New Zealand riders put in a great effort in fabulous, sunny conditions to be well placed after the first day of dressage at Badminton.
Clarke Johnstone is the best-placed on a score of 40.8, and is currently fourth. Balmoral Sensation did some very good canter work and impressed the judges with his calmness and consistency. Commentator Carl Hester suggested that ‘Ritchie’ could have been a little more forward in his movement, with a bit more impulsion, but he, too, liked the horse.
Jesse Campbell and Kaapachino impressed many at their first appearance on the hallowed turf of Badminton and are in fifth place on 41.1. The pair did a great job and a lovely test – and being the next competitor after Michael Jung is always daunting.
“There were a few marks still left out there in the arena” Jesse said afterwards. “But yeah, nah, I was really pleased with him.” Still got those New Zealand sayings Jesse!
Jock Paget and Clifton Lush made commentators and spectators ooh and aah with their sequenced changes outside the arena just before starting their test, and looked really good, although a couple of mistakes such as a poor strike-off to canter meant they lost valuable marks. Afterwards, Jock said that he was disappointed, and it was “my bad” as he knows the test could have been better.
“I was very happy with my horse. I didn’t set him up maybe as good as I could have for a couple of movements; made a couple of silly mistakes which proved very expensive.”
As for tomorrow’s cross-country, Jock was looking forward to it. “The course is great, the ground is drying out well.”
However, the score of 45.2 is still very competitive, even if it isn’t as good as Jock thinks it could have been. They are in ninth place after the first day.
Two Germans are in first and second place and so far are the only ones to score under 40. Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam delivered the test we have all come to expect. Transitions bang on the mark, relaxed and just what the judges were looking for. The score of 34.4 puts Michael into a great position to secure the Rolex Grand Slam, but there is plenty still to come: this is Badminton.
“He was really good today. Yesterday and the day before he was really nervous because I could not have enough work with him. Normally I would like to gallop him a bit more but the ground was very, very soft so I cannot do that.”
So Es It and Andreas Ostholt are in second place on 38.2. The last to go for the day, Frances Whittington and Hasty Imp did the test of their career so far, to score a 40 and be in third place.
Winner in 2014, Sam Griffiths on Paulank Brockagh, had the early lead on 42.2, and finished the day in sixth place, right behind Clarke and Jesse.
The score for Blyth Tait and Bear Necessity was 48.5, which puts them in 17th place. “I’m happy,” said Blyth. “He’s green for this level and he’s not naturally adept at this phase but he really tried. He stayed calm, he stayed responsive. I made some errors, no doubt about that, that I can definitely polish up on.”
Megan Heath and St Daniel scored 54.3 and are in 32nd place. Dan Jocelyn’s Beaucatcher showed his inexperience at this level, scoring 57 for 36th place.
Sir Mark Todd and Leonidas are second out tomorrow morning in the second day of dressage. Jonelle is late in the morning on Classic Moet, with Tim Price on Ringwood Sky Boy and Lucy Jackson on Bosun after lunch.