A huge cheer greeted William Fox-Pitt at the cross-country finish of the three-star class at the St. James’s Place Barbury International Horse Trials as he scored his biggest win since returning to the saddle after incurring a serious head injury in a fall in the autumn of 2015.
The last to go on Mark Phillips’s influential track, the former world number with new ride Clifton Signature finished just four seconds over the optimum time and sealed victory over New Zealand's Andrew Nicholson on his rising star Swallow Springs.
Speaking after his win, William said: "It’s my biggest win for ages; a great surprise.
"I’m not known for winning one-day events – I usually have loads of time faults - and I wasn’t sure this morning that I was going to go for it, but then I thought 'I’ll have a go' and the horse got better and better.
"I like him – he’s fun, he’s no nonsense and he’s well trained and knows what to do."
Tina Cook, who led after the first two phases on Billy the Red, withdrew before cross-country and Kitty King, lying fifth on Vendredi Biats, retired after a run-out.
British number one Oliver Townend finished third on Note Worthy and American rider Tiana Coudray, first on course and setting the standard with a sensational round inside the optimum time, eventually finished seventh on the appropriately named Inside the Clocks.