers of the day!

9.03 a.m. EST: Phillip and Singapore looking good so far at Pete’s Hollow. Clear so far at this stage. Leah Lang-Gluscic and AP Prime on course now too.

8.58 a.m. EST: Jak My Style kicks a flag out of the corner at 14C; big pats from Buck for getting the job done. They’re clear through the Hollow — widely regarded as the toughest combination on course.

8.57 a.m. EST: And we’re off again! Jak My Style goes for a long one at the Head of the Lake but gets away with it. Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Singapore also out and going great guns right now.

8.55 a.m. EST: At Luhmühlen, Germany’s five-star, they play this over the tannoy whenever any repairs need to be made:

8.53 a.m. EST: Still held. Seems as good a moment as any to give a shout-out to the hard-working course-builders, especially Tyson Rementer, who is a really big fan of my work and apparently planning to send me a really lovely care package, so that’s nice.

8.49 a.m. EST: Buck is now held on course as the Head of the Lake undergoes repairs.

8.47 a.m. EST: Buck Davidson on the go at the moment with Jak My Style.

8.46 a.m. EST: Boyd Martin is down at the Head of the Lake! Long Island T leaves a leg at the final element on dry land and Boyd goes down. He’s up already and looking okay.

8.44 a.m. EST: Jonelle and Grappa Nera finish with 7.6 time penalties provisionally. Boyd Martin and Long Island T looking good out there so far as the only pair on course.

8.43 a.m. EST: Nooooo! Will Coleman hits the deck in the Head of the Lake and starts the long walk home. DonDante just caught a front leg over that drop log on the way in, pitching Will into the drink. The horse stays on his feet, though.

8.42 a.m. EST: If you want to keep an eye on the entrants’ speed ratings, you can do so by downloading the Ultimate Form Guide — it’s put together in drawn order, so you can flip through as you watch. 

8.41 a.m. EST: Will and DonDante make the Normandy bank look like a Training level question. Easy-peasy.

8.39 a.m. EST: Will said to EN’s Sally Spickard yesterday that DonDante is ‘the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen on cross-country — like a hyena chasing a cheetah.’ What a visual, Will — but we know he says it with fondness. this five-star first-timer has a super record at four-star and like Grappa Nera, he has one of the best speed ratings in the field. Still cool and clear so far.

8.38 a.m. EST: Will Coleman on course on DonDante now — good through the first water. Another debutant horse here.

8.36 a.m. EST: This is the first time we’ve ever seen a five-star without spectators, as Pau was able to allow some in last year. It’s going to be interesting to see how that affects the horses — the atmosphere and cheering of the crowd can help to get their blood up, though these debutant horses won’t ever have encountered that in their careers yet. It’ll make for very interesting viewing when those experienced horses come out. Jonelle and Grape are still looking very cool out on course — I could watch Jonelle ride cross-country all day, every day, and never stop learning.

8.35 a.m. EST: A masterclass from Jonelle on how to give a horse confidence through a combination — they’re clear through the Lake and survive a three strides to the last element that is really long for this mare. Classy riding.

8.34 a.m. EST: Very good at the Normany bank and now en route to the Head of the Lake. Grape has been slightly sticky at the waters — this will be a big question.

8.32 a.m. EST: Going first has both advantages and disadvantages: Jonelle won’t know of any problem spots on course, nor where the best time-saving spots are, but she also won’t have her plan influenced one way or another, so she can go out there and do it with a clear head. They look great en route to the Normany Bank.

8.31 a.m. EST: This is a quick horse and, of course, one of the the quickest riders in the world. She nearly gets unseated jumping into the water, but finds her way back into the plate and goes the direct route. Clear there!

8.30 a.m. EST: And we’re off! What a woman to get us going: it’s New Zealand’s Jonelle Price, riding debutant Grappa Nera.

8.29 a.m. EST: This little dude’s been out on course setting the pace for the day:

8.27 a.m. EST: Nearly time for the off and my butterflies have turned into pigeons. It’s the perfect time to reread the poignant Dandelions in the Park.