Badminton Dressage Day One Live Updates: Party Pants On

Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Good morning and welcome to the first day of Badminton Horse Trials, presented by MARS Equestrian! It’s going to be a wonderful day of dressage competition as we’ll see the first half of the 83-combination field today in front of the judging panel of Christian Landolt, Anne-Marie Taylor, and Seppo Laine.

You can view full ride times here. We’ll see some notable rides today to get things going in full swing, and we’ll also see a good bit of our North American representatives today. Here are some notable times:

11.18 a.m. BST/6.16 a.m. EST – Lillian Heard and LCC Barnaby 37.8

11.26 a.m. BST/6.26 a.m. EST – Phillip Dutton and Z 33.2

11.42 a.m. BST/6.42 a.m. EST – Tamie Smith and Mai Baum 25.6

12.06 p.m. BST/7.06 a.m. EST – Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan 35.4

3.48 p.m. BST/10.48 a.m. EST – Will Faudree and Mama’s Magic Way 39.0

4.44 p.m. BST/11.44 a.m. EST – Matt Flynn and Wizzerd 35.8

Refresh this page frequently for updates from day one, and don’t forget you can also tune in live or on demand yourself by picking up the Badminton TV pass. It’s just $20 or £19.95 and is good for an entire year from the day of purchase, so you’ll have plenty of time to catch up on all the action yourself.

Thanks for following along with us!

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12:07 p.m. EST: A really nice test from Hazel, who often dips under 30 or at least obtains a low 30s mark for the most part. That wraps up dressage for day one, and it’ll still be Tom McEwen who leads the way on his score of 23.4. The top 10 are quite competitive and we’ve still got plenty of heavy hitters yet to come tomorrow, so expect this board to look different tomorrow. Tilly will be along with her report later, and I’m wrapping up the quotes from the U.S. riders for a round-up to come so stay tuned for much more from Badminton. Thanks for following along with me this early morning! You can catch up on full scores here and see ride times for Friday here.

12:04 p.m. EST: Willingapark Clifford is another older horse, 17 this year, and he’s showing that experience in his workmanlike manner in the ring today.

GIF via Badminton TV.

12:01 p.m. EST: And we’ll wrap up day one with another 5* winner, Australia’s Hazel Shannon with her Adelaide winner Willingapark Clifford. They’ve won the Australian 5* three times and also competed at Kentucky in 2019. Hazel’s based with Kevin McNab in England these days as she looks to make a bid for the Aussies’ high performance squad.

12:00 p.m. EST: A 34.4 for Reve du Rouet, who says we actually got his age wrong and he’s 8, not 18.

GIF via Badminton TV.

11:52 a.m. EST: Next up we’ll see Sarah Bullimore, coming off a weekend in Kentucky with Corouet, riding her longtime partner Reve du Rouet. Reve du Rouet is among the more experienced horses in the field; he’s making his 17th start at the 5* level here this weekend. Fun fact: this horse did his very first 5* at Kentucky back in 2014, where he finished 13th.

11:49 a.m. EST: Well some tension is going to hold this pair back from earning a PB here today, but they’ll bee keen to move on the jumping phases. Wizzerd shows off some fancy footwork to make the first flying change happen and hops his way through the second. The changes on the diagonal score a bit stronger. Our final Americans of the day will take a score of 35.8 into cross country. Just two more to see before the end of the first day of dressage!

GIF via Badminton TV.

11:43 a.m. EST: Next in for the Americans will be Matt Flynn and Wizzerd. Matt’s spent a good bit of time in Europe over the last year, rerouting to Montelibretti and Pratoni in Italy after an unfortunate parting of ways at Boekelo. This is a horse who I think we’re just waiting to see have his day; Matt’s a supremely empathetic and quiet rider and the horse just screams traditional event horse in his type and way of going. I’d love to see them squeeze out a low-30s or even a high-20s score today.

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11:38 a.m. EST: Big fan of James’ quiet hands and Milchem Eclipse’s obedient way of going. They aren’t earning the highest marks from the judges, but consistency is the picture here as they go into the walk work.

11:33 a.m. EST: Big smiles from Alice as she finishes her test, which was quite solid and should make her happy as a starting point. We’ve just got a few more to see today, and it’ll be British rider James Rushbrooke next in to make his debut with Milchem Eclipse. This is another one we won’t see challenging the leaders, but they’ll be good for a solid mid-30s mark if they can put all the pieces together.

11:28 a.m. EST: Next we’ll see Alice Casburn and Topspin — at just 20 years old Alice is our youngest rider this weekend, and her partner is a homebred. It’s quite a cool story, according to Tilly’s notes in our Form Guide, as Alice’s mother Caroline actually competed at this level with Topspin’s grandsire as well as dam. Alice and Topspin have only had international experience since 2018, but they’ve got a strong record as they head into their Badminton debut. This won’t be a pair to challenge the leaderboard on the flat, but you can anticipate a solid low-to-mid-30s mark for them to work off of.

11:27 a.m. EST: I tell you, we’re getting enough 7s and 7.5s on this test that we may yet see Classic Moet squeak in with fairly strong score here — especially when you consider the fact she’s a good bet to finish on whatever she starts with. Tension in the canter work will keep them from challenging their best score, but a 31.4 is a great starting point to work from!

GIF via Badminton TV.

11:19 a.m. EST: 2018 Badminton winners Classic Moet and Jonelle Price, who also competed at Kentucky with McClaren last weekend, will now do their test. This wouldn’t be the strongest phase for “Molly” but we already know she’s an all-out cross country machine who eats big tracks for breakfast. Classic Moet has earned a sub-30 score before, in fact a 27.6 was the score she started on in 2018, but she’s more likely to go low-to-mid-30s in this phase.

11:18 a.m. EST: A really lovely test for Emily, who receives a 9 on her final halt and salute. A 28.5 puts her into equal tenth with Pippa Funnell and Billy Walk On — once more showing the absolute depth competing here at Badminton this weekend. All scores in the top 10 are sub-30.

11:14 a.m. EST: A strong, accurate shoulder-in early on for Emily and Valmy Biats. She’s trending with 7s and 7.5s for a lot of these movements.

GIF via Badminton TV.

11:11 a.m. EST: We’ll now see Emily King, who this weekend rides Valmy Biats, in his first start at the 5* level. This is a French-bred horse that’s quite capable on the flat, and he’s partnered with a very talented dressage rider in Emily.

11:10 a.m. EST: Felicity really goes for it in her extended canter and while the flying changes wouldn’t be this horse’s strongest suit she still earned some strong marks for some of her movements. They earn a 32.7, just under one point higher than their Bicton score but still considerably lower than their first attempt at this level, a 37.8 at Pau in 2019.

GIF via Badminton TV.

11:04 a.m. EST: A little bit of sass from Creevagh Silver de Haar keeps this pair from scoring overly competitively, but they’ll take a solid score of 35.5 into cross country. It won’t be a shabby score to have if they can jump around clear. Next in will be Felicity Collins with RSH Contend OR, the horse she’s produced herself and has found multiple successes in the junior ranks with. They were top-10 at the Bicton 5* last year, where they earned a 31.9 on the flat.

10:57 a.m. EST: Next in are Fiona Kashel and Creevagh Silver de Haar, a pair making their 5* debut at Badminton this weekend.

10:55 a.m. EST: Will and Mama’s Magic Way score a 39.0, a little higher than what we’re used to seeing here but there’s still a lot to do and Mason’s one who could certainly jump a fast clear on Saturday. I’m loving the team spirit among the North American (and honorary North American, Mr. Schramm) contingent this week:

Tamie Smith gives Will a post-ride pep talk. GIF via Badminton TV.

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10:53 a.m. EST: Will is doing well to manage the tension here, having to ride conservatively but still asking for what he can in the canter work. I apologize for not having any GIFs of this ride, my live stream is freezing a bit so the quality isn’t great at the moment.

10:50 a.m. EST: This is the first time Will’s competed at Badminton since 2005, when he finished 22nd with the great Antigua. He was a bit sudden in his first halt, but he’s beginning to ride through a little more as we go into the lateral work. “Mason” is looking fit to run on Saturday!

10:47 a.m. EST: We’ll next see our penultimate U.S. pair for today, Will Faudree with Jennifer Mosing/Sterling Silver Stables’ Mama’s Magic Way. This is a horse Will knows quite well at this point, and he’s poised to have a cracking weekend after two solid 5* completions in America. Hector earns a 33.9 which he should be properly pleased with!

10:45 a.m. EST: The changes have gotten stronger as we go for this pair, but a bit of tension otherwise showing up throughout. I’d probably put them into the mid-high 30s which is about what their average has been in international competition.

10:40 a.m. EST: We’re back underway with Hector Payne and Dynasty. Hector is a former rider for William Fox-Pitt and has inherited much of William’s trademark quietness in the saddle as a result. This is the third 5* for Dynasty, and Hector will be looking to improve on a 28th place at Pau in 2020. A 34.4 was their mark at Pau, so we’ll see if they shave a few points off today.

10:20 a.m. EST: We now go into our final coffee break of the day and will resume at 3:40 BST / 10:40 EST with Hector Payne and Dynasty. Will Faudree will also be in the final group at 10:48 a.m. EST, as will Matt Flynn with Wizzerd at 11:44 a.m. EST.

K, so it’s time for the fun stuff now, right? — Vendredi Biats, probably. GIF via Badminton TV.

10:18 a.m. EST: Two 9s on the final halt and salute for Kitty King, who absolutely delivered a beautiful test with Vendredi Biats. This should be one to perhaps challenge that top 5 position on the board! And it does: a 24.8 puts them ahead of Mollie and into second, inching closer to Tom McEwen’s score of 23.4.

GIF via Badminton TV.

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10:11 a.m. EST: Now we’ll see one more before a short break, and that’ll be Kitty King with Vendredi Biats, who first debuted at this level at Badminton in 2019. This is another pair more than capable of a competitive score in the 20s.

10:10 a.m. EST: A 25.1 and 8s across the board for the collective Harmony mark. That’s good enough to put Mollie into second ahead of Tamie Smith, I’ll eat my words now!

10:09 a.m. EST: This test should score pretty nicely — it won’t challenge Tom or Tamie but she should go top 10 with a mid-high 20s mark.

10:08 a.m. EST: Really nice changes on this horse, again some of the better changes we’ve seen today. He’s one that stays consistently uphill in the bridle and responds properly to Mollie’s leg by coming up into his withers.

10:06 a.m. EST: This is a lovely, workmanlike horse that also has fantastic gaits that are accentuated by his ability to relax. He’s earned 7.5s across the board for his extended work, some of the better walk work we’ve seen thus far.

A look at Charly Van Ter Heiden’s reinback. GIF via Badminton TV.

10:04 a.m. EST: Next up are the very exciting Luhmühlen winners, Mollie Summerland and Charly Van Ter Heiden. You may remember this pair as the star of Tilly’s Luhmühlen Tour Diaries, which have since been nominated for an American Horse Publications Equine Media Award.

10:03 a.m. EST: Sofia earns a 10 on her halt before the reinback and ends up with a 29.6 to go into the top 10. Nicely done!

9:58 a.m. EST: We’ll now see Sweden’s Sofia Sjoborg with DHI Mighty Dwight, who will look to build on their 5* debut at Pau in 2021 this weekend.

9:53 a.m. EST: Lots to like here, despite some tension in the canter and walk work but this pair came here to jump. They should be about mid-pack for now and will look to climb from there.

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9:52 a.m. EST: The first changes come a bit undone for Carjatan; Christoph actually came to a half after his second to regroup. He’s not quite getting the brilliant marks his trot work was getting, but he’ll make up some ground with some solid marks on his extended canter and his stretching circle.

9:50 a.m. EST: Quite a few 8s and 9s earned in the trot work for Christoph and Carjatan S, who’s a very big, expressive mover with plenty of suspension. I’m a big fan of Christoph’s style here, allowing the horse to take the contact up and forward rather than pulling him down to meet the hand. He’s lost a few marks on the walk work, earning as low as a 2 for his medium walk from Anne-Marie Taylor at B, but he’ll likely be able to climb back with some quality canter work.

9:45 a.m. EST: Tom was really able to ride Possible Mission into the bridle, earning some good marks despite some bobbles. A 34.2 will fit right about in line with this pair’s averages. Next in will be Christoph Wahler, our sole German rider this weekend, with Carjatan S. This pair were runners-up at Luhmühlen in 2021 and are one to watch as a potential spoiler to be on that podium if they’re able to jump clear and fast.

9:39 a.m. EST: A great effort from Helen and My Ernie, and now we’ll see Tom Rowland with Possible Mission come down centerline.

9:32 a.m. EST: Next to see and a very warm welcome back to this level for Helen Wilson, who rides the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding My Ernie for his first start at the 5* level.

9:29 a.m. EST: Once again, the flying changes are holding a score back from being more competitive but a lot to like about this test from Ben. I think this one will be really fun to watch on Saturday — he just looks like he’s ready to devour a big, open track like what awaits. A 30.7 puts them into the top 10 for now.

Shadow Man says “lemme at ’em!!”. GIF via Badminton TV.

9:25 a.m. EST: One of Ben’s claims to fame as a rider is his penchant for Clydesdale crosses, but this week he’s partnered with the Belgian Warmblood that’s a bit leaner than some of his past partners. This is a horse that’s spent a good part of the season thus far in the show jumping ring, and he’s definitely capable of squeezing into the 20s in this phase of competition.

9:22 a.m. EST: Arianna scores a 37.4 to go even with Sarah and Woodcourt Garrison, keeping about in line if maybe a shade higher than her average at this level. This pair knows each other like the back of hand and hoof and should be fun to watch on Saturday. Next in will be Ben Hobday with Shadow Man, another horse making his debut at the level this weekend.

GIF via Badminton TV.

9:16 a.m. EST: Sarah and Woodcourt Garrison score a 37.4, which trends in line with their averages in international competition. Next to see will be Italian combination Arianna Schivo and Quefira de l’Ormeau, who competed at the 2016 Olympics in Rio as well as the 2018 World Equestrian Games in North Carolina and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo together.

9:13 a.m. EST: Woodcourt Garrison doesn’t quite want to let the neck go and stretch down in the canter circle, losing a few marks. And quite a spread on the marks for the final halt: a 7.5 from Seppo Laine at H and a 5.0 from Anne-Marie Taylor at B.

9:11 a.m. EST: This is another thing I really appreciate about the new collective mark for Harmony. You’ll remember there have been collective marks in the past for rider position and horse gaits, which caused a lot of favor toward the bigger-moving horses when a horse that isn’t fancy couldn’t be rewarded as well for obedience. The Harmony collective mark is intended to emphasize a proper relationship between horse and rider, meaning even a rider on a less flashy horse can make up ground on the Mai Baums of the world with good communication with its rider.

9:10 a.m. EST: Sarah’s really come in going for it, asking Woodcourt Garrison for a big, forward step. Alex Bragg, joining John Kyle in the booth, says this test does favor the big movers while also testing accuracy. The best tests we’ve seen are those that are asking for the bigger step without losing balance, and Sarah’s accomplishing this so far. It wouldn’t be the fanciest horse in the field, but he’s listening well as we go into the walk work.

9:06 a.m. EST: A 32.7 puts Cathal into 12th at the moment. Next we’ll see another horse making his 5* debut, Sarah Ennis’ Woodcourt Garrison. And though this may be the technical 5* debut for this horse, he’s not short on experience: he’s been around the European Championships as well as the Olympics in Tokyo with Sarah, representing Ireland.

9:03 a.m. EST: A very type-y British-bred horse, this Barrichello, who is 13 this year. He’s gotten some good marks but Cathal’s riding through a bit of tension and trying to coax as much relaxation and throughness as he can. That work pays off as the gelding stretches down and forward to the bridle on the stretching circle. They won’t quite challenge the leaders with this bit — the changes in particular need some development — but it’s a solid first effort on this very technical 5* test B.

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8:56 a.m. EST: Welcome back! I’m feeling much more bright-eyed after a caffeine infusion during the break and ready to tackle the afternoon session of rides at Badminton. We’ve still got two more U.S. riders to see this afternoon — Will Faudree (Mama’s Magic Way) and Matt Flynn (Wizzerd). They’ll come forward later, but first it’s Ireland’s Cathal Daniels who will ride Barrichello, a horse making his 5* debut this weekend.

7:30 a.m. EST: And that’s all to see as we go into a lunch break! We’ll be back in this live updates thread at 9 a.m. EST with Cathal Daniels and Barrichello the first to see after the break. Here’s a look at your top 10 after the morning session — live scores can be found here.

7:30 a.m. EST: Amanda’s 25.9 will be good enough for top 5 heading into the lunch break! What a cool little horse — showing us all that the OTTB CAN do dressage!

GIF via Badminton TV.

7:29 a.m. EST: I hope Amanda’s quite pleased with this test, what a trier this horse is! She looks absolutely thrilled and even earns a 9 on her final halt and salute. Well done!

7:25 a.m. EST: Just for fun, here’s Fusaichi Pegasus winning the 2000 Kentucky Derby:

7:23 a.m. EST: Amanda Pottinger and Just Kidding will be the next to see. A fun fact: Just Kidding is a racebred horse by the American Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus. I also now feel supremely old as Just Kidding is 16 and I can vividly remember watching Fusaichi Pegasus during his racing years.

7:21 a.m. EST: Some really nice work for Esib and Soladoun, who worked through a bit of tension to produce some great moments. She looks pleased with big pats for the 15-year-old Thoroughbred who should absolutely relish the cross country on Saturday.

GIF via Badminton TV.

7:16 a.m. EST: I know my live updates are just absolutely RIVETING, but you definitely want to snag a Badminton TV pass to watch live and on-demand all weekend. The stream has been working wonderfully this morning, and the commentary from John Kyle and his various guests is always a treat; I know I learn a lot each time I listen. You can purchase your pass for the weekend here.

7:13 a.m. EST: A 35.4 will be the starting mark for Ariel and Leamore Master Plan, who is looking raring to go and attack that Eric Winter track on Saturday. We’ll next see Ireland’s Esib Power with Soladoun, returning to this level for the first time since 2018.

Pats for “Simon” from Erik Duvander after Ariel’s test. GIF via Badminton TV.

7:11 a.m. EST: Ariel’s lost some marks in her walk work and flying changes; Leamore Master Plan is a bit busy in the mouth and listening well but just not giving us tons of expression as she rides through any tension she feels. Again, this is one we should anticipate gaining ground as we get into the jumping phases. Riding is very much an art of riding the horse on the day, and Ariel would be one of the more empathetic riders we see here in the U.S.

7:07 a.m. EST: Ariel has been around the world already with Leamore Master Plan, having done three 5* events that include a third place at Pau and a 10th at Burghley. Dressage wouldn’t be their absolute favorite phase, but they’re absolutely capable of slotting in under the 30 marker.

Leamore Master Plan stretches into the early extended trot. GIF via Badminton TV.

7:05 a.m. EST: A 33.3 will put Rose and EG Michaelangelo into 13th early on, very respectable for their first attempt at this level! This pair has nary a cross country penalty on their international record.

Quite obsessed with the very kissable snip on EG Michaelangelo’s nose. GIF via Badminton TV.

7:05 a.m. EST: Rose will lose a few points here in the flying changes, but honestly this has been a great test especially for a debut in the big stadium. The atmosphere didn’t seem to bother this pair. We’ll next see another American pair, Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan.

7:00 a.m. EST: Rose is a product of Pony Club, and she’s been building this partnership with the 11-year-old EG Michaelangelo since the Irish gelding by Chellthago Z was five. This is a pair who’s consistently trended in the low-to-mid-30s in this phase and look to be on their way to at least keeping in with that pattern, if not improving it, today.

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6:56 a.m. EST: Those changes will have held this pair back from a superbly competitive mark, but again this will be a pair looking to gain some ground come Saturday. They’ll take a 35.9 into the next phase of competition. Next up will be Britain’s Rose Nesbitt with EG Michaelangelo, making their 5* debut.

6:54 a.m. EST: Austin gets a bell during his canter work to signify and error of course. He’s having to work hard to coax these changes out of Colarado Blue, who bless him is definitely more of a jumping horse than a dressage horse.

6:53 a.m. EST: Here we are with some scores: Phillip scores a 33.2 with Z, and Lillian earns a 37.8 for 12th and 14th, respectively. These are both horses who will make up ground in the jumping phases.

6:50 a.m. EST: I’m still not seeing a score for Lillian or Phillip, but I’ll keep you updated! We’ll now move on to Irish Olympian Austin O’Connor with Colorado Blue. This horse got the call up for Tokyo and went on to finish individually in the top 15. His barn name is “Salty” and I was truthfully hoping there was a fun story there, but Austin says it’s just the name he came to the stables with and it stuck.

6:48 a.m. EST: The stretching canter circle is the lowest scored movement for Tamie and Mai Baum, earning a couple 6.5s. But it’s a very strong test, one we’ve come to anticipate here. A 25.6 will go into second — hey, it’s not the record maybe some were hoping for but Tamie isn’t here to win the dressage. She’s here to do much more than that, and she’s put herself into a good position to be competitive.

GIF via Badminton TV.

6:47 a.m. EST: Lots of 9s now coming in, for the halt, rein-back and now some of the canter work.

GIF via Badminton TV.

6:45 a.m. EST: Tamie’s scoring a bit stronger in her walk work than current leader Tom McEwen was with Toledo de Kerser.

6:43 a.m. EST: Ah, Mai Baum just breaks into canter for a step in his first half-pass to the left after scoring 9s on his early movements.

6:42 a.m. EST: Oliver Townend set the 5* score record with Cillnabradden Evo in 2019 at this event, scoring a 19.7. This horse could be one to beat this record.

6:41 a.m. EST: A 33.7 for Bundy and Tresca NZPH. We will next see one of the more hotly anticipated pairs this weekend: Americans Tamie Smith and Mai Baum.

6:37 a.m. EST: A score update! Piggy March goes into equal second on a 25.7, tied with Oliver and Swallow Springs. No score yet for Lillian or Phillip.

6:35 a.m. EST: Angela Tucker shares a memory of competing Phillip’s horse, True Blue Girdwood, around an Open Intermediate when Phillip came over to base with her one year. Meanwhile, we’re still waiting on some score updates and we are next seeing New Zealand’s Bundy Philpott and Tresca NZPH. This is Bundy’s first Badminton since 2007.

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6:31 a.m. EST: Phillip will lose a few marks on loss of connection here in the canter, but this would be one of the more forward and flowing tests this horse has done and he gets a big pat at his final halt. I don’t think this will be the top score we’ve seen from this pair but they’ll certainly be doing their best to finish on whatever mark they start on.

GIF via Badminton TV.

6:29 a.m. EST: Not quite square or immobile in the halt, followed by some tension in the reinback. Now into the canter work, and we’ll see if we can pick up some more marks here. Phillip’s worked hard with this horse over the years, particularly on his flying changes.

6:27 a.m. EST: Z is one you can anticipate going into a sub-30 mark if Phillip can keep him focused and relaxed, which he seems to be accomplishing so far. A little trip in his left 8-meter circle into the shoulder-in, but he’s looking quite loose over his topline if perhaps a touch unsteady in the bridle.

6:26 a.m. EST: The score page appears to be down at the moment, so we’re still waiting on Piggy’s scores and will update you as soon as possible. We now move into our next U.S. rider, Phillip Dutton and his Tokyo partner, Z.

6:23 a.m. EST: Angela Tucker says she gets the feeling LCC Barnaby is a cross country machine, and she’d be correct: he’s one you’ll want to watch come Saturday!

LCC Barnaby works through his flying change. GIF via Badminton TV.

6:22 a.m. EST: Lillian’s riding conservatively here; LCC Barnaby is a workmanlike guy who wants to do the right thing and stay connected.

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6:18 a.m. EST: This is a first visit to Badminton for this pair, who won’t threaten the leaders on the first day but who can certainly lay down a textbook cross country ride. Lillian is a very popular coach here in the U.S., and her efficient way of going on cross country is something to watch and pick up a few tips from.

6:17 a.m. EST: Always love to have a judge’s perspective in the commentary box, and Angela Tucker now joins John Kyle in the booth. Piggy looks pleased with the efforts of her big mare, and we now get to our very first American rider: Lillian Heard and LCC Barnaby.

6:10 a.m. EST: And welcome back, we’re now getting underway with our second session and it’s Piggy March coming forward with Vanir Kamira, who won Badminton’s last run in 2019.

5:48 a.m. EST: A break in the extended trot and some other small mistakes will keep this test from being the most competitive, but he looks pleased nonetheless — he’ll go into 10th on a 33.6. We’ll now move into a 20 minute break and will see 2019 Badminton winners Piggy March and Vanir Kamira next at 6:10 a.m. EST. Live scores can be found here, and here’s a look at the early top five:

5:41 a.m. EST: A 28.5 is good for early fifth place, not quite the lowest we’ve seen from Billy Walk On, who is 13 this year, but we’ll also see Pippa back tomorrow with 2019 Burghley winner MGH Grafton Street. Next up before our first coffee break of the day will be Australia’s Bill Levett with Lassban Diamond Lift, who finished 15th at Badminton in 2019. Fun fact, Lassban Diamond Lift’s barn name is Sparkles so, that’s fun.

5:39 a.m. EST: Our third 10 of the day comes out for Pippa’s final halt and salute, this time from Christina Landoldt!

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5:34 a.m. EST: Next we’ll see Rolex Grand Slam winner Pippa Funnell with one of my absolute favorite horses, Billy Walk On. This horse was second at the pop-up Bicton 5* last year and will be looking to finish strongly this weekend after withdrawing during the last go in 2019.

5:33 a.m. EST: A 25.7, which bests the 27.8 earned at this event in 2019 by Swallow Springs with Andrew Nicholson. We’re just a handful in and already quite bunched at the top of the leaderboard!

5:31 a.m. EST: A 7, 8, and 9 for Oliver on his final halt and salute, who looks pleased with this effort from the 14-year-old Irish horse by Chillout.

GIF via Badminton TV.

5:26 a.m. EST: Swallow Springs would be one you’d look for a sub-30 score (honestly, I feel like a sub-30 will be more the norm this weekend than not), and Oliver’s trending in the upper 20s/low 30s at the moment as we go into the canter work. You also remember that this is a relatively new partnership, so surely the best is even yet to come as they continue to solidify.

5:24 a.m. EST: Ros waits for her score, which will feature one 10 from Seppo Leine: it’s a 26.4 and good to sneak ahead of Nicola Wilson into second. We’ll now see Oliver Townend with his first ride, former Andrew Nicholson ride Swallow Springs. This is the first 5* for this partnership.

5:21 a.m. EST: TBH, I’m mostly envious of Ros’ skill gathering the double reins up after the stretching circle at the canter. A severely underrated skill.

5:19 a.m. EST: Ros rides for a strong extended canter, which comes quite early in this 5* test B, so you’d better have your horse on the aids and straight right away.

GIF via Badminton TV.

5:17 a.m. EST: Told you this field is the strongest we’ve seen in recent history: we now move from the European Champion to the World Champion, Ros Canter and Allstar B, winners of the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon.

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5:15 a.m. EST: Nicole will be pleased with this first 5* test for her partner, who scored a 20.9 at Europeans in Avenches last year, but a few points left on the board will keep them away from repeating that. Not to worry, though — they still earn a 26.6 to be quite competitive, a very strong score particularly for a debut.

5:14 a.m. EST: Very impressed with the strong crowd gathered for this first morning dressage session – I think it’s safe to say the fans are happy to have Badminton back!

5:08 a.m. EST: William, a 14-time 5* winner, earns a 31.4 with Oratorio to go into early second place. We’ll see him return tomorrow with Little Fire. Without that early error, he would’ve notched in just below the 30 mark. We’ll next see Nicola Wilson with the first of two rides, the 5* debutant and reigning European Champion JL Dublin.

5:06 a.m. EST: A touch quiet for William and Oratorio, which is causing their scores to trend a bit lower than what we’ve seen this horse earn before. His personal best at the 5* level is a 27, earned at the pop-up 5* at Bicton in 2021.

5:04 a.m. EST: Pats from a happy Tom after earning a personal best with Toledo de Kerser:

GIF via Badminton TV.

5:01 a.m. EST: Joseph Murphy scores a 31.5 with Cesar V, and we’ll now see William Fox-Pitt with the first of his two rides, Oratorio. Harry Meade has helped prep William’s horses this spring after he took a tumble earlier in the spring that kept him out of the saddle. Oratorio has jumped clear around Badminton in the past. And a bummer early on as he’s picked up an error in his test, turning the wrong way after the initial centerline. That’ll be two penalty points added.

4:59 a.m. EST: Tom will likely want a few points back in his walk work and the first flying change, but we also saw a healthy number of 8s and 9s coming in and fully anticipate a top score: a 23.4 is the provisional, which would be a personal best for Tom at this level.

4:58 a.m. EST: We’ve got a 10, ladies and gents! A 10 on the extended canter from judge at H Seppo Laine.

4:57 a.m. EST: Toledo de Kerser wouldn’t be one you’d peg to have tension in the ring and while he’s looking a bit more tense in the walk he’ll be able to make up some points in the canter work.

4:55 a.m. EST: Already a couple of 9s on the board for the first few movements.

4:53 a.m. EST: Padraig goes into the very early lead with a 31.7 aboard Fallulah. Now we’ll see one of the first heavy hitters in Tokyo partners Tom McEwen and Toledo de Kerser. This will be one you can fairly expect to go into the 20s and could easily also be one you could see at the top of the board come Sunday.

4:47 a.m. EST: Now we’ll move on to our first Irish pair, Joseph Murphy and Cesar V. Joseph is fresh from Kentucky, where he competed Calmaro in the 5* and finished in the top 10. Cesar V is 14 this year and makes his 5* debut at Badminton this weekend.

4:45 a.m. EST: You can find live scores at this link. Kirsty’s is the first to hit the board: a 32.8 that will be a strong score to be on if they can jump clear on Saturday.

4:42 a.m. EST: A really nice job managing the excitement for Padraig, who brought Fallulah to her 5* debut at Pau in 2021.

4:36 a.m. EST: A really nice test to get us started from Kirsty. John Kyle mentions that Christian Landholdt spent some time watching the 5* test ridden in Kentucky to help himself prepare for judging this weekend. Pretty cool! Next to see will be Ireland’s Padraig McCarthy and Fallulah.

4:32 a.m. EST: Classic VI gets a bit wonky in the reinback and hits the rail, but we’re safely into the canter work and Kirsty’s doing a wonderful job of keeping the mare’s focus on her. Nice changes — a bit of anticipation but she’s being obedient.

4:29 a.m. EST: And we are underway with the first to see, Kirsty Chabert and the 13-year-old British Sport Horse, Classic VI.