She may not quite have managed to overhaul the leaders Oliver Townend and Gemma Stevens, but Caroline Powell produced a stunning test on her young horse at the end of the first day of the Badminton Horse Trials dressage, at the event presented by Mars Equestrian.
Caroline and the 10-year-old mare, Greenacres Special Cavalier, moved into fourth on 27.4, just over 4pen shy of top spot. The Kiwi rider lies 0.3pen behind her compatriot Tim Price on Vitali, with Tom Jackson fifth on Capels Hollow Drift.
Watch Caroline talk about this exciting mare
This Cavalier Royale mare, owned by Chris Mann, looks to be Caroline’s best horse for some years, and produced a consistent and focused performance between the white boards. She earned nines for two of her halts, and her rideability was particularly impressive for a horse with little experience in such an atmosphere. The first flying changes were the only blip in a string of eights and 7.5s.
“She’s been an absolute joy to produce right the way through, she just loves the work,” said Caroline, who was fifth at Pau with the mare in the autumn. “Pau was really good; we just need to see what we’ve got now. She’s done a really nice test, that’s one box ticked. Who knows what will happen on Sunday, it’s a big course and there’s a lot to jump out there.”
The mare is substantially built and long – Caroline joked “there’s room for everybody on her!” – and this affects how she’s been trained.
“She’s so long, so it takes a while to connect her, because you can feel like you’re in a different county,” she said. “The main thing is we’ve tried not to change the length of her, because it went wrong when we tried and she got a bit fiery, so this is the way we need to produce her.”
Personal bests but no new leaders
It was a top-heavy day, with the majority of the best scores coming from the early riders before the lunch break as the two-horse competitors on their first rides showed their strength in depth.
Kylie Roddy was all smiles after completing her test on Carden Earl Grey, a 17-year-old owned by the Earl Grey Tea Party Goers. Kylie scored a five-star personal best of 29.9 to go into the top 10.
“There was a weird thing that happened when I went in and halted, he then kicked the board by the judge, so I don’t know what happened there, but he stayed with me. I was really happy his concentration was on me and not on the great big atmosphere.”
Watch Kylie reflect on her test
Twenty-five-year-old Greta Mason was another to score a personal best, riding Cooley for Sure. They clocked 31.6 to go into the top 15 at this stage.
“Dressage has always been his weakest phase, and we improved on his first five-star test,” said Greta. “Low 30s is what we were aiming for realistically; he pulled out what we’d hoped. He got a bit nervous when I went in and passed the judges’ box, so I was pleased he settled in the test.”
How to watch Badminton Horse Trials
If you are interested in watching Badminton Horse Trials live from the comfort of your home, wherever you are in the world, you will need to subscribe to Badminton TV. To sign up, visit watch.badminton-horse.tv – click the “Sign Up” link in the top right corner of your screen, then follow the instructions. An annual subscription to Badminton TV costs £19.99 and gives you 365 days of access to all of the content in the Badminton TV library, the ability to watch the action live, and the option to replay all of this year’s action later.
You may also like to read…
Keep up to date with all of the breaking news, behind the scenes insight and the best of the action throughout Badminton Horse Trials with no limit on how much you can read from as little as £1 per week with a Horse & Hound unlimited website subscription. Sign up now. Plus enjoy our full 22-page magazine report on Badminton, including in-depth analysis and exclusive comments from Nick Burton and Mark Phillips, in Horse & Hound magazine (on sale 11 May).