British rising stars led the way on the second day of dressage at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.
The youngest rider in the field, 20-year-old Emily King, slotted into second place on the leaderboard with Brookleigh on her Badminton debut. She rode a really polished test in excellent balance to make the most of the 14-year-old bay gelding’s naturally good paces.
Emily said: “I’m over the moon with Brook. He warmed up very well and took that work into the arena. I knew he was capable of doing a good test, but he’s never been in an atmosphere like that. He kept his cool and stayed very rideable so I’m really pleased.”
She sits 2.4 penalties behind Germany’s Michael Jung and 1.4 penalties ahead of Andreas Ostholt going into cross-country day. Francis Whittington has dropped just one place to fourth after sitting third overnight with Hasty Imp.
Australia’s Christopher Burton has taken fifth with 11-year-old Nobilis 18, while two Brits, 24-year-old Dani Evans (Raphael II) and Izzy Taylor (Allercombe Ellie), now share equal sixth on 40.4.
Raphael II (pictured above) produced some excellent work and looked to have potential to go on to achieve even higher scores in the future, while Izzy nailed a personal best score with 13-year-old Allercombe Ellie.
Oliver Townend sits eighth with Black Tie, but admitted that tomorrow’s cross-country will be “an unknown quantity” for his horse. Black Tie prefers to gallop on top of the ground, and although the ground has improved considerably, there is a risk it will deteriorate by the time Oliver rides his second round. He will be first out on to the course with Armada, who currently sits in equal 24th.
H&H Live commentator Lucy McCarthy (née Wiegersma) said: “A few Brits have thrown their hat into the ring as far as Olympic selection is concerned, who might not have been on the selectors’ radar. Francis is one, while Dani produced a very good test and it looks like there is a lot more to come from her horse.
“Izzy produced one of the best tests I’ve seen from Allercombe Ellie, while Emily has produced some great tests, but to do that at Badminton on your debut is really very exciting. Let’s see how they go tomorrow.”
Zara Tindall did a good job to contain a rather bright High Kingdom to score 48pen for 36th. Laura Collett is one place behind her after Grand Manoeuvre had rather too many errors between moments of top quality work.
Alice Dunsdon is one step closer to achieving her ambition of completing all six four-stars in the world with one horse, Fernhill Present. They scored 55.5.
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s cross-country, course-designer Giuseppe Della Chiesa admitted that he does suffer with a few butterflies the night before his courses are jumped.
“As a course-designer you don’t have one or two horses to ride, you have some 70 horses to ride on cross-country day!” he joked.
“The ground has dried up very well, although you have to be careful in drying going as it’s likely to be on top of the grounds in some areas, while other areas could become a bit holding during the day.
“The feedback I’ve had from the riders is positive: that the course is clear, it’s there in front of you, it needs to be respected but it’s there to be jumped.
“I think it will be interesting to see how many make the time as it is slightly longer than normal. A longer time can go two ways: either it could be easier because it’s less intensive with fences, but if the going is a bit more holding then the galloping will be harder and a longer course will be more difficult.”
Follow tomorrow’s cross-country action wherever you are on your smartphone, tablet or computer with H&H Live, plus don’t miss our full H&H magazine next week (12 May issue) for our full 24-page report including columns from Carl Hester, William Fox-Pitt and Mark Phillips.