Another beautiful morning at Badminton with plenty of sunshine and barely a breeze.  The main arena is a scary space when it’s wet and windy although it is doubtful that Grappa Nera (Grape) is actually scared of anything!  Jonelle has done allot of riding in the last few days and Grape was looking pretty special in the final warm up.  She entered the main arena, decided that the crowd was there just for her and sauntered around it like she owned it.

There were some super movements and some that showed some tension and as Jonelle said afterwards, two changes out of four that don’t score is expensive.  However, there was no drama and no histrionics and considering Grape hasn’t seen a main arena since Pau in 2022 she did some great work.  A score of 34.4 is not one that Jonelle is particularly proud of but for early in the season it sure is no disgrace!  Sh sits in equal 22nd at the end of the day.

A couple of hours later and it was Vitali’s turn and he can turn on the pizazz like a tap.  One minute you look across and he’s just a little black horse trotting around and the next moment he has turned into a dressage power house.  He warmed up well and went into the arena looking confident and then the announcer started to talk about his record breaking test at Burghley last autumn when he scored an 18.  Not always so helpful to remind the judges that nothing short of spectacular was to be expected!

He did an amazing medium and then managed to produce even more for the extended but the nines were not flying out of the judges boxes and the eventual score of 27.7 was just 2.4 marks off the current leader (Ros Canter) which is still pretty damn cool.  As Tim reflected, Burghley is a different atmosphere and being much later in the season generally produces more fluent tests but the trouble with breaking records is that anything less feels like a disappointment!  He retained his third placing after his test until the end of the day so was called to the press conference that followed the final days dressage.

Both Vitali and Grape looked spectacular thanks to the the efforts of Rosie and Kerryn who did them proud and now its time to pack away the dressage saddles and get serious with the cross country phase to come tomorrow.  It’s a big old track out there and time is surely going to be influential so plenty still to play for and with tacky ground and the sun shining it will be a proper endurance test.