Rosalind Canter, the penultimate rider into the arena at the end of the first day of dressage at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, put in a polished, personal best performance to leap into the lead with her partner of six years, Allstar B.
The combination, who finished fifth here last year, scored 23.9 – more than 76%. They earned several 9s, including for Canter's riding.
“He’s very consistent in this phase and really laps up the atmosphere,” said Canter, who was part of the gold medal-winning team at last year’s senior European Championships. “He has the most amazing mind and he allows me to ride him in a way that creates a lovely picture for people to look at. I work very closely with Ian Woodhead, who trains me, and two-and-a-half weeks ago I sent him a video of me riding through the test on Allstar B and asked him what he thought. He told me it looked brilliant and that I shouldn’t practise it any more. It made me nervous not spending all last week going through the movements, but Ian was right; so long as I have Allstar B in the right uphill balance, the fancy bits look after themselves.”
The 2016 winners, Germany’s Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW, put in their usual workmanlike, mistake-free performance to score 24.7 and lie second.
“He doesn’t like soft ground for dressage, but he knows me, I know him and we both know what to do,” said Jung, who had already indicated before today that this would be Sam’s final Mitsubishi Motors Badminton.
Making it a truly international line-up, Japan’s Yoshiaki Oiwa and The Duke Of Cavan, the final pair to canter down the centreline this afternoon, scored 24.9 to fill third spot.
Oiwa, for whom this is a third Badminton, explained that his test preparation today had not quite gone to plan as The Duke Of Cavan was chased by a dog in the park at lunchtime.
“It upset him a bit and I thought he would be tense in the dressage, but he was actually very quiet,” said Oiwa, who credited his “scary German trainer,” Dirk Schrade, with whom he has been based for the last nine years, for his performance. “If I don’t do what Dirk tells me he gets upset,” smiled Oiwa, tongue in cheek.
Lauren Kieffer and Team Rebecca LLC's Veronica, are competing in their second Badminton and scored a 25.0 for fourth place. After her test, Kieffer said, "I'm tickled with her, she was just lovely in there. I think a lot of horses are just relieved to get off the footing in the warm-up and be on the fresh ground. They feel great when they get in there. I'm thrilled with her; she's such a professional."
The other North American representative, Selena O'Hanlon and Foxwood High from Canada, also earned a spot in the top 10 – they scored a 26.4 for eighth.
Lance Bradley, Vice Chairman at Mitsubishi Motors in the UK, commented at the end of today’s action: “You can feel the excitement in the air here at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, and there is much more to come. We have the very best international riders in the world competing here over the four days and we can’t wait to see who comes out on top!”
The dressage continues tomorrow with the second half of the field. First into the arena at 9:30 a.m. will be Izzy Taylor and Perfect Stranger. The two remaining U.S. riders do dressage tomorrow:Madeline Backus and P.S. Arianna at 2:16 p.m. (9:16 a.m. EST) and William Coleman and Obos O'Reilly at 2:48 p.m. (9:48 a.m. EST)
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