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It has been a really exciting couple of days of dressage here at Badminton. There have been some truly beautiful tests from the leading riders and some really unfortunate tests, like poor Cathal Daniels, whose chestnut mare threw all her toys out the pram to leave them on a score of 84.6 penalties in last place.
The quality of the tests on the whole was very nice. I really enjoyed watching the dressage, although due to the bitter cold wind, I couldn’t spend too long in the main arena watching without moving! However, I did watch all the ex-racehorses ringside as well as a few of my favourites such as Mark Todd. I have also spent most of this afternoon in the warmth of the media centre catching up on work while watching the tests and listening to Badminton Radio.
So who is leading the way after the dressage?
- Christopher Burton & Graf Liberty, 32.9
- Ingrid Klimke & Horseware Hale Bob Old, 36.4
- Jonty Evans & Cooley Rorkes Drift, 37.2
- Karin Donckers & Fletcha Van ‘T Verahof, 37.3
- Lauren Kieffer & Veronica, 38.0
- Andrew Nicholson & Nereo, 38.0
- Thibaut Vallette & Qing Du Briot En HN, 38.7
- Bettina Hoy & Designer 10, 39.2
- Michael Jung & La Biosthetigue Sam FBW, 40.0
- Astier Nicolas & Piaf De B’Neville, 41.5
Other notable riders:
- Mark Todd currently sits 13th and 14th for both his horses, just outside of the top 10.
- Alex Bragg, Badminton first timer and farrier sits in joint 18th
The ex-racehorse which impressed me the most in the dressage was Kaapachino. He was the first in and he just looked fantastic and the judges obviously agreed! For the first 11 movements in his test scored nearly all 7s and higher, with lots of 7.5s and 8s, even a few 8.5s and a 9! A really, really nice test! Unfortunately, something happened. I’m not sure whether it was a spook or a nap or just a blind panic, but he just lost it and it took a few circles in the corner for Jesse to regain control. This meant that this movement and the movement afterwards scored 1s and 2s before creeping back up to the 7s and 8s. Despite this moment, they still finished with a respectable score of 49.9 penalties, sitting in 40th place.
The other horse to really impress me was Donner. I think it was largely because I haven’t heard of the horse or the rider, but I didn’t expect much from the pair. Even when I was watching the test, it was a very nice test, but it wasn’t as spectacular as some of the other tests I had seen that morning. But they were very correct and very consistent and scored pretty much 7s throughout. In fact the only weak moments were the flying changes, but this seems to be the same for most of the horses during the competition. After her test it is no surprise that Donner leads the ex-racehorses heading into tomorrow’s cross country phase with a score of 47.2 penalties, sitting in joint 27th place.
Galley Light performed better than I remember him. I don’t remember him being very impressive last time I watched him, but today he was fantastic to watch. Yes he was a bit tense and there were some quite poor marks in their occasionally. But it really was a nice test and they should be very pleased with their score of 49.7 penalties, currently in second place for the RoR prize and joint 38th place overall.
Simply Priceless was another one who surprised me. Again, I don’t really know the horse or rider and they entered the ring looking pretty tense and wired (although beautifully shinny!) But they did a nice consistent test, placing them 4th out of the ex-racehorses with 53.2 penalties in 58th place.
Gemma Tattersall and Arctic Soul were a bit disappointing. I really like this horse and usually find him really exciting to watch. Okay, I don’t remember him ever being spectacular to watch in the dressage ring, but I remember him better than he was today. There wasn’t anything wrong with how he went today, he was just seemed very tense and didn’t seem to be totally with it today. They are only 8-9 penalties behind the leading ex-racehorse, so they are still in touch for the RoR prize, but they have a lot to prove tomorrow with 55.8 penalties in joint 67th place.
Finally we have Balladeer Durban Hills. I don’t have a huge amount to tell you about this test. It was a nice enough test, fairly consistent, one tiny mistake, respectable scores, but it just wasn’t special. They start tomorrow with 56.4 penalties in joint 71st place, which I think is very fair.
Tomorrows Cross Country
Tomorrow should be really exciting. I have been round and looked at all the fences and read all of Eric Winter’s (the course designers) comments about individual fences and combinations and I have to say it looks really challenging! And the riders are certainly giving the course a lot of respect.
Michael Jung said it’s “a very tough course” where you have to concentrate from the very first fence until the last. Bettina Hoy said it’s “a very clever course” and that the time will be really tight because most the fences are on an angle/off the gallop track, so you need to slow down to turn into them. Yesterday’s leader Thibaut Vallette’s horse has never competed at 4 star level before, so his horse might need more time setting up to new, more challenging fences. Thibaut also said that he’s not familiar with some of the style of combinations and fences, but he’s not worried about the course. Jonty Evans is looking forward to the cross country tomorrow and said his horse “genuinely loves the cross country.” And despite Ingrid Klimke being 3.5 penalties behind Christopher Burton this is “not a dressage competition” and that she will be planning on taking all the straight routes tomorrow!