Bubby Upton leads after day one of Mars Badminton Horse Trials

British rider Bubby Upton took pole position on day one of the Mars Badminton Horse Trials just nine months after undergoing major spinal surgery.

The 25-year-old leads aboard Cola on a score of 27.3 penalties halfway through the dressage phase.

And it represented a spectacular return to eventing’s elite five-star arena as she put the trials and tribulations from a serious fall last summer well and truly behind her.

“If you had told me in August that I would be here at Badminton, I wouldn’t have believed it after what we have been through,” she said.

“It is very magical. Just being here is a dream come true.

Zara Tindall
Zara Tindall during her dressage test at the Badminton Horse Trials (David Davies/PA)

“When I started riding at the start of the year, I kept falling off at the side and my first jump was very painful.

“But I just kept pushing and never stopped dreaming, and when I am doing what I love, the pain goes away.”

William Fox-Pitt
William Fox-Pitt in action at the Badminton Horse Trials (David Davies/PA)

Further down the leaderboard, 2006 world champion Zara Tindall lies 24th aboard Class Affair, and three-time Badminton champion Pippa Funnell is in 35th place on Majas Hope.

Ros Canter launches her bid to successfully defend the Badminton title – a feat not achieved since Funnell did it in 2003 – on Friday, when other notable starters include British Olympic team gold medallist Laura Collett, an in-form Emily King and New Zealander Tim Price.

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