Swallow Springs if flying high at Badminton – Friday 5th May

For Immediate release 5th May 2023 @ 1800

Swallow Springs is flying high.

Oliver Townend looks to have the best chance of becoming the first rider to finish first and second at Badminton since Ian Stark way back in 1988. He is heading the leaderboard after the first of dressage at the 2023 Badminton Horse Trials, presented by Mars Equestrian, on Paul and Diana Ridgeon’s Swallow Springs.
“I’ve worn the video out,” joked Oliver, who was only four years old when Ian achieved this feat. “I’m hoping that one horse goes in front of Swallow Springs tomorrow and that’s my other one [second ride Ballaghmor Class]. I don’t think dressage is going to be the big story this weekend, but it’s a nice start.”
Last year Oliver finished third and fifth with the two greys, two of the most consistent five-star horses in the world.
The Ground Jury (Angela Tucker, GBR, president, Andrew Bennie, NZL and Xavier Le Sauce, FRA) awarded him the excellent score of 23.2 penalties, but Gemma Stevens (nee Tattersall) is only a hairsbreadth behind (on 23.3) on a mare that has Badminton winner stamped all over her pedigree. Gemma, 38, rides Christopher Stone’s chestnut mare Jalapeno, a daughter of the 2015 winning horse Chilli Morning.
“She gave me a fantastic feeling in the dressage,” said Gemma. “I’ve been here for so many years with Arctic Soul, who struggled in the dressage [they were fourth in 2018], and I really enjoyed this. Jalapeno felt lovely and soft. She’s a brave horse and a blood horse so I’m going all out on Sunday to give it my best.”
The world number one, Tim Price, 44, has a Badminton-shaped hole in his CV, but he has two good chances of rectifying this omission. The New Zealander is currently lying in third place on first ride Jean-Louis Staffer’s Vitali on a score of 27.1, and has his Maryland five-star winner Coup de Coeur Dedevin as the very last horse into the arena tomorrow. 
“I believe in him,” said Tim. “I think he is a classic five-star horse and I am hoping that he will get it all together all on the one day, as he is an incredible dressage and cross-country horse who just has a bit of a weakness in the show jumping phase.”
Another experienced Kiwi, Caroline Powell, is in fourth place on the 10-year-old mare Greenacres Special Cavalier, one of the youngest horses in the field. Burghley 2022 runners-up Tom Jackson and Capels Hollow Drift have made a good start and are in fifth place on 28.0 penalties, just ahead of one of Badminton’s most local riders, Harry Meade (Away Cruising), sixth.
Greta Mason, who is trained by the 1991 Badminton winner Rodney Powell, is best of the 13 first-timers. She is lying in 16th place at the half-way mark with Cooley For Sure on 31.6 penalties.
Riders have been assessing Eric Winter’s cross-country course. “I like it,” said Oliver. “I think it’s a genuine five-star track where you’ve got to sit on your backside and ride. there are no tricks.”
Dressage starts earlier tomorrow, at 8am, in order to factor in a break for everyone to watch the coronation of Charles lll and Queen Camilla, and a flurry of high marking is expected for the likes of Tom McEwen (Toledo de Kerser), Kitty King (Toledo de Kerser), Emily King (Valmy Biats), Bubby Upton (Cola) and last year’s winner, Laura Collett (Dacapo).
Full results here 
Caption: Oliver Townend and Swallow Springs are in perfect harmony to score 23.2 and take the lead after the first day of dressage at Badminton Horse Trials, presented by Mars Equestrian. (Credit: Kit Houghton)short,

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