Two veteran crowd favorites failed to produce fairytales in the final session of the day one of the Badminton Horse Trials dressage, at the event presented by Mars Equestrian. While former winner Classic Moet and five-star Stalwart Reve Du Rouet put up middling displays, the debutant Valmy Biats moved into the top 10.
Emily King made an impressive return to Badminton with the first-timer Valmy Biats to score 28.5 and go into equal 10th with Pippa Funnell and Billy Walk On at the end of day one. They scored consistent sevens, with very few errors, and finished on a high with a nine from the judge at H for their final halt.
“He’s come on so much in dressage these past couple of years,” said Emily. “I’ve only had him for two years, and when he came he couldn’t do flying changes. Give him another year and he’ll be mega.
“He coped very well with the atmosphere as he is quite a hot horse with so much power that quite easily goes straight out the front door, so it’s about containing that.”
Badminton Horse Trials dressage: veterans frustrate
World number two Jonelle Price will be hoping for a stiff cross-country test with the oldest horse in the field, the 2018 winner Classic Moet after scoring 31.4. They are still within touch of the leaders, although the test was marred by tension. The 19-year-old mare lacked the suppleness of a younger horse, but looked raring to go ahead of cross-country. Jonelle admits this is the grand old campaigner’s weakest phase, and was content to be in the top 15 towards the end of the first day.
“With her it is a little bit ‘sit and suffer’ in this phase I’m afraid, and it’s just about trying to stay as close to the leaders as we possibly can and hopefully we have done that,” she said.
Classic Moet’s fellow veteran, Sarah Bullimore’s 18-year-old Reve Du Rouet, showed age has made him no wiser as he scored a frustrating 34.4. The Balou De Rouet-sired bay has all the potential to put up some superb marks, but he showed his quirky side from the first halt, turning for a look round his left shoulder. Sarah rode him with the utmost tact and the handbrake firmly on, leaving us all wondering what might have been if he had put his best hoof forward throughout.
“He is frightened of crowds, it is frustrating,” she said. “I thought we were through all that, but we’ve had two years of Covid and he needs to be out there being accustomed to the crowds. He was cool as a cucumber in the arena familiarization and the trot-up so I thought maybe he was growing up. It’s disappointing.
“Hopefully he’s up for the cross-country. He doesn’t feel like an 18-year-old – he’s a freak of nature. “
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