Laura Canter Leads BadmintonHorseTrials 2024 After Dressage on Izilot DHI

Laura Canter and her horse Izilot DHI take the lead at the 2024 MARS Badminton Horse Trials with a dressage score of 25.3 penalties. Canter remains cautious ahead of cross-country day, citing Izilot's inexperience with long courses.

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Laura Canter Leads BadmintonHorseTrials 2024 After Dressage on Izilot DHI

Laura Canter Leads BadmintonHorseTrials 2024 After Dressage on Izilot DHI

Reigning European champion and world number two Laura Canter has taken the lead at the 2024 MARS Badminton Horse Trials in Gloucestershire, England, after an impressive dressage test on her 11-year-old bay gelding, Izilot DHI. The pair scored 25.3 penalties, putting them at the top of the leaderboard ahead of cross-country day.

Canter, who won Badminton in 2023, is aiming to defend her title with Izilot DHI, a rising star in the eventing world. The gelding has already proven his talent, winning at the five-star level in Pau, France, last autumn and the four-star at Blenheim last September. Despite their impressive performance in the dressage phase, Canter remains cautious about their chances of victory.

"Izilot is an exceptionally brave horse so I feel very confident sitting on him, but it's his first time at a big event like this and he won't have seen this length of course before," Canter said. She added, "I know that I am the favorite on statistics, but I also know that my horse is unproven on stamina and endurance on a course like this."

Close behind Canter in second place is Bubby Upton on Cola, just 2 penalties behind with a score of 27.3. Upton made a heroic return to competition seven months ago after recovering from a broken back. Tim Price, a British-based New Zealand Olympian, sits in third place on Vitali with a score of 27.7.

"I never thought I'd be sitting here after dressage," Upton said. "Cola just thrives on the atmosphere and I am so thrilled to be up here with these guys." Price added, "Being here on the podium is a good place to be at this stage and it's going to be fun trying to work my way up the leaderboard."

The cross-country phase, set to take place on Saturday, will see 67 horses tackle the challenging course. With the top riders closely bunched after dressage, cross-country performances will be crucial. The cost of 10 time penalties covers the top 30 riders, meaning every second will count as competitors navigate the demanding terrain and obstacles.

As the leaderboard stands, Canter and Izilot DHI have put themselves in prime position to defend their Badminton title. However, with the unpredictable nature of cross-country and the fierce competition nipping at their heels, the final outcome is far from certain. The stage is set for a thrilling showdown as the world's best event riders and horses vie for glory at the prestigious Badminton Horse Trials.