THE world famous Badminton Horse Trials, presented by Mars Equestrian, got underway today (Thursday) in South Gloucestershire, England, with Westmeath’s Joseph Murphy the leading Irish rider so far with Cesar V after the opening day of dressage.

Fresh from an impressive top 10 finish last weekend at the five-star Kentucky Horse Trials in the USA, Murphy lies in 17th place on a score of 31.5 with 41 competitors having gone so far.

Tipperary’s Padraig McCarthy and Fallulah are just one place further back in 18th on 31.7 while Galway’s Cathal Daniels is also inside the top 20 with Barrichello on a score of 32.7.

Swallow Springs is the highest-placed Irish Sport Horse in equal fifth place with Oliver Townend (GBR) on a score of 25.7, while another Irish Sport Horse, defending champion Vanir Kamira, is on the same score with Piggy March (GBR).

Joseph Murphy riding Cesar V at the 2022 Badminton Horse Trials \ Badminton Horse Trials

McEwen in command

Britain’s Olympic gold and silver medallist Tom McEwen holds the overnight lead with his Tokyo mount Toledo de Kerser. The pair took an early lead when seventh into the arena, scoring 23.4, which remained unchallenged for the rest of the day.

“It’s a shame he didn’t do that test in Tokyo,” said Tom who took the individual silver medal on that occasion. “He was phenomenal. The half passes were lovely, he was smooth in his body and kept up a great rhythm. It was pretty well mistake free.”

McEwen holds a 1.4-penalty advantage over compatriot Kitty King and Vendredi Biats who scored 24.8 in the second last session of the day. Just one penalty behind and completing a British one-tow-three at the minute is the 2021 Luhmuhlen five-star winners Mollie Summerland and Charly Van Ter Heiden.

The pair scored 24.9. “He means the world to me and just to be here with him is a privilege,” said Summerland. “I’ve found it tough since Luhmuhlen, outing pressure on myself with altered expectations. To be honest I feel a little shell shocked!”

Some 42 combinations will perform their dressage test tomorrow (Friday), starting at 9.30am. All the action is available to watch on Badminton TV (subscription needed).

Tickets for Saturday’s cross-country phase have already sold out, with the new Badminton champion set to be crowned following Sunday’s final show jumping phase.

Click here for live results.