Lucinda Fredericks leads the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials after a stunning test with her Burghley winner Headley Britannia (pictured below).

Lucinda’s polished performance earned 34.8, putting her seven marks ahead of France’s Jean-Lou Bigot, who lies second. Ground jury president Christoph Hess awarded her the first 10 of the competition for her final halt.

“She deserved it totally — there’s not a lot left for her to give,” said Lucinda of her diminutive mare, who goes for embryo transfer next week.


Lucinda Fredericks and Headley Britannia lead at the end of the first day of dressage. Photo by Kit Houghton

Lucinda’s previous best Badminton result of sixth in 1992 on Arctic Goose earned her a reserve slot for the British team at the Barcelona Olympics but she now rides for Australia. Her last full run here was in 2002.

“I’ll be riding hard and fast on Saturday because that’s the way ‘Brit’ likes to be ridden and I’m a bit braver that way,” she said. “I want to come through the finish with that amazing feeling of going round Badminton clear in the time — I’ve never had that at a four-star.”

Jean-Lou Bigot slotted into second shortly after the tea break with a score of 41.8 on Icare D’Auzay.

“It’s my second time at Badminton and this time my horse is a very serious dressage horse,” said the 1993 European Champion, who feels the getting time may be a problem for him on Saturday.

Britain’s Sharon Hunt scored the same mark as this morning’s leader Andrew Nicholson with her World Equestrian Games partner Tankers Town to lie equal third overnight. Her test scored several 9s, but also a 2 and two 4s for a mistake in the rein back.

“I’m pleased because I feel the good bits are really good now,” she said. “If I could get all the marks to 7s that would be great. The rein back is his only weakness — he gets a bit giddy and excited.”

At lunchtime Badminton director Hugh Thomas promised the team are doing “everything possible” to the ground.

“Every area of the course will be treated,” said Hugh, explaining they are using a combination of putting topsoil down and aerovating. “It won’t be perfect but we should be able to produce something very acceptable that will do the horses no harm.”

But Lucinda said: “We are at Badminton — I’m expecting miracles. There’s no excuse not to have the ground perfect for the horses.”

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Don’t miss Horse & Hound’s full 18-page magazine report, including fantastic photographs capturing the best of the action, a run down on the problem cross-country fences, former Badminton winner Ginny Elliot’s view of the winning performance and the final scoreboard, on sale 10 May ’07.

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