But there is all to play for, and the very strong feeling that the dressage will prove to be far from the most influential phase. Eric Winter’s testing cross-country track has undergone several alterations as a result of the wet weather. Several riders have reassessed their approach to it based on the conditions, and there is a distinct element of uncertainty around how it might ride.
Watch Ros talk through her Badminton dressage test with Lordships Graffalo
“Who knows what’s going to happen tomorrow? We’re going to just have to take every jump as it comes,” said Ros. “Right now, none of us really know how it’s going to ride.”
What’s more, the Badminton Horse Trials dressage leaderboard is exceptionally close, with less than five penalties separating Ros in first and Harry Meade (Tenareze) in 10th. The top 22 riders are all sitting on scores of under 30, meaning they are well-placed to make a strong bid for the title in the next phases. Just 10 combinations scored over 35.
Big names jostle for top spots
Today, the second day of Badminton Horse Trials dressage, started in exciting fashion, as Tom McEwen and Toledo De Kerser swiftly replaced yesterday’s long-time leader, Oliver Townend on Swallow Springs, at the top of the scoreboard. But Tom’s lead was short-lived as Kitty King (Vendredi Biats) took over just minutes later.
With all Badminton action taking a three-hour hiatus from mid-morning to allow The King’s coronation to claim centre stage, it wasn’t until the afternoon that the 2022 Badminton runner-up Ros Canter took to the arena with Lordships Graffalo. The pair pulled off a stellar performance, moving into a well-deserved lead, with Ros describing “Walter” as “the ultimate event horse”.
“The arena held up well. Walter handled it as well as any and I was really delighted with him. He’s been steadily improving all winter and it’s exciting to be able to show him at his best,” said Ros, who also has her other ride, Pencos Crown Jewel (17th), with whom she will tackle the cross-country first tomorrow.
Completing the top 10 going into cross-country day are Gemma Stevens, (fourth on Jalapeno), Oliver Townend (sixth on Ballaghmor Class), Laura Collett (seventh on Dacapo), William Fox-Pitt (eighth with Grafennacht), Tim Price (ninth on Coup De Coeur Dudevin, below) and Harry Meade (10th on Tenareze).
As the final rider into the dressage arena, Tim had arguably the worst ground conditions of everyone, but was still able to produce what he described as the best quality test this horse has done. And he isn’t too fazed about his late draw for the cross-country either.
“He’s a great scrambler. I’m looking forward to him in those conditions. I’m not going to say it’s all going to go to plan, but he doesn’t really pay attention to the ground,” Tim said.
Pippa Funnell also took to the ring late in the day on her second ride, Billy Walk On, slotting into equal 11th with Tim on his other horse, Vitali.
Watch Pippa talk about her test with Billy Walk On
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