Well, when the riders said this year was not going to be a dressage competition, by golly were they right. The leader board has been turned upside down and back to front, but at the top it is very VERY tight. From the start it became apparent that only the very best would be completing the course clear. Pathfinder Lauren Kieffer on Landmark’s Monte Carlo was going well until the Mirage Pond where she incurred a refusal and then picked up a further refusal at the PHEV Corral where she retired. Second on course Mark Todd showed the course was jumpable, but Leonidas was sticky at times. They climbed into the lake, to the point anyone else on board may well have not stayed on. This caused him to reroute to the long route which he was initially awarded 20 penalties for, but were later removed. As the round progressed Leonidas grew in confidence and was a credit to Toddy’s classy riding.Next on course was equal best Brit after dressage, Alexander Bragg and Zagreb. For the majority of their round they looked very impressive making the KBIS Bridge look positively easy. There were a few sticky moments but Alex guided Zagreb superbly keeping him straight on the rare occasion he wavered to come home clear with only 12.4 time penalties to eventually sit 8th.
A period followed where out of 16 riders only 4 returned clear and a further two completed with penalties. Andrew Nicholson on his first ride Qwanza (15th overnight), Astier Nicolas with Piaf De B’Neville (13th), Dan Jocelyn and Dassett Cool Touch (31st) and British first timer Lydia Hannon on My Royal Touch (21st), all produced clears albeit all with time penalties as it became clear, that even with perfect fast going, the time would be incredibly hard to get inside. Astier did though loose a stirrup at the B element of the Hildon water pond, he couldn’t get to c, but was very quick thinking to reroute and avoid penalties. He then virtually lifted up and carried Piaf over the fence out of the Mirage pond. Piaf finished looking tired, so it will be interesting to see how he comes out in the morning.
Nicola Wilson and Annie Clover were casualties of this section, who having looked sticky at Savills Staircase and the Countryside Birch then incurred a stop and retired at The Lake. Willa Newton went wide of a flag at The Lake picking up 50 penalties under the new rules but then fell at the Hildon Water Pond incurring elimination. The Lake took a few scalps including Karin Donkers and Fletcha Van’t Verahof, Kathryn Robinson and Let It Bee, Danielle Dunn and Zocarla BLH, Paul Tapner and Bonza King Of Rouges (who effectively had a rotational fall), Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot C and Katherine Coleman and Longwood.
Austin O’Connor riding Kilpatrick Night, and Jean Teulere both posted clears, although Jean was incredibly close to be wide of the flag at the second Joules corner but although the flag ended up between Matelot Du Grand Val’s legs the shoulders did pass between the point of the flag. It was the first 4* first for Kilpatrick Night but he proved to be as clever as a cat through The Lake. They took a long but planned route at the Hildon Water pond. Austin was giving Kilpatrick Night confidence and he was clearly learning all the way round. Austin took another long route at the Joules Corners but without breaking their rhythm. It really was a brilliant confidence giving ride and despite tiring a little at quarry, Austin rode very tactfully. They were an impressive pair and certainly ones to watch.First timer Lissa Green picked up an unfortunate 20 penalties at the Outlander Bank when Malin Head Clover jumped too boldly up the step. She did make some excellent quick thinking decisions at both the PHEV Corral and Joules Corners.
Thursday’s overnight dressage leader Thibaut Vallette and Qing Du Briot ENE HN picked up 20 penalties after slipping jumping out of The Lake and being unable to recover before the final element. The horse showed it’s tremendous ability at other points in the course and despite picking up 37.2 time penalties this is clearly a combination for the future. 8th after dressage Bettina Hoy had a brief round, they sadly picked up a refusal at Savills Staircase and subsequently retired.It was now time for the master to show how it should be done. Michael Jung came out on course with La Biosthetique Sam and made the course look easy, it was simply a master class in riding and was a joy to watch, their partnership truly is exceptional. Not only was their round practically flawless they cut off every corner and in doing so were the first combination to come in inside the time. It is a round that could be talked about for years to come and is worth watching again and again. At this stage this put Michael into a lead 17 penalties ahead of his nearest rival Alexander Bragg.
Italian Pietro Sandei’s horse Mouse had a terrific round coming home clear, albeit with 46 time penalties. Pietro was committed all the way and rode beautifully at the quarry. We would happily take this horse home as it had its ears pricked all the way and always jumped out of his stride.
There were some exceptional climbs up the leader board with fast clears, one was Joseph Murphy aboard Sportsfield Othello whose 9.2 penalties lifted them from 75th after dressage to 18th after cross country on a score of 68. Another was Gemma Tattersall who was undoubtedly thankful to be sitting on the cross country master Acrtic Soul. They had the 5th fastest time of the day for only 4.4 time penalties to climb from 67th to 12th.Several other British riders started producing clear rounds, notably Ros Canter on Allstar B who moved up to 6th, she was an extremely talented and classy jockey today especially given that she’s tiny on a big horse. First timer Imogen Murray and Ivar Gooden rode a green round but never saw themselves in trouble. Their 26.4 time penalties still see them move up from 74th to 30th. Becky Woolven and Charlton Down Riverdance also produced a lovely clear round climbing up to 20th as did Paul Sims on Glengarnock who sit now in 27th.
Tom McEwan was originally awarded 20 penalties at the Hildon Water Pond but these were removed on appeal but their 21.6 time penalties only allowed them to climb from 18th to 16th. Another rider to appeal penalties was Sam Griffiths who was awarded 50 penalties for being wide of the C element of the Shogun Hollow, which he appealed but the ground jury upheld the decision. This was terribly unfortunate as otherwise they would have been in 6th.
Brazilian Marcio Carvalho Jorge landed round Lissy Mac Wayer’s ears in The Lake, but managed to reroute without penalty due to quick thinking. This horse is obviously very difficult in the mouth and argumentative in front of fences but he improved as he went on though never makes it easy for Marcio.
24 year old Badminton first timer Irish rider Dominic Furnell will be cursing breaking the frangible into the PHEV Corral on an otherwise clear round but his 52 time penalties left him out of the running. He must though be thrilled to have completed the course though.showed his skill throughout the course extended beyond his dressage abilities. He often looked free and forward but they were stylish and rather impressive and now sit in 10th place.
Irishman Jonty Evans looked like he was riding a clever little pony! They chipped in at log into lake, but was so so clever out. Cooley Rorkes Drift really covers ground and Jonty rides him in a beautiful rhythm. Jonty just got ahead of him over the log into water but got back into saddle for fence out. It was gutting when he pushed for a bit of a long one to the second Joules corner and the horse couldn’t do it. Jonty was clear to give the horse all the credit as he came over the line and despite the 20 penalties was clearly thrilled.Following Jonty round the course was Ingrid Klimke on Horseware Hale Bob OLD. Although they had a few iffy moments the horse never veered from it’s line and they crossed the finish line with 3.2 time penalties to edge only 0.4 penalties ahead of Michael Jung.
One of the rides of the day must go to young Irish rider Cathal Daniels. yesterday Rioghan Rua was so difficult in the dressage but today showed what she was made of as they sailed round the cross country course for a confident clear. She is clearly and out and out jumper and finished with only 6 time penalties.
As the day came to a close the last 10 rider proceeded to further shake up the leader board. Mark Todd on his second rider NZB Campino guided him round with his masterful expertise to pick up only 6.8 time penalties to rise to 6th. Lauren Keiffer had a much better ride with Veronica than her first ride, but picked up 29.2 time penalties so is one of few riders to go clear that have actually moved down the leader board.Dressage leader Chris Burton was looking great for the vast majority of his round with Graf Liberty, but Chris looked to have taken too much of a check coming out of the Hildon Water Pond and Graf Liberty ground to a halt infront of the final element. This really was so unfortunate as the rest of the round was excellent. Even with the 20 penalties they still sit within the top 20 in 19th. Tim Price had a near flawless round on Xavier Faer, he let it have its head all the way round, and balanced it beautifully resulting in a class round and in turn the fastest of the day, and only the second inside the time. This resulted in them rocketing up the leaderboard from 34th to 4th. The last 4 riders including Tim really were a masterclass. Oliver Townend followed on ODT Ghareeb. His determined riding got the horse round and a fast round leave them in 7th. Tina Cook rode her second ride Billy The Red with the skill you come to expect from her. It was a text book round and her experience shone throughout. They weren’t the fastest so the 16 time penalties were costly but they still sit in 14th. Last but not least it was the turn of Andrew Nicholson for the second time of the day, this time with the ever experienced Nereo. They stormed round barely looking troubled, they could have nipped into the lead but 2.4 time penalties put them in 3rd just 0.8 behind Ingrid. Andrew did though afterwards explain Nereo had lost a stud infront and 2 from one hind shoe which probably cost him one of his time penalties.
Of the 81 starters only 49 completed the cross country and only 32 clear and two inside the time. With only 0.8 penalties separating the top 3 there is nothing to separate them, but there is nearly 2 poles then to 4th placed Tim. The showjumping tomorrow will be thrilling and we can’t wait!
Full results can be found on the Badminton website including detailed fence analysis.