Piggy and Trevor Dickens’ Vanir Kamira, the 2019 Badminton Horse Trials winner, put in the second clear inside the time to sit 2.4 faults ahead of long-time leaders Gemma Tattersall and Chilli Knight.
“She’s just heart and guts, she puts her snout down on floor and off she goes,” said Piggy, who was second after dressage on a mark of 25.5 and adds nothing to that score.
“It takes a lot of years of trust, but that’s just how she goes. It feel like I’m always sat right at the back of her, she sees flags and is like, ‘I’ve got that’. If I try to say balance or do something that feels nicer for me, she’s like, ‘Absolutely not’.”
Piggy said the terrain was the toughest on any five-star course she has ridden, but that the layout of the track is “fabulous” in terms of having kind fences on the last loop to let the horses get home.
She added of her round: “When you want to pick up, she can go – you’re lucky when you’ve got an old horse that’s been five-star fit so many times, she expects the distance, and she’s fast.”
Ros Canter has moved into third place with Pencos Crown Jewel, who is at her first five-star and had 7.6 time-faults to add to her seventh-placed dressage score of 27.1. She made a circle after the steep bank down into the arena before the Topspec Brush Corners at fence 9ab as she had some issues with her steering.
Ros said: “The time is very gettable – I went a long route and I really set her up even for some of the tables, whereas on a more experienced horse or one with a little bit more fine-tuning on the steering, which she doesn’t have, the time is definitely there to get.
“But I really couldn’t fault her, she was like a hare in between the fences and she galloped up that last hill like it was the first. There’s no doubting her stamina or ability.
“The hills are nothing to her – I’ve had her since she was a three-year-old so she’s grown up on the Lincolnshire wolds. It’s just the steering with her, she just runs a bit off adrenalin and doesn’t quite listen, so I wasted time setting up for some of the turning lines.”
Five-star first-timer Will Rawlin, third after dressage, felt that VIP Vinnie wasn’t quite right early on course, so he pulled up, dismounted and led him off course.
Izzy Taylor’s challenge has also come to an end as she had a run-out at the triple brush arrowhead after the drop at the Clinton Devon Estates Cliffhanger (fence 14c) and then retired Fonbherna Lancer, fourth after dressage, further round.
The dressage leader, Pippa Funnell on Billy Walk On, is on the Bicton Horse Trials cross-country course at 3.34pm.
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