Former champion Paul Tapner leads the field in the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials overnight, after the first day of dressage.

Tapner, who represents Australia but is based near Faringdon, produced the best test of the day with a score 36 riding Kilronan, just 0.2 of a penalty ahead of Francis Whittington, who took Easy Target into the lead for the lunchtime break.

Said Paul: “Kilronan had been turning in tests in the 30s at 3* level, but for a couple of seasons I’d been scratching my head about why we couldn’t replicate this at 4*. I spent time analysing every step and working out where we were losing marks, and I was really pleased with my test today.”

Visitors to the Duke of Beaufort’s Estate are hoping that conditions will improve for the second day of dressage, as conditions were made difficult today by relentless drizzle and some strong winds. Dressage begins in the main aren tomorrow at 9.20am, with plenty of action from many of eventing’s biggest stars, including William Fox-Pitt, Mary King and Andrew Nicholson, as well as local representatives Nick Gauntlett, who hails from Chipping Sodbury, Luckington’s Harry Meade and Dani Evans, the 22-year-old rider from Woolard, near Bath, who is making her debut at the world famous horse trials..

Results after Day 1: 1 – Paul Tapner (AUS) - Kilronan (36.0) 2 – Francis Whittington - Easy Target (36.2) 3 ¬– Lucinda Fredericks - Flying Finish (39.0) 4 – Mark Todd - NZB Campino (40.5) 5 – Pippa Funnell - Billy Beware (42.3)