8 May 2016

Strong cross-country for NZ at Badminton

6:15 pm on 8 May 2016

Three New Zealanders are inside the top 10 places after the cross-country at the Badminton Horse Trials.

Sir Mark Todd and Leonidas II are fourth after finishing clear and inside the time to sit on 44.8 penalty points.

Sir Mark Todd on Leonidas II

Sir Mark Todd on Leonidas II Photo: Photosport

He was pitched out of the saddle at one jump but showed all of his experience in regaining his seat and carrying on without missing a beat.

Right behind him in 5th are Jock Paget and Clifton Lush who looked secure and in synch, and remain on their dressage score of 45.2.

Badminton débutantes Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation lie in sixth on 45.6 having gone clear in what looked to be a relaxed, comfortable round despite picking up 4.8 time penalties.

Jonelle Price and Classic Moet are just outside the top 10 after a quick clear round which was 12 seconds inside the time enabling them to move up from 30th after the dressage to 11th.

Blyth Tait and Bear Necessity were also clear with 4.8 time after taking a lengthy option to sit on 53.3 in 22nd spot, while Jesse Campbell and Kaapachino will forever remember their first Badminton and sit on 76.3 - the combination jumped outside the flags at the Vicarage Vee but went on to easily jump the option.

Germany's Michael Jung looks on track to claim his first Badminton crown and also the Rolex Grand Slam, following victories at Burghley last year and more recently, Kentucky.

He and La Bisothetique Sam FBW head to tomorrow's showjumping with a nine point buffer over fellow countryman Andreas Ostholt and So Is Et.

Seventeen combinations were eliminated after the cross-country including Tim Price on Ringwood Sky Boy and Lucy Jackson on Bosun.

Both came unstuck at the Vicarage Vee (fence 21), which took its toll on 13 combinations - nine of whom finished their Badminton campaigns there.

Megan Heath and St Daniel were eliminated mid-field. Ten retired on course, including Dan Jocelyn aboard Beaucatcher.

With an optimum time of 11 minutes 58 seconds, it was a long and challenging course by Giuseppe Della Chiesa with 45 jumping efforts over 6,500 metres.

Four-time Badminton winner Todd said it was certainly an exciting course.

"He was brilliant all the way around," he said of Leonidas. "I had a couple of lucky moments, especially at the double brush through the hollow where he got in very deep to the second part and screwed, and sent me out the side door but I somehow managed to struggle back in.

"It was big and bold as ever. Some people said it looked a bit softer this year but I think it probably flowed better . . . all the questions were there and particularly through the middle part of the course you had to be right on the ball."

Paget couldn't be happier with the efforts of his small chestnut.