Ruth’s was the test many predicted would top yesterday’s leader, Laura Collett, and her score of 33.3 proved her ongoing skill in this phase with the 17-year-old Two Thyme.
“He was a little hot today, but that led to him producing some really good work,” she said. “He’s got to be nearly on edge to produce his best test.
“Because he’s an older horse, I haven’t worked him hard this week — he’s probably not had an hour’s dressage schooling all week. That kept him fresh and good in his body and though there were a couple of tense moments, it helped him produce the flamboyance of the rest of the test.”
Piggy French has taken second place on 36 with her ride from last year’s World Equestrian Games, Jakata. Piggy scored the only 10 of the competition, for her final centreline from ground jury president Anne-Mette Binder at C.
“I first realised when I heard the crowd gasp and clap again,” she said. “I had already given him a big pat and a hug and felt like I was about to cry, and then the tears streamed down my face. All the support and cheering makes you feel quite emotional.”
Yesterday’s leader, first-timer Laura Collett holds third place with her score of 36.5 on Rayef. She revealed today that she plans to take one long route on tomorrow’s cross-country.
“I think I will go long at the corners [HS1 Farmyard, fence 15] — so many horses misread them last year, plus he’s inexperienced after having 2010 off and it’s my first Badminton,” said Laura. “But I plan to go straight everywhere else.”
Mark Todd has taken fourth on four-star debutant NZB Land Vision, Emily Baldwin slotted Drivetime into fifth and yesterday’s runner-up Marina Kohncke (Calma Schelly) is sixth.
The cross-country starts at 12 noon tomorrow with Andrew Nicholson and Avebury first on course.
With fast ground expected, there are likely to be quite a few rounds inside the optimum time, but the top 10 is full of inexperienced or unreliable combinations, so leader board changes are also likely. Eight of the top 11 horses are Badminton debutants — and the three horses which have been here before have all failed to complete on a previous visit here, although Drivetime and Two Thyme have both completed on another occasion.
Don’t forget to buy Horse & Hound next week (28 April) for our 15-page special Badminton report including comments from Carl Hester and Mark Phillips, day-by-day analysis of all the action and more.