Ruth scored 39 on Phil and Maureeen Smith’s British open winner Two Thyme, after an accurate, polished test.
Two Thyme has not done a three-day event since winning Luhmühlen four-star in 2008 and Ruth explained: “He had a little bit of leg trouble, and though he hasn’t had a season off, he keeps needing a little holiday. Last season his aim was Gatcombe — where he helped me keep my British open title — and this year it’s Badminton.”
Ruth, who competes successfully in pure dressage as well as eventing, trains with Judy Harvey and also had help from Bert Rutten in Holland last winter. She added that Two Thyme’s fitness regime involves swimming twice a week.
Listen to interview with Ruth after her test
Kitty King (née Boggis) made a late bid for the top of the leader board when she grabbed second place at the end of the day on New Zealand thoroughbred Boondoggle. They lie 5.3pen behind Ruth on 44.3.
Kitty said: “He’s getting better and better in the dressage — when I took over the ride  he got a bit tight and upset, but we’ve worked a lot on his confidence and he’s really beginning to swing and sit.”
Listen to Kitty King interview
Mary King is in third on 44.8 with Imperial Cavalier, back in the limelight after missing his planned run at the European Championships last year with some inflammation of the hind suspensory ligament.
Mary said that “Archie” had been buzzed up by a loudspeaker crackling before her test started, and she was surprised to retain her high placing as the day went on.
Initial reactions to the course
Of Hugh Thomas’s cross-country course, Ruth Edge said: “The jumps look imposing and inviting and that makes you want to attack. It’s a clever course with the twists and turns, but without having to pull the horse about too much, and I think it will be very challenging for the level.”
Ruth said that how tight the time proves will depend on the weather and ground, and if it becomes wet — as forecast — she may be pleased to have an early draw on Sunday (cross-country day) after initial disappointment at being so early.
Mary King said that the two angled hedges at the Colt Pond (fence 16) look “quite awkward” and that she will be sitting up at the offset logs at the Rolex Crossing (fences 29 and 30) where she fell two years ago when in line for victory with Imperial Cavalier.
RESULTS AFTER FIRST DAY OF DRESSAGE
1.Ruth Edge on Two Thyme (GB) 39
2.Kitty King on Boondoggle (GB) 44.3
3.Mary King on Imperial Cavalier (GB) 44.8
4.Simone Deitermann on Free Easy NRW (GER) 45
5.William Fox-Pitt on Macchiato (GB) 45.8
6.Clayton Fredericks on The Frog (AUS) 46.5
Re-live H&H’s live written dressage coverage of today’s action.
Don’t miss H&H’s 15-page special report in the issue dated 6 May, including day-by-day analysis, comments from Carl Hester and Mark Phillips and much more.