It was no surprise to see Ruth Edge (GBR) at the head of affairs after the first day of Dressage at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, the second leg of the HSBC FEI Classics™.
Edge, a three-times British National Champion, is not only greatly respected on the dressage circuit in Britain, where she regularly gives the “pure” dressage riders a run for their money, but last winter she upped her game by training in the Netherlands with the former team trainer there, Bert Rutten.
Her mount, the 16-year-old Two Thyme, which has not done a three-day event since winning Luhmühlen (GER) in 2007, looked the outstanding horse in the warm-up, and the Ground Jury – Nick Burton (GBR), Christoph Hess (GER) and Nicoli Fife (NZL) were unanimous in placing Edge first on 39.0 penalties, the only sub-40 mark so far.
“He’s done very well in his preparation – I swim a lot of my advanced horses - and he seems to be on good form,” said Edge, who joked that she wasn’t planning any “swimming” in Badminton’s famous Lake during the Cross-Country day on Sunday. “I was very pleased with him in the Dressage. He knows what to do here. He was a little tense in the walk, but otherwise there was a lot to like.”
Kitty King (GBR), the last rider of the day, slipped into second place with a beautifully presented test on the New Zealand-bred Boondoggle. “He was super today, he’s much more confident now in his flatwork. I’ve been training with Spencer Wilton since December and he tuned us up really well.”
And the evergreen Mary King, for whom it is a 19th appearance at Badminton, completed the British one-two-three with the majestic Imperial Cavalier, which had looked all over the winner when suffering a frustrating fall at the penultimate Cross Country fence back in 2008.
“I’m as excited now as I was when I first rode here in 1986,” said King, who rides her home-bred mare Kings Temptress tomorrow. “The horse was quite tense going into the main arena and the loudspeakers crackled. Then Nick Burton (Ground Jury President) leant out of his box and said ‘Sorry Mary, the bell’s broken!’ But I can’t claim any excuses. As I came out of the arena, I felt that I had made quite a few mistakes and I’m surprised I’m still as high up as I am.”
Simone Dietermann (GER) had a dream start to her first Badminton and is now in 4th place on Free Easy NRW, a 13-year-old Westphalian which finished 2nd at Boekelo (NED) last year.
“My first impression of Badminton is, well, wow!” said the 28-year-old from Munster, who, unlike most competitors, has a full-time job as an accountant. “It’s beautiful here. It’s such a big event, and the going is so good.”
The last rider to win Badminton at their first attempt was Mark Todd (NZL), 30 years ago on Southern Comfort. This time, he was making his first appearance at the British fixture for 10 years, having emerged after an eight-year retirement from the sport in 2008. He is lying in 23rd on 55.8 penalties and he certainly earned the loudest cheers from the appreciative crowd.
“It feels as if I’ve never been away,” said the 54-year-old New Zealander. “It’s all a new challenge and I want to see if I can get back to the top of top level. I’m really enjoying it.”
His mount, the Irish Sport Horse NZB Grass Valley, has only done one CCI*** - Boekelo – and is relatively inexperienced. “I’ll have to play the Cross Country by ear and see how he’s coping,” said Todd.
- 83 starters
- 11 nations: Australia, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa
- 3 former winners in the field: Mark Todd (1980, 1994, 1996), Mary King (1992, 2000), William Fox-Pitt (2004)
- 1 Ruth Edge/Two Thyme (GBR) 39.0
- 2 Kitty King/Boondoggle (GBR) 44.3
- 3 Mary King/Imperial Cavalier (GBR) 44.8
- 4 Simone Dietermann/Free Easy NRW (GER) 45.0
- 5 William Fox-Pitt/Macchiato (GBR) 45.8
- 6 Clayton Fredericks/The Frog (AUS) 46.5
- 7 Carolyne Ryan-Bell/Rathmoyle King (GBR) 47.0
- 8 = Karin Donckers/SS Jett (BEL) 47.7
- 7= Paul Tapner/Stormhill Michael (AUS) 47.7
- 10 Daisy Berkeley/Spring Along (GBR) 48.0
Follow the competition on www.badminton-horse.co.uk
HSBC FEI Classics™ Standings (updated after 1 of 5 events)
1 William Fox-Pitt (GBR) 15 points
2 Phillip Dutton (USA) 12
3 Becky Holder (USA) 10
4 Boyd Martin (USA) 8
5 Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch (CAN) 6
6 Karen O’Connor (USA) 4
7 Selina O’Hanlon/Colombo (CAN) 3
8 Hawley Bennett-Awad (CAN) 2
9 Michelle Mueller (CAN) 1
HSBC FEI Classics™ Calendar of Events in 2010
1. 21-25 April - Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event (USA)
2. 30 April - 03 May - Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (GBR)
3. 17-20 June - Luhmühlen CCI**** presented by E.ON Avacon (GER)
4. 2-5 September - Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (GBR)
5. 4-7 November- Les Etoiles de Pau (FRA)
HSBC will contribute US$ 1million to the series over the next three years. Prize-money is awarded, as follows, to the top five riders on the leaderboard after the fifth and final event:
WINNERS OF THE 2009 SEASON
1. Oliver Townend (GBR) - US$ 150,000 (Series champion);
2. Dirk Schrade (GER) - US$ 75,000;
3. Andreas Dibowski - (GER) US$ 50,000;
4. William Fox-Pitt (GBR) - US$ 33,000;
5. Sam Griffiths (AUS) - US$ 25,000
Listen to the interview with Ruth after