Ireland’s Jonty Evans and his crowdfunded stable star Cooley Rorkes Drift posted the highest score of Badminton’s Friday morning dressage session to slot into second place.
The pair are 0.2 penalties behind overnight leaders Ros Canter and Allstar B, performing a personal four-star best of 24.1 at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.
Australia’s Paul Tapner and Bonza King Of Rouges performed a smooth test to take provisional third, pushing Michael Jung and La Biosthetique-Sam FBW into fourth.
“I’m really pleased with him,” said Jonty.
“There’s a certain amount of expectation coming back here because of the brilliant test he did last year, but he has done it again for me.
“The one thing that I can totally rely on is that Art will go in and enjoy being in there.”
Jonty’s mark is also the best ever Irish dressage score at a CCI4*, according to equestrian data company EquiRatings.
Paul, who won here aboard Inonothing in 2010, told H&H he was “really pleased” with Bonza King Of Rouges.
“There was one mistake that probably cost me the lead, but I can’t be unhappy with that,” said Paul.
“The one error we made [in the rein-back] was the only fragile part of that test for him, so those few movements strung together was always slightly going to be damage limitation — other than that it was super.”
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Ros told H&H yesterday she was “shocked” to have gone into the lead.
“It was hard work in there and I had no idea about the marks until I had finished,” she added.
Just two penalties separate the top-10, with plenty of strong contenders still to go this afternoon.
Yesterday’s lunchtime leader Oliver Townend — who is lying in 10th with Cooley SRS on a score of 25.9 — brings forward his second ride, 2017 Burghley winner Ballaghmor Class at 4.36pm.
Sam Griffiths and his 2014 winner Paulank Brockagh will enter the arena at 3.12pm, with Piggy French, Harry Meade, Gemma Tattersall, Caroline Powell and Mark Todd among the others drawn to start this afternoon.
Read an interview with Badminton first-timer Will Furlong in the current issue of H&H (dated 3 May), plus Badminton predictions from equestrian data experts EquiRatings.
Our bumper 24-page Badminton report will be in our 10 May issue, including opinion from Oliver Townend, Mark Phillips and Peter Storr.