Pippa Funnell shot ahead of the field at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials this afternoon, her test with Primmore’s Pride scoring 40.9, which made her the dressage leader by 5.2 penalties.

Pippa received a 10 for her medium trot from the judge at C, Martin Plewa, but Primmore’s Pride broke into canter in the extended trot — a movement she received three 10s for at the Athens Olympics last year.

Pippa said: “I’m furious with myself. I came round the corner and thought, ‘This is one movement I can really go for because I got such a good mark for it in Athens.’ Perhaps I didn’t have him quite balanced enough before I asked.”

The team silver and individual bronze medallist has won Badminton twice on Supreme Rock — who was withdrawn from this year’s event last week, and at 17 years old will be retired in a special ceremony at Badminton on Sunday.

William Fox-Pitt is in second with his 2004 winner, Tamarillo, who scored 46.1. But William admitted it could have been a different story as it was difficult to contain horse’s exuberance.

“It wasn’t one of my most pleasurable six or seven minutes,” he said. “He felt like maybe he could have done a 70 at any stage and I wasn’t quite sure what to do about it.”

At lunchtime the talk was all about two first-timers who had burst into the top five. Francis Whittington, 27, took the lead with the last test before the break, riding Margaret Smith’s 11-year-old grey Spin Doctor, with whom he completed Burghley last year. Their test earnt a score of 46.7, which left them in third at the end of the day.

Francis raised a laugh at the press conference when he said: “The only problem is that being called Francis a lot of you think I’m a girl, and now that I’m good at dressage you’ll either think I’m a girl or that I’m queer!” In fact Francis is an item with fellow competitor Julie Tew, who lies 59th with Simply Samuel.

Earlier Japanese rider Yoshiaki Oiwa, 28, went into third with his 18-year-old Voyou Du Roc. He now lies in equal seventh place overnight, tied with Eddy Stibbe (Autumn Sky), who at 56 is one of the oldest competitors.

Leslie Law’s accurate test with his Athens partner Shear L’Eau, gave them fourth place, while Polly Jackson is ninth with the charming coloured horse Two For Joy, having had the unenviable task of performing sandwiched between Pippa Funnell and William Fox-Pitt.

Many were interested to see the first test of the day, which was performed by Mary King riding the Davies and Jeanette Chinn’s Call Again Cavalier, who was previously ridden by the late Caroline Pratt. A good test — which some considered harshly marked — scored 53.5, leaving them in 16th, just one place below Vicky Brake (Charlton Connor), who originally produced Call Again Cavalier.

Competitors and spectators are now poised for tomorrow’s cross-country. Francis Whittington said he plans to take most of the straight routes on Hugh Thomas’ course, but admitted that he may now be tempted to play safe near the end of the track

Results after dressage day two

1. Primmore’s Pride (Pippa Funnell) 40.9;
2. Tamarillo (William Fox-Pitt) 46.1;
3. Spin Doctor (Francis Whittington) 46.7;
4. Shear L’Eau (Leslie Law) 48;
5. Ballincoola (William Fox-Pitt) 48.7;
6. Zarzoo (Milla Healey) 49.3;
7=. Voyou Du Roc (Yoshiaki Oiwa) JPN 50.2;
7=. Autumn Sky (Eddy Stibbe) AHO 50.2;
9. Two For Joy (Polly Jackson) 50.9;
10. Master Monarch (Andrew Hoy) AUS 51.