BRITISH eventer William Fox-Pitt won his third Rolex Kentucky title in five years after a nerveless showjumping performance on Bay My Hero, but Marlborough-based Andrew Nicholson suffered a day to forget.

The 45-year-old Olympian had to jump clear or the season's opening four-star event would have gone to American Lauren Kieffer and Veronica.

But Fox-Pitt, who won at Kentucky in 2010 with Cool Mountain and two years ago aboard Parklane Hawk, delivered an immaculate round to finish on 44.0 penalties for the dressage, cross-country and showjumping phases.

Kieffer took second with a score of 46.7, with another American combination - Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle - finishing third.

Fox-Pitt, the overnight leader on Bay My Hero after a cross-country clear round inside the allocated time, finished ninth on his second ride Seacookie, while fellow British challenger Sarah Bullimore was 13th on Reve du Rouet.

Fox-Pitt's victory also installed him as clear leader in the 2013-14 FEI Classics Series after three of the six counting events as he warmed up for next month's Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials in impressive fashion.

World number one Nicholson and his reigning Burghley champion Avebury dropped from seventh place to 21st after having six showjumping fences down .

The foundation for Dorset-based Fox-Pitt's latest four-star triumph was built during cross-country on Saturday, when he produced another riding masterclass.

"He went superbly," said Fox-Pitt, reflecting on 11-year-old Bay My Hero's cross-country performance.

"He's not that experienced at this level, but he gave me a confident ride. He felt fantastic.

"We may have looked a bit messy in the first water complex, but it didn't feel as bad as it may have looked!"