Pippa leads after dressage at Badminton

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    Pippa Funnell, the reigning European champion, has swept into a commanding lead at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton horse trials with a dressage test that was in a class of its own.

    “I think that was the best test he’s ever done,” said an emotional Pippa of her partnerSupreme Rock. “He felt very easy to ride and, apart from a couple of ‘whoopsies’ in the changes, I don’t think he could have done anything better.”

    Pippa now has a six-point lead over Australian triple Olympic gold medallist Andrew Hoy on Darien Powers.

    Britain’s Rodney Powell, the 1991 winner, has slotted into third place on Flintstone ahead of the reigning world champion Blyth Tait on Welton Envoy.

    Changes were again the nemesis for Envoy, as they were for several horses in this new test written by Chris Bartle, but he received two 10s for his perfect trot work.

    Saturday’s cross-country challenge

    Several riders, however, including Pippa and Blyth, are viewing the cross-country course with some respect, as it is very much a twisting accuracy test rather than a big, scopey, galloping track.

    Andrew Hoy intends to take the slow route at the Carisma Pond, the first water, where there is a serious bounce drop into the water.

    The defending champion Mary King, now equal sixth on King Solomon, is more optimistic. “Solomon is probably more athletic than either Star Appeal or King William, and this track should suit him.”

    Tristram Owers, who hit the headlines when leading the first day’s dressage in 2000, proved that was no fluke when he produced another lovely test on Hatherden’s Riverdanced, lying equal sixth with Mary.

    William Fox-Pitt’s “dark horse” Tamarillo , who has not had a three-day run for 18 months but who looked to have matured considerably, is also equal sixth, ahead of New Zealand newcomer Matthew Grayling, the Adelaide four-star winner, who rode an excellent test on Revo in a torrential downpour.

    First horse in on Phase D at ll.48am.

    Follow the action on the Badminton website www.badminton-horse.co.uk

    Results after second day dressage:1,Pippa Funnell, 31.61; 2, Andrew Hoy, 37.6; 3, Rodney Powell, 38.4; 4, Blyth Tait, 39.6; 5, Arnaud Boiteau, 39.8; 6=, Mary King, Tristram Owers & William Fox-Pitt, 41.8; 9, MatthewGrayling, 42.4; 10=, Polly Stockton, Amy Tryon, 42.6; 12=, Lucinda Fredericks, Isla Johnson-Wells, 43.2.

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