Defending champion Ros Canter sits in the lead after the second day of dressage at the Mars Badminton Horse Trials, this time riding her own and Alex Moody’s Izilot DHI (‘Isaac’, pictured above). Ros scored 25.3 with a flowing and consistent test, with Isaac listening attentively to Ros despite his sometimes spooky tendencies.

“I’m absolutely delighted with Isaac,” she said. “He’s been fantastic all week. We came here quite realistic as Isaac is very spooky and when we got here on Tuesday I led him out and let him graze everywhere and he’s been an absolute angel ever since. We know we can do amazing work but [performing so well] in that atmosphere is very special.”

Izilot DHI pictured after his leading dressage test

Since their Pau win last year, Isaac has done a lot less schooling, and this routine seems to suit the 11-year-old gelding well.

“He loves to hack and he uses his eyes out hacking, which you can’t to so much in the arena at home so it seems to be working,” said Ros.

Returning with a different horse after winning last year with Lordships Graffalo (‘Walter’) made for a different mindset for Ros.

“I think if I was on Lordships Graffalo it would be different, because the pressure would be on to come back and defend the title,” she said. “With Isaac, he’s beautiful but we know he can have a spooky day.

“The stamina and endurance he’s going to experience [on cross-country day]; he wouldn’t be naturally as blood as Walter anyway, so that is a bit of a question mark. We’re trying to enjoy it really.”

2nd Bubby Upton and Cola

Bubby Upton made a triumphant return from what could have been a career-ending injury with her mother Rachel’s Cola, on whom she finished eighth last year.

Seven months ago, Bubby broke several vertebrae in a schooling fall at home and, after months of uncertainty, she began riding again in January.

“I kept pushing the markers forward and here I am,” said Bubby, who scored 27.3 yesterday. “It was a very uncertain period for all of us and I certainly come to events with a different perspective. Every day I feel so lucky to be doing what I love. There is pure happiness and the joy of disbelief.”

3rd Tim Price and Vitali

New Zealand’s Tim Price followed in third with an exuberant Vitali.

“I’m delighted to not make any silly mistakes but I just had maybe two or three moments which showed he was a bit effervescent today, but saying that he’s been really good this week,” Tim said. “It’s just Badminton, it’s early in the season, they’re fit as a fiddle and the atmosphere […] makes him be not quite 100% focused all the time.”

4th Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF

US rider Boyd Martin was proud of 17-year-old Trakehner gelding Tsetserleg TSF and their score of 29.0, describing him as a ‘legend horse’.

5th Emily King and Valmy Biats

Emily King followed in fifth and was equally delighted with 15-year-old Valmy Biats.

“I’m so pleased with him, he was so rideable,” she said. “He’s quite a hot, all-action horse, and a bit stressy so I have to keep him cool and calm and fluid. I was trying to be a little bit safer with no mistakes rather than really showing him off, so I was so pleased with him, he did everything I asked of him.

“We had a little jog in the walk before the halt but with all the hard stuff he was really good.”

Emily added that it was a great time for her horse.

“He is on fantastic form and he feels so fit and ready, he feels the best he’s ever felt,” she said. “I’m looking forward to giving it a good shot.”

6th Tiana Coudray and Cancaras Girl

American Tiana Coudray lies in sixth and was ecstatic with her mare’s performance, scoring 29.8.

“I can’t believe it,” she said. “Cancaras Girl gave me everything; it was the test of her career and what a day to do it.

 “Years ago I lived the dream, riding at Badminton and competing at the Olympics, but then I had to grow up and start buying and selling and it’s a bit of luck that I have Cancaras Girl. It’s really special.”

7th Caroline Powell and Greenacres Special Cavalier

Caroline Powell and Greenacres Special Cavalier score of 30 earnt them seventh position. “Absolutely thrilled with ‘Cav’ today, who did a lovely test,” she said.

Equal 8th William Fox-Pitt with Grafennacht

William Fox-Pitt finished the dressage phase in equal eighth with Ireland’s Georgie Goss, scoring 30.6. The legendary rider hinted that the historic occasion of Badminton’s 75th anniversary is likely to be his last ride here.

He first competed here in 1988, has completed 25 times on 16 different horses and has won twice, on Tamarillo in 2004 and the stallion Chilli Morning in 2015, after which he returned from a serious head injury to compete at the Olympic Games.

Grafennacht is the first mare William has ridden at this level.

“I am never going to say never again, but I think it is the right thing to do,” he said, “but it will be tough to give up if this turns out to be a good Badminton for me.”

Equal 8th Georgie Goss with Feloupe

Equal 10th Max Warburton with Monbeg Exclusive and Gemma Stevens with Chilli Knight

Completing the top 10 is Max Warburton with Monbeg Exclusive and Gemma Stevens with Chilli Knight, both scoring 31.7. With the dressage phase completed, riders will now be fully focused on tomorrow’s cross-country phase.

Tim Price said he was looking forward to it. “It’s challenging, it’s a proper full up track,” he said. “I’m excited about jumping it.”

Emily King welcomed the kinder finish which has been implemented, especially considering the wet spring the UK has experienced. “There are so many questions around the course the horses deserve to have a slightly softer finish,” she said.

The cross-country action kicks off tomorrow (11 May) at 11.30am.

All images: copyright Photography by Shelley/Your Horse

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