British Olympic team gold medallists Laura Collett and London 52 pulled off a spectacular personal best in the dressage arena to soar into the lead at Badminton Horse Trials, presented by Mars Equestrian, today.

The duo scored 21 and were awarded three 10s, for extended trot, canter and halt.

“This is what we all dream of,” smiled Laura after her test. “It’s not often you go into the arena at Badminton and have a lovely time, but that horse is just so nice to ride and he was so with me.”

The pair lie 2.4 penalties ahead of Tom McEwen and Toledo de Kerser — their teammates in Tokyo last year — who led after dressage day one.

“I’m very conscious of the pressure, but I said after Tokyo that I wouldn’t read into things and that this horse owes me nothing,” said Laura.

“He won me my first five-star [Pau in 2020] and and he won me an Olympic gold medal, so everything now is about enjoying a phenomenal horse.”

British domination

Tom said of his test yesterday, also a personal best for 23.4: “[Toledo] was phenomenal. The half passes were lovely; he was smooth in his body and kept up a great rhythm, and it was pretty well mistake-free.”

There are eight British riders inside the top 10 after two days of dressage.

Kitty King (Vendredi Biats) occupies third place, ahead of Mollie Summerland (Charly Van Ter Heiden).

American Tamra Smith (Mai Baum) is in fifth, ahead of world number one Oliver Townend (Swallow Springs) and defending champion Piggy French (Vanir Kamira), who share sixth.

New Zealand’s Amanda Pottinger (Just Kidding) lies joint eight with Oliver on his second ride, Ballaghmor Class.

Reigning world champion Ros Canter and Lordships Graffalo round off the top 10. Ros also lies 12th with Allstar B.

‘There is a lot to do out there’

Scoring is tight at the business end of the leaderboard and a mere handful of cross-country time-penalties over Eric Winter’s challenging cross-country track could change everything tomorrow.

“Tomorrow is a whole different ballgame,” said Laura Collett. “It’s very well-built but there is a lot to do out there.”

Ros Canter agreed.

“The more I walk the course the tougher I think it is, the cleverer I think Eric has been, and the more complicated I think it is,” she said.

“You start thinking about your minute markers and the knock-on effect of all those big jumps and the twists. I don’t think it will be easy tomorrow, but I hope if the horses are confident they will be rewarded.”

The cross-country kicks off at 11.30am tomorrow. Tickets have sold out and none are available on the gate. Anyone not attending can watch the action via Badminton TV.

Click here for the full leaderboard and cross-country start times.

Top 10 after dressage

1, Laura Collett (London 52) GBR 21

2, Tom McEwen (Toledo de Kerser) GBR 23.4

3, Kitty King (Vendredi Biats) GBR 24.8

4, Mollie Summerland (Charly Van Ter Heiden) GBR 24.9

5, Tamra Smith (Mai Baum) USA 25.3

=6, Oliver Townend (Swallow Springs) GBR & Piggy French (Vanir Kamira) GBR 25.7

=8, Amanda Pottinger (Just Kidding) NZL & Oliver Townend (Ballaghmor Class) GBR 25.9

10, Ros Canter (Lordships Graffalo) GBR 26

Main image: Laura Collett gives her test aboard London 52 the thumbs up. Credit: Kit Houghton

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