Maryland Five Star first timer Piggy March (GBR) and five-star first timer Brookefield Cavalier Cruise are taking the sites and leaderboard in stride in Elkton.

The pair marched into the lead on Thursday with a clean test and 24.2 score from the judges.

It’s nearly three points better than their 27.0 6RA average (an Equiratings metric based on their last six international dressage scores), but three points off the 21.1 finish countryman Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class delivered at the inaugural Maryland 5* in 2021.

“This is his first five-star test, obviously, that he’s even ran through or ever done. So, you know, obviously I’m absolutely delighted,” said March, the current world no. 13.

“There will still be more to come from him; he’s a large horse with a great big frame. He will over the next few years—he’s an Irish boy—he will still keep filling and developing and building his core strength. He’s got the most unbelievable brain and he’s just so charming to work with, so he’s like ‘alright mom, I’ll try!’”

March and the 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding were the Equiratings favorites heading into Maryland with a 29% win chance and 52% top 3 chance.

Thirteen more combinations come forward on Friday. Most likely to shake up the leaderboard, according to the prediction center: world no. 1 Oliver Townend on Cooley Rosalent (GBR), Olympians William Fox-Pitt with Grafennacht (GBR) and Caroline Powell with Greenacres Special Cavalier (NZL), rising star Jacob Fletcher (USA) with Fabian and world no. 3 Boyd Martin and Contessa (USA).

New Zealand’s Monica Spencer and Artist sit in second overnight on 28.4. USA’s Hannah Sue Hollberg and Capitol H I M are third on 32.4.