The pathfinder for Team GBR was Pippa Funnell, who put in a phenomenal performance on her own and Marek Sebestak’s Majas Hope – coming home with nothing to add to her dressage score of 35.4 means she now sits 21st on the leader board. She said afterwards: “[Majas Hope] is an absolute machine. I have to thank his owner Marek Sebestak. I knew the importance of being the first out, but once you get out there that goes because you’re so focused on doing your job – watching the clock and making sure you don’t make silly errors.”
Second out was 2019 Badminton winner Piggy French on Jayne McGivern’s Quarrycrest Echo. She followed Pippa’s lead by notching up another penalty-free result, so stays on 29.8 in ninth place. She commented afterwards: “When you’re riding for your country, you want to do the best you can. I feel so lucky to be on a team with Pippa [Funnell] and Tina [Cook]. I joke with them that they were my heroes growing up, but they’re such great friends now. I have so much respect for them and it’s such an honour to be with these sporting legends.”
Laura Collett is competing here as an individual on her own, Karen Bartlett, Keith Scott’s London 52. Sitting in bronze medal position after the dressage phase, they were performing well until an unfortunate fall at the final element of fence 20 ended their championship campaign. Both horse and rider walked away unhurt. “He just got a bit confused with so many twists and turns at that point and he didn’t stand a chance,” Laura said. “I know he’s a superstar – he’s never seen a track like this and he’s got a great future ahead of him.”
Next up for Team GBR was team rider Tina Cook on Elisabeth Murdoch’s Billy The Red. Unfortunately they ran past the final brush at fence 12 and picked up 20 jumping penalties. This necessitated taking a long route, which also added 15.6 time penalties to their dressage score, and they now sit in 47th on 63.9. Tina said: “I’m obviously very disappointed. I wanted to complete, but that [run-out] automatically puts you behind the time so I needed to get round faultless from there on.”
Individual rider Kitty King put in an impressive performance on Diana Bown, Sally Eyre, Samantha Wilson and Sally Lloyd-Baker’s Vendredi Biats. She added just 2.4 time penalties to her dressage score and sits tenth on 30.3. Commenting on Vendredi Biats’ performance, she said: “He felt great, a bit hairy in places but that’s to be expected. He kept jumping and looking for the flags. I watched the first few go and wasn’t feeling overly confident – but then I watched the rest of the team go round and they gave me a good boost.”
The team’s anchor rider Oliver Townend was under pressure to perform – only a clear round inside the 10 minutes and 10 seconds time allowance would be enough to keep the team in silver medal position. However, he and Angela Hislop’s Cooley Master Class kept their cool to add another faultless round to the Team GBR scorecard. He blew the crowd a kiss as he crossed the finishing line, and said afterwards: “You gallop round the course, and you see the people waving the Union flags. You don’t know them from Adam and yet they make the effort to come out here and support us. You hear your name being shouted and that’s a special feeling.” He and Cooley Master Class remain on their dressage score of 27.6 and rise to fifth place overnight.
The second horse inspection begins at 0800BST on Sunday, followed by the final showjumping phase at 1000BST.