Collett leads the British charge at Badminton

Friday, 06 May 2022

Day two’s dressage certainly lived up to its billing at the Badminton Horse Trials, presented by Mars Equestrian with a new name atop the leaderboard in the shape of Laura Collett with her Tokyo team gold medallist London 52, who she co-owns with Keith Scott and Karen Bartlett. She and ‘Dan’ oozed class as they impressed the judging panel, with each of the three dishing out a ten for different movements.

Their final score of 21.0 penalties, a new five-star personal best, gives them an advantage of 2.4 over second-placed combination, Tom McEwen and Toledo de Kerser, owned by Ali McEwen, Fred & Penny Barker and Jane Inns, who lead the field after day one.

Kitty King completes an all-British dressage top three with Diana Bown, Sally Eyre, Sally Lloyd-Baker and Samantha Wilson’s Vendredi Biats with 24.8.

“It’s not often you go into the arena at Badminton and have a lovely time, but that horse is just so nice to ride and he was so with me. This is what we all dream of, and he was so with me. I just knew anything was going to be my mistake, so I’m so, so proud of him,” beamed Laura.

She continued; “There were a couple [of mistakes] out there. The first centre line, he tried to stop at X instead of I, so about halfway down. There were a few little bits, but there always are a few bits until you get a zero.

“He was great. We’ve completely changed what we do. I hold my hands up, I messed up in Tokyo and you can only learn from your mistakes. I thought, coming here, I had to be brave and stick to my plan – I haven’t gone once into a dressage arena this week, a lot of hacking and polework, just keeping his brain ticking. He knows all the moves, it’s just about keeping him with me, and he was with me there.

“The little blips were my mistakes, not riding positively enough into the first halt, it wasn’t his fault and he was totally on side and a joy to ride.

“You get an idea of how your horse is reacting to the atmosphere and the crowds, it’s so quiet outside and to go in there, you just suddenly feel it, it just hits you and he didn’t react to the crowds clapping or anything – he likes showing off. He’s a funny horse to ride at one-days now because he just thinks it’s completely pointless, he just bobbles around, ears back and very grumpy because he’s wondering where all the crowds and the nice arenas are. I think he was pretty happy to be in one today.

“Amazing to be back at Badminton, I couldn’t believe the crowds on Wednesday. There’s such a buzz about the place – you kind of forget we haven’t had it for two years because it just feels like normal, and I’m very lucky to be here. I’m very conscious of the pressure but, at the end of the day, I said after Tokyo that I wouldn’t read into things and that this horse owes me nothing – he won me my first five-star and he won me an Olympic gold medal, so everything now is about enjoying a phenomenal horse.”

The Union flag occupies 12 of the top 15 positions and notable Brits to enter the top placings in today’s dressage include Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class, who he rides for Karyn Shuter, Angela Hislop and Val Ryan, who lie eighth on 25.9.The Shropshire rider is also sixth with his first ride, Swallow Springs. Reigning World Champion Ros Canter pulled out a grand test with her Badminton debutant and ‘Covid baby’ Lordships Graffalo, owned by Michele Saul to score 26.0, while Pippa Funnell crafted a 26.1 with Jonathan and Jane Clarke’s Burghey winner MGH Grafton Street. William Fox-Pitt piloted his second ride in the midst of the Friday afternoon final bunch and squeezed into 15th with Jennifer Downling and his own Little Fire on 27.3.

The best visitor from overseas remains USA duo Mai Baum ridden by Tamra Smith for owners Alexandra & Ellen Ahem and Eric Markell.

Full results are available here.

Cross coutnry morning looms large

The riders all agree that course designer Eric Winter has set world class test which will require bold riding, quick thinking, bravery…and a little bit of luck. Our pathfinders will be Kirsty Chabert for Great Britain and Classic VI at 11.30. Full start times are here.

Remember – entry is by pre-purchased tickets and car pass tomorrow morning and all tickets are sold out – a crowd of over 110,000 is expected. If you’re not journeying to the spiritual home of eventing tomorrow, the only way you can watch the action is via a subscription to Badminton TV, just £19.99 for 12 months of viewing – and you can watch again and again, plus some amazing historical footage and interviews.