WILLIAM FOX-PITT thoroughly enjoyed his seventh success in the CCI three-star Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials.
Sipping on a well-earned drink and posing for photographs with adoring young fans, the 44-year-old basked in glory under warm June sunshine at his 2013 achievement.
Yet within minutes of victory there was no hesitation in speaking about a 2014 quest for glory with the Yorkshire-owned Freddie Mac set to lead the Fox-Pitt Bramham charge in 12 months’ time.
There has, in truth, been scant time for Fox-Pitt to savour last weekend’s Bramham triumph on Chilli Morning with the world No 2 immediately flying out to Germany this week.
At the CCI four-star event at Luhmuhlen, Neuf des Coeurs and Lionheart are leading the Hampstead-born star’s chase for one of just six four-star events on the calendar this year.
Yet, while it is eventing’s four-star events that clearly matter most, there is no denying the passion seven-time winner Fox-Pitt has for the Bramham Horse Trials – or the high regard he holds them in.
The popular rider has often used the Yorkshire event to develop his future stars, although this year’s event provided a break from tradition with Chilli Morning using Bramham to get back on track after a four-star failure in Kentucky.
But next year it will be back to embracing his yard’s promising youth with Fox-Pitt clearly having already given Bramham 2014 for the nine-year-old Freddie Mac serious thought.
“I hope to be here again and I’ve got a very nice young horse called Freddie Mac who is looking like a good Bramham horse,” Fox-Pitt told the Yorkshire Post just moments after his 2013 success.
“He’s got a Yorkshire owner – he is owned by a lady called Lady Best and Jane Kier so that makes it even more important and it is now really all about getting him to Bramham.
“He’s on track so far, but beyond that I have no idea with Freddie Mac. We are halfway there.
“So far he has done two-star level which is one level down from Bramham and he has done very well.
“He was second in one of them and he’s won quite a few Intermediates.
“He’s a big thoroughbred chestnut horse and he now needs some advanced experience but it’s all about coming here next year – or else.
“The pressure is on and we have to get him to Bramham – and then make sure that we win!”
The pressure was also on Fox-Pitt at this year’s Bramham with 2012 winner Chilli Morning arriving as the undoubted favourite given his achievements of the year before. Yet Fox-Pitt admitted to being nervous as to how his 13-year-old would perform two months on from flopping at the Rolex Kentucky where he stopped at fence seven of the cross-country stage.
Fox-Pitt revealed on the opening day of Bramham that it would be back to the drawing board if Chilli Morning failed to perform at Bramham 2013, yet the sky is once again the limit.
“It’s a very satisfying feeling that we are back and that what happened in Kentucky is behind us and that it hasn’t upset his confidence,” said Fox-Pitt. “This has certainly re-instated my confidence in him and I think that from here again we can try to build.
“I think in the frame of mind he was in he would have gone well in Luhmuhlen as well, but I wasn’t to know that and I think it was the right thing to do to bring him back somewhere that he had gone well at before and that he had enjoyed. Obviously I will talk to his owner Chris Stone but Burghley could be a possibility and I think if he went like he went at Bramham on the Saturday he would jump around anywhere.”
That analysis makes perfect sense with most of last weekend’s riders believing Ian Stark’s cross-country course was actually tougher than this year’s four-star Badminton assignment. Fox-Pitt was also full of praise for the Bramham cross-country course – and Di Boddy’s showjumping test which he and Chilli Morning cleared to land the rider an amazing 51st four-day event.
But greedy or otherwise it’s a very much a case of 51 and counting.
“I don’t really deserve to win any more do I?” he laughed.
“I’ve had more than my fair share – but I’m going to keep trying for a little while yet.”