Huddersfield’s Oliver Townend and compatriot William Fox-Pitt have put themselves in prime position potentially to end Britain’s barren run at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.
While New Zealander Andrew Nicholson preserved his opening day lead on a score of 37.8 penalties aboard Nereo, yesterday’s dressage action ended with Fox-Pitt and Townend breathing down his neck.
Fox-Pitt has won a remarkable 13 four-star titles – but only one Badminton in 2004 – while Yorkshireman Townend was the last British champion six years ago. Since then, it has been an uninterrupted tale of southern hemisphere dominance, but that could change after this weekend’s cross-country and showjumping phases.
Fox-Pitt lies second overnight with Chilli Morning on a score of 39.0, while Townend and Armada are just 0.6 penalties further back in third.
Townend steered Armada to within 0.1 of equalling its four-star personal best for dressage, as the 16-year-old launched his 16th top-flight career event in style.
“Everyone knows Armada and what he can do, and to get it right for once is great,” said Townend, who was Badminton runner-up last year behind Australian Sam Griffiths and Paulank Brockagh.
“I think that is the first time he has gone in at Badminton and behaved.
“It is the first time he has gone into Badminton and felt like he was there to do his job in the dressage. Before, it has been like sitting on eggshells.”