Emily King (GBR), the youngest rider at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (GBR), fourth leg of the FEI Classics™ 2015/2016, produced the performance of the day and is in second place behind first-day leaders Michael Jung (GER) and La Biosthetique Sam FBW at the end of the Dressage phase.
King scored 36.8 in a beautiful test on the 13-year-old Westphalian Brookleigh and is 2.4 penalties behind the Olympic champion, who retains pole position going into tomorrow’s Cross Country.
King’s riding was calm and mature and she and the hogged black gelding made an elegant picture. “I feel really proud,” said the 20-year-old.
“Brookleigh can do a good test, but he also has a tendency to get behind the leg or be lively, and it was great that this time he was exactly as good in the arena as he had been in the warm-up.
“I’m excited rather than nervous – at the moment! This will be his longest course but the good ground should suit him.”
King, whose mother, Mary, won Badminton in 1992 and 2000, finished fourth on her CCI4* debut at Pau (FRA) last year. She said: “I’ve been coming to Badminton every year since I was born, and this has always been the most important event to me.”
Andreas Ostholt (GER) and Francis Whittington (GBR), who performed their Dressage tests yesterday, are now in third and fourth places.
As anticipated, Christopher Burton (AUS) and the 11-year-old Nobilis 18, a horse originally produced by Jung, are among the leaders, in fifth place on 40.3. Their test had some lovely moments, with just the odd mistake coming in the half-pass and one flying change.
Although the absence of two of Britain’s best riders, former winners William Fox-Pitt (GBR) and Pippa Funnell (GBR), who was injured in a fall last weekend, the younger generation have certainly risen to the occasion.
ani Evans (Raphael ll) and Izzy Taylor (Allercombe Ellie) are in joint sixth place and Oliver Townend is eighth on the New Zealand Thoroughbred Black Tie, once a winning racehorse on the flat.
Several experienced riders are clustered together on scores in the mid-40s, just a little off the pace of the leaders, and some have expressed disappointment with their performances.
Bettina Hoy (GER), 14th on a score of 44.0 with Designer 10, lost marks for tension and a mistake in a flying change, and Sir Mark Todd (NZL), 17th on 44.8 penalties, reported Leonidas ll to have been “uptight”.
Laura Collett (GBR), 37th on 48.2, looked as if she would challenge the leaders with Grand Manoeuvre before mistakes crept in, and Zara Tindall (GBR), 36th on 48.0, who is chasing Olympic qualification on High Kingdom, said the 15-year-old was “a bit too jolly” after an 18-month absence from major competition.
Beautiful sunny weather has created a relaxed atmosphere at the famous British venue, but the atmosphere is expected to hot up tomorrow when riders tackle Giuseppe della Chiesa’s (ITA) challenging Cross Country course. Oliver Townend (GBR) will show the way on one of the world’s most experienced horses, Armada, at 11.30am (local time).
Photo: FEI/Sebastian Oakley