Badminton, England—May 9
U.S. rider Clark Montgomery swept into a commanding lead aboard Loughan Glen in the closing stages of the second day of dressage at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.
“He felt amazing,” said Montgomery. “I knew he was capable of producing that sort of test, but it’s the first time he’s performed in front of a crowd like that. He loves an atmosphere, and he really perked up in there.”
Riding a supremely accurate test, bursting with pizzazz, Montgomery and Loughan Glen posted a score of 33.3 to leave them 2.5 penalties ahead of yesterday’s leader Paul Tapner of Australia and Kilronan.
“We made two little mistakes—he got a bit stuck in the mud after the extended canter and changed behind, and then became a bit stuck again in one of the shoulder-ins, but otherwise it all went to plan,” said Montgomery, 32.
Tapner, Britain’s Francis Whittington (Easy Target) and Australia’s Lucinda Fredericks (Flying Finish) stayed at the top of the leaderboard and now occupy second, third and fourth places.
Sarah Algotsson Ostholt of Sweden slotted into equal fifth place with a good test aboard the mare, Reality 39, to finish on the same score (40.5) as New Zealand’s Mark Todd and NZB Campino. Todd is also in touch with his second ride, Leonidas II, who lies equal ninth on 41.8.
Two of the favorites for the title, British rider William Fox-Pitt (Parklane Hawk) and New Zealand’s Andrew Nicholson (Nereo), share the seventh spot on 41.
With heavy rain forecast for overnight and the early part of tomorrow, riders are predicting a tough cross-country test.
“It’s going to be a whole new ball game,” said Francis. “As riders we’re not afforded the luxury of disliking the course, so we all have to like it and get on with it—though I’m very glad I’m going early on.”
In light of the anticipated conditions, fence 18B—the second part of the Swindon Designer Outlet Mound—has been removed.
“That particular fence wasn’t in keeping with the rest of the course, which requires bold forward-thinking riding, and with the weather forecast as it is, I think it’s a good decision,” said Tapner.
Montgomery is optimistic about his chances on William and Holly Becker, Kathryn Kraft and Jessica Montgomery’s Loughan Glen.
“My horse is honest. He needs a positive ride, which this course encourages. I’m looking forward to it and hoping for the best,” he said.
Montgomery will have a chance to ride the course first on his other mount, Universe, who stands 45th after dressage. Fellow American Tiana Coudray is in 14th after dressage on 43.7.
The action starts at noon (BST) tomorrow when the first combination, Izzy Taylor and KBIS Briarlands Matilda, will set off.