Australia’s Chris Burton pulled out all the stops to produce a beautifully flowing test and go into the lead ahead of tomorrow’s cross-country at this year’s Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.
Riding 12-year-old gelding Graf Liberty by Limmerick, Chris rode sympathetically to steady the horse’s nerves in the electric atmosphere and earn a score of 32.9.
“He felt a bit excited going into the ring but he just stuck with me,” said Chris. “I purposefully didn’t push him too hard at the start of the week – the first time I sat on him here was on Wednesday after the trot up because I’ve been known to over do it on him, but he just went better and better, and to come out with a 32.9 is fantastic. I knew he had a good test in him, but didn’t necessarily think it would come out today, at Badminton.”
An accurate and harmonious test put Germany’s Ingrid Klimke into second place riding Horseware Hale Bob Old. After a slightly unsettled entry into the main arena, Ingrid pulled off a dressage masterclass to earn 36.4.
“He was so brave because there was a lot of clapping outside just as we were entering the main arena and he was quite excited, but the moment I entered the ring, he was totally with me and really gave his very best,” said Ingrid. “I think he did the best test he can do.”
Ireland’s Jonty Evans slotted into third place with 37.2 riding Cooley Rorkes Drift.
“He is definitely my horse of a lifetime,” said an emotional Jonty. “I wasn’t sure whether he was going to be totally with me because he was quite lit up on Wednesday, but he felt really good this morning. We’ve been trying to get scores of below 40, and today we cracked it. It’s just unbelievable.”
Ingrid was the rider to voice the opinion of all the top three, referring to Germany’s recent team trainer, now trainer to Great Britain: “Chris Bartle would say, ‘Throw the sheet away tonight. Tomorrow is another day and we’ll see who’s in the lead then’.”
“It’s been an excellent two days of dressage. With less than five penalties separating the top four riders, and a testing cross country course to be jumped tomorrow, there is all to play for,” said Lance Bradley, Managing Director of Mitsubishi Motors in the UK.
Saturday’s cross-country action kicks off at 11.30am when this year’s pathfinders Lauren Kieffer and Landmark’s Monte Carlo set off to tackle Eric Winter’s ‘big and bold’ track.