The German star rode Designer 10 into a more consistently correct frame than the horse has typically shown in the past with expression that no other partnership could match. They topped the leader board on 34.5pen. Among the highlights of the test was the halt before the rein back, which earnt a 10 from judge Anne-Mette Binder.
Bettina put Designer 10’s improved performance down to a change of bit and a different warm-up routine.
“Designer doesn’t find the dressage easy. He’s not built to be a dressage horse. But he seems to prefer the double bridle to the snaffle. He doesn’t need the curb at all, but he does stretch more forward to my hand in the double than a snaffle.
“I now do a lot of rising trot in our warm-up – I did rising trot for the last five minutes before coming into the test – to take the pressure off his back and give him a rest from me sitting, which makes him feel more comfortable.”
H&H dressage columnist, Anna Ross, described Bettina’s test as “the best work we’ve seen today” and the judges were clearly in agreement with her.
Bill Levett is in second with a polished, well-presented test from Improvise, who was a reserve for Australia’s Olympic team. They scored 42.5pen to sit in second place overnight.
“It’s been a year of nearlys for him so far,” explained Bill, who disagreed with William Fox-Pitt’s suggestion in H&H that the cross-country course might be a little softer than in previous years.
“In the riders’ briefing Mark Phillips warned us not to underestimate the track and I think there is plenty out there. It’s a hard track for sure. With good ground it should be possible to get the time, although Improvise is a bit tricky as he can get strong, which makes it difficult to go fast, but he’s got good form here and I’m confident he will keep galloping to the end.”
The highest placed British rider is Paul Sims with Glengarnock in third place. Paul was the second rider into the arena for the second year in a row and he thinks that might have played to his advantage.
“Glengarnock has been here a few times now and this year he’s felt very relaxed. He was working comfortably within himself this morning. I’ve always known he was capable of doing a test like that, but to do it on the day and sit in third overnight is incredible.”
In fourth is United States’ Elisa Wallace riding Simply Priceless on 46.8pen while Rosalind Canter completes the top five for Britain with Allstar B.
Follow the second day of dressage action with H&H Live from 9.30am on Friday 2 September