Harry Meade was the star of the show as the cross-country phase took centre stage at the Badminton Horse Trials – the British eventer continuing his remarkable comeback from career-threatening injuries.
It was thought that Meade would never ride again when a fall at last year’s Wellington Horse Trials left him with two shattered elbows.
But nine months on and the 30-year-old was one of only 35 competitors to make it round the cross-country course as the wet and windy conditions and soft ground took their toll.
Meade had started the day in equal 46th position but ended in eighth after making the most of an early start.
Overnight leader Clark Montgomery of the USA failed to finish – as did Mary King, Andrew Nicholson and Brit Francis Whittington who was lying third after the dressage.
It all means that Paul Tapner will lead going into Sunday’s show-jumping, with Oliver Townend the leading British rider in fourth and Pippa Funnell is sixth.
However all eyes were on Meade – son of three-time Olympic gold medallist Richard Meade – and he himself was left to toast a job well done.
"I had a wonderful ride,” he said. “He [Wild Lone] is a super cross-country horse.
"I said to my wife this morning - she was very nervous and knew the course might cause problems - that this is what I love doing and these are the conditions you look forward to.
"I have had the horse since he was a four-year-old and we know each other like old friends. It was a case of getting on him and getting the job done.
"I was excited in the start box. I knew how much pressure I had put on myself to come back for this. This is what it was all about.
"It was a feeling of nervousness and feeling a bit sick, but at the same time reminding myself that this is what I do. I wouldn't swap this for the world.
"It was seat of your pants kind of stuff. It was just a case of sticking to your plan and getting on with it.
"To be back at Badminton was my big target. When someone tells you that your career is over, it makes you look at things in a very different light.
"I didn't discuss my aims with too many people, but I think that the few who knew didn't believe I was serious.
"My father thought I was in denial that my career was over. When I said I planned to compete at Badminton he assumed it was part of a grieving process.
"When you get a second chance, you don't take things for granted. I have been determined to enjoy Badminton, especially having thought it was never going to happen again."
© Sportsbeat 2014