Britain’s three-time Olympic medallist William Fox-Pitt insists he is relishing the chance to go head to head with rival Andrew Nicholson for eventing’S richest prize ahead of Sunday’s cross-country phase at the 2013 Badminton Horse Trials.
Both Fox-Pitt and New Zealander Nicholson are both in with a chance of winning the £230,000 Rolex Grand Slam – awarded to the rider who wins consecutive Burghley, Kentucky and Badminton titles and last won ten years ago by Pippa Funnell.
And whilst Nicholson is the reigning Burghley and Kentucky champion, Fox-Pitt’s 2011 Burghley triumph and 2012 Kentucky victory were carried over to this season after last year’s Badminton trials were cancelled.
But both will have to maintain the pace set by reigning Olympic, World and European champion Michael Jung who currently leads the trials on horse La Biosthetique-Sam after posting a score of 36.0 on the second day of dressage.
Fox-Pitt lies in fifth with Parklane Hawk after a round of 40.0 but has Nicholson close behind him in sixth after scoring 40.2 on Nereo – putting just 7.3 penalties between the top ten riders.
And Fox-Pitt insists whilst he must be wary of a charge from Nicholson, he must keep an eye out on the other competitors who have so far proved more than a match for the both of them.
“I have always respected Andrew Nicholson's riding ability. He is a world-class rider, and he is often the one to beat, but there are a lot of people to beat here,” said Fox-Pitt.
"It is a little bit like 2010 at Cheltenham when everyone talked about Denman and Kauto Star, and who won the Gold Cup? Neither of them.
"I hope it's all going to go my way and I am going to win, but you have to say it is unlikely.
"Conditions are very favourable, and it is a very open, prestigious field. This is not the 100-metres hurdles, it is an event over four days. There are so many factors.
"It has been 10 years since anyone has won the Grand Slam, which speaks for itself. Pippa [Funnell] had two incredible horses, and she pulled it off, so to equal her in that sense would be a fantastic feeling.
"At that time, she was pretty much unbeatable, so 10 years on it would be great to be in that position, but in our sport I am a big believer that you can only worry about what you can control.
"I have got a chance, but you have got a chance of winning the lottery. It would undoubtedly be the most significant thing I have won, if I manage to do it."
© Sportsbeat 2013