Polly Stockton (pictured) produced an impressively consistent dressage test at Badminton this morning, on a surface which is starting to deteriorate due to the weather. She now lies in third place with 44.0 with the stunning 11-year-old Tangleman, only slightly hampering the Australian invasion.
The Aussie challenge has continued to gather momentum today with a high-quality test from Sammi McLeod on 10-year old Enchanted. She moves into fifth position to add to the strength of the Australian mission. The commanding Australian showing prompted Matt Ryan to say yesterday: “We reckon that Australia will have six riders in the top 10 on Sunday – we are all feeling pretty confident.”
Meanwhile, British youngster Laurence Hunt, who is at his first Badminton, rode a very pleasing test on his own Proud Ginger. His score of 50.8 leaves him in 10th place and he expressed an ambitious desire to finish within the top 15 this weekend. If he can maintain this high standard of performance throughout all three phases, then he is in with a very good chance of achieving his aim.
Fellow Brit John Marsden, the oldest competitor at Badminton this year, was rewarded with a well-deserved 11th place with the impressive Shellelagh Gold. Long-listed Tina Cook made further claims to a place on the Olympic team on Captain Christy, sneaking into the top 20 with 54.6. However, Rodney Powell, who is also vying for a flight to Athens, produced a disappointing test on Major Sweep, who looked as if he would rather be on the hunting field.
French military man Gilles Viricel did his country proud on Blakring*Mili*Hn, recording a score of 54.4 to slip into 12th place behind Leslie Law, while his young compatriot, Benoit Parent, had too much trouble with the details on Milcane to make an impression.
It could well be all change later today as several quality performances are expected to follow this afternoon, including those competitors riding their second horses. Pippa Funnell and William Fox-Pitt ride their more experienced horses, Cornerman and Tamarillo, while Caroline Pratt will be hoping to make amends with Call Again Cavalier for her disastrous result on Primitive Control yesterday.