Kim Severson and Winsome Adante soared into the lead after the dressage at the Rolex Kentucky horse trials. Rain has not stopped for 36 hours but the duo skipped over the sloppy conditions in the sloppy sand arena to drop just 38.2 penalties.

Leslie Law and Coup de Coeur share second with Darren Chiachia on Livingstone on 46. Andrew Hoy, going for the second leg of the Rolex Grand Slam, is equal fourth on Moonfleet, whose candenced test appeared harshly marked on 47, and 14th on his first ride, Yeoman’s Point. The third British-based rider, Eddy Stibbe, is handily placed seventh with Dusky Moon on 48.8.

The steeplechase may be reduced to 10 min 30 secs due to worsening conditions, but riders are pragmatic about the test ahead.

“I have never run Adante in really bad weather — but he is the one horse I’d want to ride in really bad weather,” said Kim.

Leslie and Coup de Coeur are attempting their first three-day event, having had four prior one-day starts since he acquired the ride from Rebecca Gibbs.

Paying tribute to her production of the horse, Leslie said: “I will be learning about him as we go along, but he is potentially the best horse I’ve ever had.

“We are very lucky to have Mike Etherington-Smith building here – he is the best course-builder in the world. Although there is no let-up, everything is fair and safe.

“I shall be having a go: we are not just here for the beer.”

Whereas Britons seem resigned to the death of long format, a US pressure group is campaigning for its retention. Many spectators are wearing T-shirts bearing the legend: “Keep it classic — it’s as simple as ABC and D.”