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Paul Tapner takes early lead at Badminton Horse Trials 2014 [VIDEO]

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Former Badminton title holder Paul Tapner has got his 2014 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials campaign off to an ideal start by leading the dressage at the end of the first day.

Riding Penny and Fred Barker’s attractive grey gelding Kilronan, the 2010 winner rode a very consistent test despite the challenging weather conditions. The 13-year-old’s impressive extended paces were a particular highlight.

”I was quite happy with the weather,” said the UK-based Aussie. “ I don’t mind the rain. There is a reason I moved to this country! I thought bring it on. Let [the weather] upset everyone else but not me. “

Paul picked up 5 9s, including 2 for his riding, for a score of 36pen. H&H caught up with Paul immediately after his dressage test.

Francis Whittington and Easy Target (pictured below) are in 2nd place, just 0.2 behind Paul. One of numerous attractive grey horses that came before the judges today, Easy Target produced great quality in his way of going which Francis put down to a “learning to ride again” over the winter.

EasyTarget_Badminton14pn_12292“We knew Easy Target had the movement and I always believed we could do a test in the 30s,” he said.

“The other big difference today was how we warmed up. I’ve been working with Ian Woodhead and we planned every step yesterday, from how long we would canter to how long it takes to walk up to the arena.

“Most important was that my horse felt relaxed and I felt quite relaxed today too.”

Lucinda Fredericks rode Flying Finish into 3rd with the only other sub-40 score of the day.

“He’s going through a transition phase with new strength and working in a new frame, but I’m pleased he maintained it even in those conditions. It was quite slippery in there.”

Horse & Hound caught up with Lucinda after her test.

The weather proved particularly challenging for today’s competitors with rain and high winds providing plenty of distractions. The ground conditions in the arena began to deterioriate towards the end of the day, with some horse slipping into the final halt. The forecast for tomorrow is drier than today, but the wind still likely to be a feature.

Follow tomorrow’s dressage action with H&H Live

Badminton Horse Trials results after dressage day 1

1. Kilronan (Paul Tapner) AUS 36.0
2. Easy Target (Francis Whittington) GBR 36.2
3. Flying Finish (Lucinda Fredericks) AUS 39.0
4. NZB Campino (Mark Todd) NZL 40.5
5. Billy Beware (Pippa Funnell) GBR 42.3

View full results