Horse & Hound has a new crush. We were chatting in the press room, attention slightly off the pace, when H&H’s eventing editor, Pippa, pointed out reprovingly that “this is a really good test”.

Heads swivelled to the telly, where Italian rider Roberto Rotatori was packing in the eights on Irham De Viages. He parachuted in to second place at this stage with a mark of 43.7. We bolted out of the press office and down to the collecting ring to interview him.

It’s just great when someone unexpected does really well – 90% of the time we are interviewing people who we know riding horses we have all heard lots about before, and it’s hard to find something new.

Forty-one-year-old Roberto Rotatori (great name) was thrilled with his horse’s performance but, unlike we ignoramuses (ignorami?) he wasn’t surprised.

“I’m not a great dressage rider, but this horse is a machine,” he said modestly.

Riders usually say they are looking forward to the cross-country, even if it scares them rigid, but Roberto really can’t wait.

“I’ve been here about 10 times to watch but this is my first Badminton as a rider, and I’m so excited about it,” he said. “My horse loves cross-country and is very clever. When I ride him, it feels like a pre-novice [he’s obviously not quite up to speed on BE100], not a four-star. The course is big but beautiful.”

The pair jumped clear in Beijing last year – how brilliant if they ended up in the top 10, or as the best first-timers. I know I’ll be cheering for him.

Now to more crucial matters. H&H diarist Dee Kennedy (pictured) showed me a picture on her phone at the cocktail party last night of her Jimmy Choos, which she wore to the trot-up. Totally covetable and gorgeous, but how on earth does she run in them? And aren’t they wrecked afterwards? Will she have a different pair for the second horse inspection on Sunday? What if a heel snaps – will she keep running on two different levels, or kick both off? We need to know…

Check later for a report of the second day of dressage.

Don’t forget to buy H&H next week (14 May) — our 15-page Badminton report will include comments from Carl Hester, Mark Todd and Tina Cook, plus cross-country course analysis and plenty of colour photographs.