Mary King leads halfway through cross-country day at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.

Riding Imperial Cavalier (14th equal after dressage), Mary added just 2.4 time-penalties on Hugh Thomas’s course, which is causing plenty of problems for the riders.

Mary explained a couple of dodgy moments at the Countryside Complex (fence 14) and the HSBC Hexagon Hedge (fence 17) by the fact she lost concentration while she was held for about 10 minutes on course.

She was stopped after The Lake (fence 12) due to Alex Hua Tian falling at the first of the corners at the HS1 Farmyard with Jeans, causing the frangible pins to break and the whole fence to collapse — as it should, to prevent a more serious fall.

“It’s difficult to keep your mind on the job, everyone’s chatting and I’m a bit of a chatterer, asking people if they’ve got a gin and tonic,” said Mary on Radio Badminton. “I didn’t ride [the Countryside Complex] very well, but he felt fantastic all the way round.”

Germany’s Simone Deitermann is in second at this stage with Free Easy NRW, who had six time-penalties, while vet James Robinson holds third with Comanche.

Influential fences

The HS1 Farmyard has been an influential fence — among the other problems, William Fox-Pitt’s ride Macchiato picked up 20pen.

“He gave me a superb ride and didn’t do anything wrong at all, but at the second of corners he jumped to the left of the white flag — he didn’t know it was there to be jumped,” said William.

“I was very aware that back rail was unclear to horses [because of the way it was sawn off and shorter than the front rail] — I think some of them thought the back rail was a guard rail and they were just hopping over the angle.”

The best placed victim of the course so far is Ruth Edge, second after dressage with Two Thyme. She fell off when the horse pecked on landing after jumping awkwardly over the HSBC Hexagon Hedge (fence 17).

Two inside the time

Only two riders so far have gone inside the time. Nicola Wilson (née Tweddle) and Opposition Buzz put in their customary speedy round, and the other to hold the honour is British first-timer Sian Wynne Morris on Just Appeal.

“He’s had a sore mouth so I’ve been a bit conscious of it, and just tried to use my body instead of my hands so I lost a bit of the fight,” said Sian. “It was a bit forwards but he was brilliant and answered all the questions.”

Officials made two changes to the course before the start, and the ground is holding up well after a wet night.

There have been several falls, but all the horses and riders have walked away.

RESULTS AT 2PM

1.Mary King on Imperial Cavalier (GB) 47.2
2.Simone Deitermann on Free Easy NRW (GER) 48.2
3.James Robinson on Comanche (GB) 48.3
4.Daisy Berkeley on Spring Along (GB) 50.4
5.Carolyne Ryan-Bell on Rathmoyle King (GB) 53
6.Nicola Wilson on Opposition Buzz (GB) 55.3

Log back on for an end of cross-country report later.

Don’t miss H&H’s 15-page special report in the issue dated 6 May, including day-by-day analysis, comments from Carl Hester and Mark Phillips and much more.

Buy Badminton 2010 daily coverage DVDs in the H&H Shop