Tim Price, the world number two in eventing, marked his 50th start at five-star level by taking an early dressage lead at the Chedington Bicton Park 5* Horse Trials in Devon. He scored 26.7 on Ringwood Sky Boy, at 18 the oldest horse in the field, to lead proceedings at the lunch break.

“I’m super proud of him, especially as he’s not really a dressage horse,” said the New Zealand Olympian of his 2018 Burghley winner. “He’s a credit to himself and he doesn’t owe us anything now.”

Two vastly experienced British riders, both multiple five-star winners, are in second and third places at this stage. William Fox-Pitt is just 0.3 behind Tim in second place on Oratorio with a mark of 27.0 and Pippa Funnell is third on Majas Hope with 27.4.

Gemma Tattersall, fourth before lunch, was overcome by emotion after her test on Chilli Knight, a son of William’s 2015 Badminton winner, Chilli Morning. “I produced this horse myself from the beginning and it’s as if he’s saying ‘Mummy, I’m doing my best’,” she explained tearfully.

Gemma is tipped by data analysts EquiRratings as a favourite to win her first CCI5*, and her chestnut gelding, placed at Bicton in June, has proved that he can cope with the cambers of the undulating cross-country course here. “He’s confident, he’s easy to go fast on and he’s amazing at measuring his fences.”

The beautiful grass arena at Bicton provides perfect viewing and international atmosphere. Newly crowned Olympic gold medallist Oliver Townend, who will wrap up the afternoon is last to go on his second horse, Tregilder, congratulated the Bicton Arena team for putting on a CCI5* at short notice. “I can’t take off my hat enough to the team here,” he said. “They have done a fantastic job. I am blown away by the presentation and the ground is A-one. It’s a proper five-star.”

Follow live results on www.eventingscores.co.uk. Gate admission is available for tomorrow’s cross-country (www.bicton-arena.co.uk) and the action will be livestreamed on Horse & Country (https://horseandcountry.tv/pay-per-view/eliteeventing).

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