Oliver Townend takes Badminton cross-country lead after his earlier elimination was removed from the scores

Oliver Townend and Swallow Springs have taken the lead after their Badminton Horse Trials cross-country round, despite them having a very sticky jump over the final part of the HorseQuest Quarry at fence 4ABC, where Oliver almost came unstuck, and for which he was originally eliminated.

“He is athletic isn’t he? I still thought the Quarry was on four [strides] when I jumped over the wall and it felt perfect to get nice and deep to the hedge coming out and he just picked up one stride early – I thought there was plenty of room for a little stride but Andrew’s [Swallow Springs’ former rider Andrew Nicholson] produced the horses to go through the flags, and he definitely did that and I stayed on him,” explained Oliver of his worrying moment.

But Oliver didn’t go back and represent at the fence and carried on, jumping clear, and when he contested his elimination upon completing, his clear round inside the time were re-awarded.

Oliver and Swallow Springs were held for around 30 minutes on course, just before fence 12, following Nicola Wilson’s fall.

“I know for most people getting held at at fence 12, where the two egg boxes are, would be a huge advantage, with only seven minutes of the course to go, but I thought my horse was travelling far better before our hold – I was too big at the egg boxes because I was restarting my watch and stood off a long way from there, which takes the breath out of you a little bit over a big jump like that,” explained Oliver. “And then obviously you’ve got the ski jump next where you hang in the air for another three seconds. I then flung him over the big corners and there’s no real rest, so for me would have been better keeping going rather than having the break, but we had the break and look, the results are good and he’s finished very happy and very within himself.

“I couldn’t have gone any slower on the way home – he was cantering along with his ears forward and I just gave him a little shake before the fences to remind him where we were. He is a good horse but it’s very difficult to go any slower round a five-star once you have that breather.”

Oliver also shared his thoughts on the Badminton Horse Trials cross-country course, saying:

“It’s hard work. It’s fine as it’s in front of you. You need a good horse. I think a lot of horses will get tired – it feels quite warm and there isn’t a lot of breeze in the air, but the good horses I think will go around very nicely and sweetly and make it look easy. And the rest will make it look hard work which is exactly what a five-star should be.”

Badminton Horse Trials cross-country: Jonelle Price and Classic Moet

The 2018 Badminton winners Jonelle Price and Classic Moet jumped clear inside the time to complete the cross-country on their 31.4 dressage. This means that they currently sit in fourth place.

“She gave me a lovely ride and she feels spot on and feel very honoured to have a round like that at Badminton,” said Jonelle. “If I have a time-fault on this horse, I look stupid, and I was 10 seconds down at the nine-minute mark and there’s not many horses that you can put your foot down on at that stage of the course and get such a response.”

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