Ruth Edge Leads On Day One At Badminton
by Kathy Culpin
The Mitsubishi Badminton Horse Trials is off to an exciting start, the first group into the arena included former British winners Mary King, William Fox Pitt.
At the end of the first day of dressage Ruth Edge currently holds the lead on a score of 39 with the experienced Two Thyme having ridden just after the first break this morning. Two Thyme did well at Gatcombe last year winning the British Open and his preparation has gone well, running twice so far this year. Ruth chalks this horse's success up to regular swimming and thinks the course going is perfect and will suit Two Thyme very well. At the Press Conference this evening Ruth stated that the time will be possible if the weather holds.
Kitty King and Boongdoggle are currently in second place with a score of 44.3 who, as the last rider of the day woke everyone up with an excellent test that really showed the horse's paces and Kitty's abilities. Kitty states that the horse is getting better and better in the dressage phase and finding the work easier and is gaining confidence all the time. Kitty thinks that the riders need to 'stay really on the ball' and will be having another good look at the course tomorrow.
Hot on Ruth's and Kitty's heels is the immensely popular Mary King who at the end of the first day is in 3rd place on Imperial Cavalier with the score of 44.8. Mary has been round Badminton 19 times and says she's as excited now as she was 19 years ago. Her dressage test by her own admission was tense and 'Archie' was very excited due to crackle and banging of the loud speakers. Mary claims to being quite suprised at her placing given her horse's excitement. Mary thinks the Colt Pond is the difficult one, angled and with a big hedge coming out. Easy to make mistakes and firmly in her mind is her fall at the second to last fence two years ago, so she'll be leaning back over that fence.
Andrew Nicholson, the rider who has been round the famous course a record 27 times is the bookies favourite to win at an 8-1 offering on his second ride, Avebury.
Eighty three riders go forward to contest the title, twelve riders have two horses and there are sixteen first timers including Alex Hua Tian riding for China who at the age of 20 is one of the youngest competitors here. Alex rode a polished, fluid soft test with no obvious sign of first time nerves. Alex is one of the first time riders here who has two horses to compete. All riders will ride their second horses on Saturday, dressage this year is on Friday and Saturday rather than the usual Thursday/Friday.
Rain overnight softened the ground and the weather forecast is overcast with showers with some sunshine.
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