Hoy poised for first Badminton triumph

  • Australia’s Andrew Hoy dominates the leader board following foot perfect rounds on both Moonfleet and Mr Pracatan. Hoy, who won at Kentucky last week, now holds first and sixth place as Saturday’s cross-country phase draws to a close. British riders proved their cross-country skills; Germany’sIngrid Klimke is now the only non-Brit apart from Hoy in the top ten. A superb performance from Oliver Townend has moved him into third position, followed by Terry Boon, Ruth Edge, Sharon Hunt, Lucy Wiegersma and William Fox-Pitt.

    “I finalised which routes I was taking earlier this morning,” Hoy said afterwards, “I chose to take the longer route at the coffin as I find it so much more user friendly.” According to Hoy the course rode extremely well but the time was quite tight, “it might look easy to get the time but it’s not,” he said.

    Oliver Townend is thrilled with his day two position. Relaxing with a beer afterwards he said: “Andrew [Hoy] did his first Badminton four years before I was born.” In hindsight Townend liked the competition’s new shorter format, which excludes the roads and tracks phases. “I think the short format adds a little more pressure to get it right; before the competition did the warm up but now we have to – it’s more brain taxing!”

    Germany’s Ingrid Klimke’s concerns about the Lake proved unfounded when she completed clear with just 2.8 time penalties. “Everything went the way we planned. I was thrilled how well Sleep Late did it,” she said, “When I galloped to fence 27 I already had a big smile on my face.”

    As hoards of spectators flooded into a cloud-covered Badminton Park, there were a few white faces amongst competitors. Polly Stockton and Regulus were first out onto the course, proving the quick routes at both the Countryside Close and the Lake were possible. The pair made the Hunt Kennels appear easy as they sailed into the later part of the course, finishing clear with 10.4 time penalties. Lucy Wiegersma was next up with In the Purple. After taking the long route at the Lake, Wiegersma took direct routes for the rest of the course, finishing on her dressage score of 53.7 pen.

    Francis Whittington set off in good style but lost his reins jumping into the Lake, leaving Spin Doctor galloping towards a barrage of anxious looking photographers on the other side. Whittington was quick to regain control and negotiated the longer route out of the water. But a fall at the Vicarage Vee – a fence synonymous with Badminton Horse Trials – made Whittington the first casualty of the day. Fortunately both horse and rider were uninjured and Whittington finished the cross-country phases on a high with a beautiful clear on his second horse Osh Kosh, leaving him in 32nd position.

    Two Thyme didn’t seem to be giving Ruth Edge the easiest of rides, forcing her to take a couple of longer options. But the pair completed clear with just 4.6 time penalties, pushing them down a place to finish fifth behind Terry Boon. Foreign Exchange and Boon set off on the cross-country with plenty of determination and a stylish round earned them just 3.4 time faults. Meanwhile Boon’s other ride, Cashel Bay, ridden today by Mary King, also finished clear. King and Cashel Bay are an extremely new partnership but King’s cross-country prowess shone through and the pair took all the direct routes, to finish clear in 20th position.

    World Class Potential riders Oliver Townend and Daisy Dick were on flying form, completing clear on each of their two rides. Townend now lies in third place with Flint Curtis following a very positive round and Dick is ninth on Spring Along. Last to go William Fox-Pitt and Ballincoola made up for a slightly disappointing dressage mark with a stunning clear round within the time.

    Young Badminton debutants Harry Meade and Susanna Bordone (Ita) were both thrilled with their clear rounds. Meade and Midnight Dazzler finished within the time to take 33rd position and Bordone clocked up 0.4 time penalties –and now lies an impressive 20th. Popular British rider Beanie Hughes also made an impressive Badminton debut with Duel. Sporting Felix the Fox stickers on her riding hat, Hughes finished clear inside the time. “He’s an amazing horse – I’m so lucky,” she told Radio Badminton afterwards, “He’s [Duel] been laying trails for the Heythrop all winter – I love my hunter.”

    With 19 competitors finishing clear without time faults, the dressage phase still dictates the top places. But with the show jumping phase still to go, there could still be dramatic changes to the leader board. Meanwhile Hoy is quietly confident, “Both horses have the ability to go clear if they jump well,” he said.

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