Britain’s Mollie Summerland, second overnight with Charly van ter Heiden. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

We know that weather chat is neither sexy nor zesty in any way, but when you’re at an event that’s been as hot as Haras du Pin — and that’s hot enough that we’ve been listening to regular fire warnings over the tannoys, because much of France is ablaze at the moment — the biggest headline of the morning really is the fact that we’re delighting in a ten degree drop today. What joy! What relief! What a sweet surge of merciful energy that’s reinjecting itself into our veins! We can almost function as normal human beings again. Almost.

Anyway, back to the important business of horsing. There was an early start for everyone today, because although this week’s competition is a CCIO4*-S, it’s being run like a CCI4*-L — that is to say, we’ve had first and final horse inspections, we did cross-country yesterday, and now we’re looking ahead to a showjumping finale that’s going to be seriously tense, because the margins throughout the leaderboard are SO close. Our two-phase leaders, Michael Jung and fischerChipmunk FRH, go into showjumping on a score of 22.8, which gives them just one second, or 0.4 time penalties, to play with over second-placed Mollie Summerland and Charly van ter Heiden, who are on 23.3. Third-placed Maxime Livio and Api du Libaire sit 3.4 penalties behind Mollie, and from then on out, the margins are fractional, which means we could see plenty change in this afternoon’s competition — both as far as the final leaderboard is concerned, and in the race for Pratoni selection.

Head groom Lena Steger presents Michael Jung’s fischerChipmunk FRH, who leads the way after two phases. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Foreshortening the field slightly, two horses were withdrawn prior to the start of this morning’s final horse inspection, which was held before the ground jury of president James Rooney (IRL), Nikki Herbert (GBR), and Emmanuelle Olier (FRA). France’s Barbara Sayous opted to pull Opposition Filmstar (62nd place) from the line-up, and Austria’s Dr Harald Ambros made the same call with his Lexicon 2 (82nd), which means that the three-strong Austrian team is now effectively out of contention for the Nations Cup. That gives us a final field of 89 as we look towards the final phase.

Patrick Rüegg and Fifty Fifty: held, but then accepted into the final phase. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

A further two horses were sent to the holding box throughout the course of the morning’s inspection, but both were subsequently accepted after a re-inspection and a couple of tense bits of deliberation: they were Luc Chateau‘s Viens du Mont for France and Patrick Rüegg‘s Fifty Fifty for Switzerland. Malin Josefsson‘s Golden Midnight, representing Sweden, was also asked to trot again, though was then accepted.

China’s Huadong Sun presents his Tokyo mount, Lady Chin Van’t Moerven Z. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

In the team standings, Germany leads the way on a two-phase score of 86.3, which puts them a full fence and six time penalties ahead of second-placed France, who are on an aggregate score of 92.9. The New Zealand team holds third place provisionally on 94.1, while the Brits are knocking on the door on 94.5. The first batch of riders is due to jump from 11.30 a.m. local time (10.30 a.m. BST/5.30 a.m. EST), and the top thirty will commence from 15.30 local time (14.30 BST/9.30 a.m. EST). As always, you can watch along via FEI TV/ClipMyHorse — and keep it locked onto EN for a full report of all the action and what it might mean for next month’s World Championships.

Here’s another look at that top ten going into the final phase:

The top ten at Haras du Pin after a long day of cross-country.

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