Day One Concludes With Australia On Top at Badminton

Australia’s Christopher Burton, who is sitting in first place on Holstein Park Leilani after Day 1 of dressage at Badminton, said in the post-dressage press conference that he didn’t expect to be in such a position today, as the mare is really more of a cross-country horse. She’s 17 now, and he said he’s always thought of her as a Badminton horse, so he’s thrilled to be here with her this weekend. Watch the video for all of Burto’s comments from the press conference. Sam Griffiths, who is sitting in second place on Happy Times, said the horse is quite an experienced competitor now and is in very good form for a top performance this weekend at Badminton. But this weekend isn’t just a dressage show, and, as Sam said, Badminton is a course where you can’t take anything for granted. Sam said the footing is very good on course and may help riders come closer to making time than in past years, as time can be notoriously tough to make here at Badminton.

Andrew Nicholson, who is sitting in third place with Avebury, said the horse is a very cool competitor under pressure and in a big atmosphere like Badminton, so he was pleased with how composed the horse stayed throughout the test. Unfortunately, the test had a few bobbles — which Andrew mostly blamed on himself — and when asked whether he thought his test on Nereo would score better, he answered a quick and firm “yes.” Of course, the major story line this weekend is the Grand Slam showdown between Andrew and William Fox-Pitt, but Andrew said he’s pushed the quest for $350,000 out of his mind. The way he put it, he’s just here this weekend to win Badminton; the win just happens to come with a hell of a prize attached.

We have a very exciting lineup tomorrow, and there’s a good chance these leaders won’t be anywhere near the top by the time dressage concludes here at Badminton. We’ll also see all of the North American riders tomorrow, with Clark Montgomery and Universe leading off for the U.S. at 9:32 a.m. local time. While we certainly saw some lovely performances today, all eyes will be on Day 2 of dressage to truly give us an idea of who will be victorious come Monday afternoon. Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW, William Fox-Pitt and Parklane Hawk, and Andrew Nicholson and Nereo all go in the last group tomorrow, so it’s going to be a very long day of holding our breath and waiting to see if one of these pairs will take the lead going into cross country on Sunday. Tune in tomorrow for much more from Badminton. Go eventing.

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