Karin Donckers and Fletcha van’t Verahof sailed straight into the lead this morning on a personal best of 37.3 at Badminton Horse Trials. It’s the first time Karin and the 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood (Vigo D’arsouilles X Southern Queen xx) have ever scored in the 30s at this level, and their performance was just a taste of what we have to look forward to in this afternoon’s dressage finale.
Ingrid Klimke and Horseware Hale Bob OLD, who EquiRatings is predicting will take the lead, are in the next group, and other names to watch include Jonty Evans and Cooley Rorkes Drift, Mark Todd and NZB Campino, Andrew Hoy and Rutherglen, Chris Burton and Graf Liberty, Andrew Nicholson and Nereo — and Lauren Kieffer and Veronica, of course!
Aside from Karin Donckers’ test, the other top spots on the leaderboard remain unchanged from yesterday thus far. Thibaut Vallette and Qing du Briot ENE HN now sit in second on 38.7, with Bettina Hoy and Designer 10 in third on 39.2. Defending winners Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW sit fourth on 40.0.
Looking to our North American combinations, Kathryn Robinson and her own Let It Bee, a 16-year-old Westphalian, blew their personal best out of the water to sit in eighth place on 44.4. That’s a three-point improvement over their test from Burghley last year, and Kathryn said the key to the improvement has been getting him more collected.
“I thought he got in there and got a little bit of stage fright, but he still performed,” Kathryn said. “There can be a lot of atmosphere in that arena, especially on a Friday when there’s loads of crowds. I’m mostly always on the first day, so I had to change my game plan of how to work him, not to work him too much but enough.”
As for her thoughts on the cross country course, Kathryn said she thought new designer Eric Winter has done a good job of balancing “rider frighteners” with questions that encourage the riders to think. (Click here for a fence-by-fence preview.)
“I’m quite lucky that I’m later on so I can see a few go and assess it. Sometimes what it walks like isn’t exactly what it rides like. I am looking forward to it. I want to get on now. I’ve been twiddling my thumbs!”
Watch Samantha Clark’s full video interview with Kathryn here:
Our other North American combination to go so far today, Elisa Wallace and Simply Priceless, scored 53.2 to sit in 41st place. It’s been a very chilly, windy day here at Badminton, and Elisa said the conditions definitely affected “Johnny,” a 16-year-old Thoroughbred (Waterford Road X Faux Franc) owned by the Simply Priceless Syndicate.
“He listened and he tried,” Elisa said. “He struggles with tension on a daily basis; that struggle is real but … he still allowed me to ride him and didn’t shut down and completely lose it.”
Luckily for Elisa and Johnny, this is certainly not going to be a dressage show, and they can make up plenty of ground tomorrow. With three clear cross country rounds at four-star level already on their record, their strength in the second phase will definitely prove to be an advantage.
“I’m going to have to ride it like I stole it a little bit. You’re going to have to work out there,” Elisa said. “I told my friend it’s like you’re going to be going to war. You’ve got to go and fight for it. It’s not a breather anywhere really. You’re going to have to really take control of that course because if not it’s going to own you.”
Watch Elisa’s full video interview with Samantha Clark here:
Lauren Kieffer and Veronica go at 3:54 p.m. BST/10:54 a.m. EST and will look to match their personal best of 43.9 from Rolex last year. Looking to the rest of our pairs that went yesterday, Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot now sit tied for 12th on 44.9, with Lynn Symansky and Donner tied for 19th on 47.2, Lauren Kieffer and Landmark’s Monte Carlo in 34th on 50.6, and Katherine Coleman and Longwood in 42nd on 53.6.