On a blustery morning which, along with the atmosphere here, caused a lot of horses to show tension, to nobody’s surprise, the maestro Michael Jung conjured an absolutely beautiful test from Fischerrocana FST, totally correct and flowing. She may not be the world’s biggest, flashiest mover but she is harmonious and beautifully trained, and it shines through throughout her work. Their mark of 34.2 may prove very hard to beat. Plus of course she is an absolute jumping machine, which bodes very well for Saturday!
We had a long wait until another rider came even slightly close to that score, but just before lunch Rutherglen, in spite of being rather tense in his frame, scored 37.8 under Andrew Hoy, which was the only other test so far to end up in the 30s.
The diminutive Ros Canter, at her first 4*, piloted Caroline Moore’s Allstar B, also a 4* debutant, to 3rd place at this point in the proceedings, on 40.2, no mean feat considering the quality of the field.
Christopher Burton has Haruzak in 4th place, with Sam Griffiths and his 2014 Badminton winner Paulank Brockagh in 5th= with Paul Tapner and Vanir Kamira.
Other tests were marred by moments of extreme tension and argumentativeness, not least Francis Whittington’s Fernhill Highlight, who decided that a subtle half-halt at the end of the extended canter was a perfectly good reason to throw his toys out of the pram and attempt to spit the bits out of his mouth. Francis sat calmly and, a few seconds later, carried on as if nothing had happened, but was very amusing in the interview straight after his test, when he said that the highlight for him was the horse’s turnout!
The afternoon session starts at 2pm with American rider Lynn Symansky and Donner.