The leader board during day of dressage was as usual an every changing beast. Not surprisingly though nearly all the usual suspects appeared in the top 10 or so. Possibly the biggest upset of the day was the demise of Zara Phillips on her fancied ride ARDFIELD MAGIC STAR who took exception to something during the test and shyed dropping them right down the final list.
He is by all accounts a tricky character at the best of times, and no doubt for the second year running we'll see Zara withdraw before cross country. She still has reasonable chance with the less experienced GLENBUCK so I'm sure she'll start one horse tomorrow.
Generally the place was pretty busy, and Friday is always a good day for shopping and celebrating spotting, and not just the usual equestrian stars of yester year. (there's always plenty of them!)
With less that 5 penalty points separating the top ten the pressure is really on all of these competitors and the perfect time for a "Mark Phillips cross country pep talk" on maintaining focus and not letting the heat get the better of them.
For those who have ever watched Andrew Hoy will know, pressure is just not something he suffers from. Whether leading from the front or playing catch up, he's bound to put in a foot perfect ride.
Bear in mind this year the course is noticeably shorter and there are probably fewer places to make up time even with only 29 fences on the course. Many of the riders have commented on how much there is to do in the middle section of the course down in vicarage fields, but when you stand back and look at this section you can see how a horse going in nice even rhythm will do very well. The biggest accuracy question is actually at the beginning of this section in the shape of the farm yard. From here round to the Shogun Hollow it's generally big spread fences, requiring more commitment than accuracy. By far the trickiest complex on the course is the Blue Cross Round tops that has no doubt had plenty of quizzical looks from this year's competitors and bound to cause a few run outs. I wouldn't be surprised if this fence makes a reappearance in future year's with little alteration.
With good weather forecast it's bound to be a cracking good year to be at Badminton. Take a look at the Badminton Interactive Course - What cool toy for us web savvy folk!