It’s been an odd day for weather here at Badminton. The early morning riders were subjected to intermittent driving rain and strong winds that kept the crowds at bay. The sun did come out momentarily, once for Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master and again for Clark Montgomery and Universe.
Rebecca and Rupert put in a brilliant test, earning 51.3 penalty points and going into joint 32th place overnight. Clark and Buzz also put in a great test, although some tenseness and a blip in the halts kept him from the top marks.
We felt a bit bad for first timer, 21 year old Tom McEwen who entered the ring into a sudden torrential downpour. Nevertheless his test also put him into 32th place with Rebecca and Jarozlav Hatla. Another first timer, Astier Nicolas, a former Hartpury student and friend, rode a fantastic test earning him 49.3 penalty points. Very impressive and we hope to catch up with him tomorrow.
The most notable Badminton first timer today was Michael Jung. Hardly a rookie, the World and Olympic Champion whose two horses, La Biosthetique Sam and Leopin FST bookend the top 6 places. His test on Sam was really forward and fluid and the judges rewarded him well.
He had a big grin upon leaving the dressage ring, not because he knew he’d clinched the top spot but because his horse “gave him a great feeling“. When asked about the cross country course in the press conference at the end of the day, he deemed it a “wonderful galloping course“.
We sure hope he can gallop fast as Rolex Grand Slam contenders William Fox-Pitt and Andrew Nicholson, in 5th and 6th place respectively, are hot on his tail. Jung didn’t seem to mind, saying “the other boys have more pressure, because it’s my first time”.
Will it be first time lucky, or will we see a Grand Slam win? One thing’s for certain, Hugh Thomas, the course designer, has set a task that will definitely sort the wheat from the chaff.
Full dressage results here
*** BTW – We will be holding a Live Chat tomorrow on HJU starting at 5:55AM Eastern as we watch the Badminton cross-country action on FEI TV. To watch the live stream, you have to subscribe to FEI TV. It will not be available in the UK.
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