Paul Tapner and Kilronan Lead at Badminton After First Day

Overnight Badminton leaders Francis Whittington and Paul Tapner! Photo by Samantha Clark. Overnight Badminton leaders Francis Whittington and Paul Tapner! Photo by Samantha Clark.

Kate called it in her Badminton preview, and Paul Tapner and Kilronan absolutely rose to the occasion today to deliver a jaw-dropping 36.0 at Badminton Horse Trials to hold the overnight lead after the first day of dressage. Weather conditions continued to deteriorate this afternoon, with the heavy winds blowing the rain sideways, but Paul and Kilronan didn’t seem to mind at all, putting in a spectacular performance to absolutely deserve the lead. This is a personal best four-star score for both Paul and the horse, and he was all smiles after the final salute.

Francis Whittington and Easy Target held the lead at the lunch break, and they were just barely bumped into second place on their score of 36.2. But that certainly shouldn’t dampen Francis’ spirits, and he was all smiles after the test, giving hugs all around and a special embrace to “Smokey.” Lucinda Fredericks and Flying Finish put in the lovely, accurate test we’ve come to expect from them to score 39.0 to hold third place overnight. That’s an astounding three scores in the 30s on the first day of dressage, leading nowhere for the judges to score but down as we look ahead to tomorrow.

The rain continued to fall this afternoon, meaning empty stands as the spectators retreated to cozier places like The Outside Chance and a full media center as the photographers and journalists waved the white flag and watched the action from the TVs — including me. But don’t think that means I don’t have much more to bring you from Badminton. We’ve just wrapped up the press conference, and Chinch got in on the action, as you’ll see above. For photos of this afternoon’s tests, check out Nico Morgan’s galleries from the dressage here.

Badminton Horse Trials: [Website] [Times] [Scores]

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 6.04.43 PMclick to enlarge

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