Mary King and King William were outstanding, almost foot perfect for their best score, 31.6. It is unlikely to be beaten, and without the responsibility of riding as a team, she can attack the cross-country course tomorrow without inhibition. She will be chased by the American David O'Connor, who rides the talented Custom Made, and by Andrew Nicholson on the Burghley winner Buckley Province.
Chris Hunnable, until yesterday a reserve rider, rose to the occasion when Mr Bootsie proved the hard work under trainer Chris Bartle worthwhile. Two years ago they were last in the dressage at Badminton, but yesterday looked a different picture, scoring just 49.4 penalties.
The Australians, with an impressive blend of dash, skill and pure guts, galloped to a 61-point lead in the team event after the speed and endurance test yesterday. Only sixth after the dressage, they overhauled the leaders, the United States, and left their rivals New Zealand in third followed by France and Ireland with the British team a disappointing sixth.
Britain's pathfinder, Ian Stark, was improving all the time on Stanwick Ghost when the grey missed his footing coming out of the first water. It was then impossible to jump the rails which followed and he put his feet in the ditch, pitching Stark over the fence. The pair continued and the following riders were able to benefit from his advice.
William Fox-Pitt, however, had an unfortunate refusal at the awkward Indian Pallisade bounce and later lost time when Cosmopolitan slipped up on the flat before the Olympic Rings.
Gary Parsonage justified his selection with a good steady clear round on Magic Rogue, and Karen Dixon followed with a more adventurous clear round
It was their speed, fitness, courage and indomitable attitude that won the day for the Australians. Only the Frenchman Jacques Dulcy, on Upont, completed the testing course inside the minimum 10 minutes - a feat most riders said was impossible on such a twisting, hilly and slippery course. But three of the Australian team, including Wendy Schaeffer, who broke her leg in two places only two months ago, all proved faster than the rest, with the experienced Andrew Hoy, on Darien Powers, the quickest.
The team's only setback came when Gillian Rolton and Peppermint Grove slipped up on the flat going to fence 13, the second water complex.
This type of mistake is not penalised, but the horse appeared unsettled and subsequently fell, for 60 penalties, as he attempted to jump the first element of the complex. Rolton gamely completed the course to keep the team in the hunt. She was later found to have broken her collarbone and two ribs and may not ride today in the showjumping.Reuse content