Andrew Nicholson has taken the lead after the first morning of dressage at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.

The New Zealander was the fourth competitor and scored 45.2 with Mark Chamberlayne’s Henry Tankerville. Last year’s Bramham winner performed a relaxed test, with Andrew scoring 8s from all three judges for his riding.

“I was particularly pleased with the canter, because that has improved,” said Andrew (pictured).

Andreas Dibowski lies second on 45.8 with FRH Little Lemon, the horse on whom he was 13th here last year. The German team member rode a brave test, scoring highly in the extended work, although he admitted he was slightly disappointed with his mark.

Ruth Edge is best of the British in third, having scored 47.2 on Ann Lawson’s Marsh Mayfly. Ruth, 27, scored a 9 for her riding from the ground jury president, Germany’s Christoph Hess, who is generally giving final scores 1-2% higher than Australia’s Barry Roycroft and Britain’s Jane Tolley.

“I’d hoped for a mark in the 40s and I’m really pleased with her,” said Ruth.

Oliver Townend had a frustrating time with Flint Curtis — third here last year — who scored 53.2 after a tense test.

“He was very naive last year,” said Oli. “I think he’ll come back [to that good work] but it takes time. Outside he feels capable of doing a ridiculously good test, but in the arena the atmosphere gets to him.”

Ruth and Andreas both said the cross-country course is bigger than last year and were among the riders who expressed worries about the hard ground.

“The ground is hard and there’s been a lot of criticism,” said Event Riders Association chairman and winner of last week’s Rolex Kentucky Horse Trials Clayton Fredericks. “But it’s hard to make a judgement until we see what work they do on it.”

The Badminton team are watering the take-offs and landings, using the equi-vator on parts of the course and spreading 500 tons of topsoil around the track.

RESULTS AT THURSDAY LUNCHTIME

1. Henry Tankerville (Andrew Nicholson, NZL) 45.2
2. FRH Little Lemon (Andreas Dibowski, GER) 45.8
3. Marsh Mayfly (Ruth Edge, GB) 47.2
4. The Ghost Of Hamish (Peter Thomsen, GER) 49.4
5. Two O Two (Antoinette McKeowen, GB) 49.8
6. Opposition Buzz (Nicola Wilson, GB) 50.8

Visit www.badminton-horse.co.uk for scoreboard updates.

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