Oliver Townend strengthened his claims to this year’s Mitsubishi Motors Badminton trophy when he pulled off an exceptional dressage test on Friday afternoon on his second ride, Ballaghmor Class, to leave him in first and second places at the end of the first phase.
His 2017 Burghley winner couldn’t quite catch his stablemate, Cillnabradden Evo, who still leads on a score of 19.7, but a mark of 21.1 was still an impressive achievement under great pressure.
No other rider has been in this position in Badminton’s history and only one rider – Ian Stark – has ever finished first and second. But it would be a brave man to bet against the on-form Townend to match this feat.
Tom McEwen has been nudged down into third place with Toledo De Kerser. They lie on a score of 24.7 going into the cross-country phase.
Piggy French and Vanir Kamira slip one place to fourth.
The other notable performance in Friday afternoon’s session came from Pippa Funnell and five-star first-timer Billy Walk On, who squeezed into the top five with an expressive performance that left them on a score of 26.5.