Germany’s Ingrid Klimke has taken the overnight lead at the 2006 Badminton Horse Trials (4-7 May). Klimke and Sleep Late produced a smooth, correct test, pushing morning leaders Ruth Edge and Two Thyme into second place. Terry Boon remains in third position but Pascal Leroy from France has inched into fourth place, as day one draws to a close.

Pippa Funnell was the first of this afternoon’s riders to threaten this morning’s top ten. But a tense test from the relatively inexperienced Ensign has left them in thirteenth position overnight. Lucy Kemplay and Karl d’Cymbeline enjoyed a good start to their debut Badminton, scoring an impressive 51.5% and 11th position. But by 3:15 pm Ingrid Klimke had sailed into the lead, her score of 40.4 proving untouchable.

Although Klimke and Sleep Late were bronze medallists in the European Championships in Germany 2005, the pair has never competed at Badminton. “I went to watch in 1995,” Klimke explained, “But at the time I thought I would never manage it.” She maintains that it was German team coach Christopher Bartle who encouraged German competitors to attempt Badminton. “Usually German riders like watching Badminton but they’re not keen on riding it,” she explained, “But now they’re thinking ‘let’s go for it!’”

But by tea the other top places were by no means settled. An uphill, extravagant test from France’s Pascal Leroy and Glenburny du Leou saw them moving into fourth position ahead of Karin Donckers and Andrew Hoy. Dirk Schrade made an attractive picture in his military uniform and performed a particularly attractive test on the mare Sindy 43 to take seventh position behind Hoy.

By 4:30pm only Rodney Powell and Clare Chamberlayne could knock Germany out of pole position. Powell and former racehorse Liquid Ice produced a precise test with some very nice steps but an expensive mistake on the final flying change left them in 14th place. Clare Chamberlayne and Astronave scored 73.9 pen.

Several of today’s riders will be riding another test tomorrow. Lucy Wiegersma, Francis Whittington, Matthew Wright, Nick Gauntlett, Daisy Dick and William Fox-Pitt are all British riders competing on two horses. But the rest of today’s competitors can now focus their attentions on the cross-country course. Ingrid Klimke is confident that the Lake complex is likely to cause a few problems: “I think the water will definitely be a sharp turn,” she maintains.

Ruth Edge agrees; “It is the first time horses will see the immense crowds.” According to Edge the course poses plenty of questions; “It’s only Thursday,” she said in explanation of her calm demeanour, “the jumping just doesn’t stop until you reach the Normandy Bank.” And as a member of the World Class Potential Squad, much hope has been invested in her; “it’s a great honour to be on the programme. When the time comes it would be a great honour to represent the country,” she said.

As day one draws to a close, riders are returning from cross-country course walks and preparing for tonight’s cocktail party. With another day of dressage still to go, the starting order for Saturday’s cross-country is by no means decided.

Sharon Hunt will be first in the arena on Tankers Town at 9:45am tomorrow morning.

H&H text results service

If you can’t make Badminton this year, or you need to leave early, sign up to H&H’s exclusive SMS service to receive a text message at the end of each competition day. You’ll be notified of the five leading riders and their scores, plus up the latest news.

To sign up for this service, simply text BADMINTON to 86611. All messages received cost 25p + standard network charges. You will receive a minimum of one and maximum of three messages per day – service commences 4/5/06. To stop the service simply text STOP to 86611.

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