Andrew Hoy sailed into a convincing lead at Badminton this afternoon, executing a masterful test on Moonfeet. The pair scored a remarkable 36.5 pen, pushing them ahead of current leader Ingrid Klimke on 40.4 pen. An excellent test from young talent Oliver Townend has moved him into fifth place on Flint Curtis. Townend’s score ensures a triumvirate of British riders at the top of the leader board. Ruth Edge now lies in third place behind Klimke with Terry Boon in fourth.

Young Italian talent Susanna Bordone was first to enter the arena after lunch. Bordone, sporting her Italian police uniform made an attractive picture aboard Ava. An elegant test with just a couple of mistakes has left them in 30th position after the dressage.

Jeanette Brakewell was the first Brit in the arena this afternoon with Over to You appearing in top fitness. Brakewell has been on every British team since 1990 and won silver at the Europeans last year. A score of 52 has left them in 22nd position overnight. Lucy Wiegersma was slightly disappointed with her score of 49.4 with second ride Shaabrak. “There were a few rough edges, still” she told Badminton Radio afterwards, “But basically I was quite pleased and am a little disappointed with the mark.” But Wiegersma is in a good position, lying equal 15th with Shaabrak and 28th on In the Purple.

Apart from Wiegersma, Hoy was the only other rider to trump his first horse’s score, dispelling the myth that Friday afternoon boasts all the best horses. Francis Whittington failed to beat his 56.5 pen score of yesterday morning, with the big striding Osh Kosh. Whittington now lies 33rd on Spin Doctor and 44th on Osh Kosh.

It was a similar story for Daisy Dick. A few mistakes with the grey Hope Street leaves her in 44th position but equal 12th on Spring Along. William Fox-Pitt and Ballincoola produced an even, rhythmic test until the 12-year-old gelding seemed to get his tongue caught in the bit. Fox-Pitt rode with true showmanship and managed to disguise the problem but the eventual mark was only good enough for 17th place.

But Andrew Hoy was undoubtedly cream of the crop with Moonfleet. “The way he was going in the dressage was just magnificent,” Hoy said afterwards, adding that his wife Bettina has helped the horse’s dressage; “I was really quite nervous as I haven’t ridden him much and I didn’t want to let Bettina down.” According to Hoy Bettina’s voice was ringing in his ears throughout the test; “One thing Bettina was wanting me to do was not pull back against him,” he explained.

The competitors spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the sun and making final preparations for tomorrow’s all-important cross-country phase. “It is going to be faster than it has been in other years, “ said Hoy, “the time is going to be very tight to get.” But Hoy was quick to compliment course designer Hugh Thomas, “he has designed a course where the fences look magnificent but there is a lot of jumping to do out there.’ And Hoy is well aware of the presence of Ingrid Klimke, less than four penalties behind him. “Without doubt Ingrid is a very good rider and a true winner,” he said.

Polly Stockton and Regulus will be first in the starting box tomorrow morning, at 11:10 am followed by Lucy Wiegersma and In the Purple.

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