Saturday, April 23, 2011


Ruth Edge (GBR) on Two Thyme takes the lead on Day 2 of Dressage at Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials 2011 – first leg of the HSBC FEI Classics™ 2011 © Kit Houghton/FEI
Lausanne (SUI), 23 April 2011

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A trio of British girls head the leaderboard after the Dressage phase at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (GBR), the first leg of the HSBC FEI Classics™ 2011.

Ruth Edge (GBR), in pole position with the excellent score of 33.3 penalties on the 17-year-old Two Thyme, winner at Luhmühlen in 2007, is no stranger to the limelight in this phase – indeed, she regularly wins national titles in this discipline.

“There’s always a lot of pressure on me here and I’m anxious not to let anyone down because it’s a lot of work to get this horse here,’ she said. “But he was awesome today and belied his age. As he’s older, I hadn’t done much work with him this week and, as a result, he felt physically fresh.”

Piggy French (GBR), second, had the distinction of scoring the only 10 of the competition, awarded by Ground Jury President Anne-Mette Binder (DEN) for her halt on Jakata, and it was greeted by a deafening roar of approval from the packed stands.

“I can’t stop crying,” exclaimed French, who said she was shaking with excitement. “I’m so proud of the horse and I couldn’t believe how much the crowd was behind me. I knew Jakata was capable of that sort of mark, but I was only realistically expecting something around 41.”

The 21-year-old Laura Collett (GBR), who so impressed on day one, is still in third place, and there are five Britons in the top 10, but the home crowd had perhaps their biggest thrill as the final rider of the day, 55-year-old Mark Todd (NZL), a triple Badminton winner, swept into close contention with a brilliant performance on NZB Land Vision.

Todd, who acquired the grey gelding by Broadstone Landmark from Oliver Townend (GBR) last year, anticipates that the 10-year-old should cope with tomorrow’s Cross-Country test, although it is his first attempt at this level.

“He got a bit uptight in his test, so I couldn’t go for it as much as I would have liked, but it’s his first time in a big atmosphere and he’s still relatively inexperienced,” commented the New Zealander.

There was disappointment at the withdrawal of two key British riders, Kristina Cook, whose European Champion Miners Frolic has a swelling on the wither, and Pippa Funnell, who reported Redesigned to be not 100% sound, but a thrilling contest is assured with six nations represented in the top 10 and just 1.5 of a penalty covering the riders placed 12-20th.

Much interest surrounds the trio of Canadian riders who took the world by storm when winning team silver at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ last year and who have been brought by their team trainer David O’Connor to contest Badminton for the first time.

Selena O’Hanlon (CAN), 30, is lying equal 10th on the Swedish-bred Colombo, a horse sent to her for rehabilitation. “It feels surreal to be here,” she said.  “Colombo is 17, but he was the fastest across country at the World Games and was as sound as anything afterwards, which is a sure sign that we can keep going forward. The footing here is incredible, and once I get past fences 7-8, which are super upright and make my stomach turn, I shall be attacking.”

1 Ruth Edge/Two Thyme (GBR) 33.3
2 Piggy French/Jakata (GBR) 36.0
3 Laura Collett/Rayef (GBR) 36.5
4 Mark Todd/NZB Land Vision (NZL) 36.8
5 Emily Baldwin/Drivetime (GBR) 39.7
6 Marina Köhncke/Calma Schelly (GER) 39.8
7 Oliver Townend/Ashdale Cruise Master (GBR) 40.5
8 Aoife Clark/master Crusoe (IRL) 42.2
9 Susanna Bordone/Carrera (ITA) 43.0
10 = Ingrid Klimke/Butts Abraxxas (GER) 43.3
10= Selena O’Hanlon/Colombo (CAN) 43.3