‘He was phenomenal’: Tom McEwen takes an early lead at Badminton with personal best dressage score

  • Tom McEwen was the first of the British Tokyo Olympic team into the arena in the Badminton Horse Trials dressage, at the event presented by Mars Equestrian. Riding his gold medal-winning partner, 15-year-old Toledo De Kerser, he produced a personal best at this level to score 23.4 and take a commanding lead at this stage.

    Local rider Tom said: “He was just phenomenal throughout, lovely half-passes, really smooth in his body and in a great rhythm. I can’t ask for any more. His changes could be more expressive, but they were mistake-free.”

    From the outset, Tom was scoring nines for the early trotwork on this Diamant De Semilly-sired gelding, who is owned by Fred and Penny Barker, Jane Inns and Tom’s mother Ali. The walk is the horse’s weakest pace and his marks duly dropped from regular eights to sixes. But the horse seemed to breathe a sigh of relief as he moved exuberantly into the canter section, and he scored a couple of nines for his second flying change. Tom really went for it in the extended canter and was rewarded with a 10 from the judge at H, Finland’s Seppo Laine.

    Tom added: “I think the score could have been even better – he got a low mark at B compared to the others. But they are rewarding good work with the marks early on, which is fantastic.”

    Kirsty Chabert was the pathfinder aboard the 13-year-old mare Classic VI and scored 32.8 in the early morning sunshine. Kirsty did well to keep the mare calm after she trod on the boards in the rein-back. This is around about Kirsty’s average score over her last six runs, giving an early indication of how the judges are marking.

    “She was incredibly rideable in the ring apart from spooking at the flowers,” said Kirsty. “She’s a darling, but very complicated. She does get quite nervous, and it’s all the external factors you can’t train at home. I was nervous about being the only horse in the ring, but she came up this morning and went, ‘I’m here to do my work.’”

    Tom’s test marked the beginning of a golden hour for eventing fans at this very early stage of the Badminton Horse Trials dressage, as he is followed by William Fox-Pitt (Oratorio), Nicola Wilson on her European champion JL Dublin, Ros Canter on the brilliant Allstar B, Oliver Townend (Swallow Springs) and Pippa Funnell (Billy Walk On).

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