Jonelle Price has rocketed from 22nd place after the dressage to take the lead at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials with the fastest cross-country round of the day.
Jonelle finished just one second over the optimum despite a heart-stopping moment in the Lake (fence 9abc) when Classic Moet got too close to the brush and twisted in the air.
“I was a bit rusty and too strong – it was my fault – so we had to abort,” said Jonelle, who had time off last year after having her first child, Otis. “I had been up on the clock until then and we were then 12-15 seconds down, so as soon as we were through the Shogun Hollow, I thought ‘Let’s go’.
“She’s some mare, so un-special that she’s special, and she makes me look good. When I first got her, as a 10-year-old, I didn’t think she had enough scope, but she’s your best friend.”
Dressage leader Oliver Townend finished on an equal score of 28, but was further away from the optimum time, to drop down into second place.
Ballaghmor Class looked tired towards the end of the course and Oliver had to drive him home. As a result they incurred a costly 7.2 time penalties.
Oliver is also fifth on Cooley SRS, which leaves him in a strong position in his bid to become the third rider to secure the Rolex Grand Slam.
“Two horses in the top five is pretty good,” said Oliver. “I’ve had both these horses from four-year-olds and it’s taken a long time to get them here, but I’m glad they have turned out as talented as I thought they would.”
Ros Canter and Allstar B are third on a score of 30.3, following a brilliant round.
“This was probably the first time he’s had to really dig deep,” said Ros. “Last year [when they finished fifth] I had a dream ride and everything happened really easily. Today he was more tired than he had been before, but he still dug deep.
Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW are within striking distance of the leaders in fourth place on a score of 30.7.
Mark Todd has two horses in the top 10, with Kiltubrid Rhapsody in sixth place and Leonidas II in 10th. America’s Lauren Kieffer lies seventh with Veronica and Gemma Tattersall (Arctic Soul) is eighth.
With just 2.7 penalties between the top four riders the stage is set for a thrilling climax in tomorrow’s showjumping phase.