The Olympic gold medallist was second into the arena on Tom Joule’s 16-year-old experienced MHS King Joules in the five-star event and scored 28.1.
The pair’s otherwise consistent marks only dropped significantly when they had a mistake in the medium canter across the diagonal and Oliver had a big grin on his face as he finished his test. Highlights included a nine from Andrew Bennie at C for the mid-test halt.
“I’m happy with him – there’s no pressure on him, he’s an old horse now and we all know that he’s very talented but we also all know he’s very tricky in all three phases, but we respect him and love him for who he is and work with him every day with the quirks,” said Oliver.
Speaking about the spook in the canter diagonal, Oliver added: “That’s him and he’s getting more like that as he gets older, unfortunately, which is probably not the right way to go. But last time out at the level he was sixth in Pau  so while he’s sound, healthy and definitely wanting to do it – perhaps too much sometimes – we’ll keep going with him.”
Pathfinder David Doel holds second on 32.2 with Gillian Jonas’s Galileo Nieuwmoed, who had a late first flying change but otherwise produced steady work. David made an error of course on the final centre line, halting straight from canter rather than showing the required trot first, and had to repeat this movement.
Pippa Funnell was due to be the fourth rider into the arena this morning, on Majas Hope, but will now perform just before the lunch break as the horse needs the attention of the farrier.
The Bicton Horse Trials dressage all takes place today ahead of tomorrow’s cross-country phase, over a course designed by Mark Phillips, and Sunday’s showjumping.
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