It’s early days, but third-to-go Oliver Townend and Swallow Springs, who is owned by Paul and Diana Ridgeon, still sit at the top of the leaderboard on 23.1 on day one of Badminton Horse Trials dressage, presented by Mars Equestrian (5 May).
The Burghley runners-up, Tom Jackson and Capels Hollow Drift, who is owned by Sarah Webb, Patricia Davenport and Milly Simmie, got their Badminton campaign off to an excellent start with 28. This puts them third at this stage behind Oliver and Tim Price (Vitali). The flying changes let them down, but nines for the collected canter lifted the score to their personal best at the level.
“I know there were a couple of little mistakes in there, but on the whole, I felt he was going better than he’s ever gone, I couldn’t ask much more,” said Tom, who has been working on the horse’s cadence over the winter. “He’s improving all the time. The changes on one rein have been difficult but they were clean this time, just a little bit exuberant in places. He’s a lovely mover and very rideable, just not the biggest and flashiest mover, but he felt very smart in there today. He’s still a relatively young horse so hopefully we can keep edging closer.
“With the ground conditions, I hope that going early on Sunday is going to be an advantage for me.”
Watch Tom reflect on his test
Harry Meade conjured a huge personal best out of the Irish Sport Horse Away Cruising, scoring 29 after the first coffee break. The long-striding grey looked relaxed and focused, with his exceptional canter drawing plenty of eights from the judges. He finished with a nine for his halt.
“He’s a lovely Irish old-fashioned type, not a warmblood dressage horse, and he produced a really solid test; he didn’t miss a beat,” said Harry of the 16-year-old, who is owned by Charlotte Opperman and Janie Dear. “Last year I kicked myself because I wanted him fresh and shortened the warm-up and he was too fresh. This year, I worked him for longer, and possibly he lost a fraction of his sparkle, but it was a good clear round of a test. Job done and on to the next phase.”
Watch Harry speak about his test with Away Cruising
Greys monopolise the Badminton Horse Trials dressage
It was a good morning for greys, who seem to have dominated the morning’s proceedings. Izzy Taylor and the Cevin Z-sired Happy Days produced some eye-catching work, but will just be ruing their flying changes. They were on target for a mark of around 25, but scores of twos for the changes dragged the mark down to 29.2, just behind Harry.
“It’s only his fourth three-day, so to come here and keep his brain as well as he did I was so pleased,” said Izzy of the 11-year-old owned by Caroline Wilson, Lavinia Taylor and Alex Colquhorn. “He’s a lovely horse who tries so hard, a little bit too hard as he demonstrated with his second changes, but I’m delighted with him. He’s got loads more to come so to score that without doing a clear round is very exciting.
“It’s definitely not going to be a dressage competition, there has been a lot of rain and we’ll be riding the horses we’re sat on at that minute.”
Kirsty Chabert also squeaked under the 30 barrier on Opposition Loire, who is making her five-star debut. Her canter work looked particularly strong.
“I’m chuffed to bits as it’s her first time in any sort of atmosphere like this,” said Kirsty, who was competing another horse in Kentucky last weekend.
“It will mean the cross-country morning will be familiar, which is better for the nerves than if you’ve just popped round some open intermediates. But we’ll take the cross-country step by step.”
Watch Kirsty talk after her test
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