Australia’s Christopher Burton and Holstein Park Leilani (pictured above) top the leader board at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials 2013 after the first day of dressage.

The 17-year-old chestnut mare produced an attractive and consistent test, which appealed to the judges for a score of 43, her best score at three- or four-star to date.

Christopher said: “She is a lovely old horse, but not the most extravagant so you have to ride for as few mistakes as you possible can. I was delighted with how she stayed with me. I was aiming for a sub-45 score so I’m thrilled with 43 to lead.”

Early leader and fellow Aussie Sam Griffiths is just 0.3pen behind with Happy Times. Their polished test had just a couple of minor mistakes, including some extra flying changes at the end of the extended canter across the diagonal.

Sam blamed himself for the errors. “I made a few mistakes in there and gave away a few points, but I was really pleased with how he went. He’s in good form at the moment and there are some good combinations coming tomorrow, so hopefully we can stay towards the top of the leader board.”

In third is Andrew Nicholson with his first ride, the attractive grey Avebury on 45, one mark ahead of his Rolex Grand Slam rival William Fox-Pitt (Oslo, pictured below right). Andrew also blamed himself for a miscommunication, this time in the canter strike off after the rein back.

“I was a bit annoyed with myself as I pushed the wrong buttons in the transition, which was my fault, but he picked himself up and did some of the best canter work he has done at this level,” explained Andrew.

William Fox-Pitt (GBR) riding Oslo in the dressage of the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials 2013The judges were split on William’s test with president of the ground jury Sandy Phillips (sitting at C) scoring it 7.67% less than Jennie Loriston-Clarke at B.

Ireland’s Aoife Clarke brought the day’s competition to a close with a quality test from her Olympic ride Master Crusoe for 45.8pen and equal fourth.

“You always want to do better and iron out a few mistakes, but I’m thrilled. He let me ride him, even though it was windy in there today — in the warm-up ring my hat blew off, so I had to get back on and put it on again, which wasn’t ideal.”

Looking ahead to the cross-country Andrew said: “I think Hugh [Thomas, Badminton director and course-designer] has done a very good job. It’s difficult enough. From the Lake onwards is serious jumping to the very end.

“I expect the turn into the Lake will prove difficult for many riders. And he has been clever with the Mirage Pond water, using it as a hazard. The new footbridge is a big fence.”

Meanwhile Mark Todd views the course rather differently.

It looks like a three-star course with a few four-star fences in the middle,” he said after his dressage test. “This is the strongest field ever here and Hugh hasn’t built a course for that standard. It’ll get a result, but I don’t think it’s a true four-star.”

Badminton Horse Trials 2013 results: day one dressage

1. Holstein Park Leilani (Christopher Burton) AUS 43

2. Happy Times (Sam Griffiths) AUS 43.3

3. Avebury (Andrew Nicholson) NZL 45

=4. Oslo (William Fox-Pitt) GBR 45.8

=4. Master Crusoe (Aoife Clark) IRL 45.8

6. Leopin FST (Michael Jung) GER 46.5

=7. Imperial Cavalier (Mary King) GBR 47.3

=7. Borough Pennyz (Vittoria Panizzon ) ITA 47.3

=7. Simon Porloe (Lucy Wiegersma) GBR 47.3

10. LePrince Des Bois (Kai Ruder) GER 47.8

Follow the second day of dressage action as it happens with H&H Live, starting at 9am