Brits on fire as Badminton Horse Trials make triumphant return

Laura Collett enjoys her victory lap on London 52 after winning the Badminton Horse Trials at the weekend. Badminton Horse Trials

Seven British riders claimed eight of the top 10 places at the famous Badminton Horse Trials at the weekend, with Laura Collett realizing a childhood dream to take the prize on London 52.

After a gap of three years, support for the event was huge. Some 180,000 visitors attended over the four days, and the many trade stands did a roaring trade.

British rider Nicola Wilson, who had been 13th going into the cross-country phase, is recovering in hospital after a fall from JL Dublin at the 27th obstacle on the course, just six fences from home. Wilson sustained several spinal fractures but will not require surgery. British Equestrian said that Wilson is breathing on her own, and able to talk. She did not sustain a head injury, but other issues arising from the trauma are being managed in intensive care by the specialists at Southmead Hospital in Bristol. JL Dublin appears to be uninjured, and was home at Wilson’s Yorkshire base.

There were 50 clear rounds from the 80 cross-country starters, many of them first-timers, but the day got off to a dramatic start. Tom McEwen and Toledo de Kerser, the dressage runners-up, were going brilliantly when they tipped over the second element of the bounce at fence 24. Pippa Funnell (Billy Walk On) and Mollie Summerland, fourth after dressage on Charly Van Der Heiden, retired after stops at fence 17.

The top seven finishers were all British, with a clean sweep of the top 10 prevented by Ireland’s Austin O’Connor, who was eighth on Colorado Blue, and US rider Tamra Smith, who was ninth on Mi Baum in her first Badminton attempt. They were clear on the cross-country, as was fellow first-timer Amanda Pottinger (New Zealand) riding Just Kidding who notched up several times penalties after

New Zealand’s Jonelle Price and 2018 winner Classic Moet, 19, dropped two jumping rails in the final phase to drop them from sixth place to 11th overall, and Britain’s Richard Jones and Alfie’s Clover improved from 52nd after dressage to finish 10th.

Laura Collett and London 52 led from the outset, putting up a score of 21 in the dressage phase and adding just .4 of a time fault in the final jumping phase to head off Ros Canter and five-star first-timer Lordships Graffalo on 26 They were the only combination to finish on their dressage score, and the total is a record for Badminton.

Collett was full of praise for London 52, a 13-year-old owned by Karen Bartlett and Keith Scott. “This horse owes me nothing. He’s given me my first five-star win [at Pau in 2020] and an Olympic gold medal, and this was the biggest, most intense course he has ever seen, ”she said after the cross-country.

Oliver Townend cemented his world No.1 position with third and fifth places on Swallow Springs and Ballaghmor Class respectively, each of his greys hitting a fence apiece. Townend performed a heroic save worthy of Andrew Nicholson, Swallow Springs’ former rider, when the gray took off early at the last element of the Quarry, fence 4. Townendwas initially eliminated at the end of his round but then reinstated when the footage was examined. . “I kicked for one more stride, but then he picked up, which I didn’t expect!”

It was the first British one-two-three since Pippa Funnell led William Fox-Pitt and Leslie Law 20 years ago in 2002, and Collett revealed that Funnell’s win on Supreme Rock had been her childhood inspiration. “I was going around the cross-country on my aunt’s shoulders and I wanted to be Pippa Funnell winning Badminton,” she said.

Piggy March and the gallant 17-year-old mare Vanir Kamira, the 2019 Badminton winners who set the early standard on the cross-country, finished an honorable fourth with just one pole down.

David Doel, who lives just 20 minutes down the road, had a dream debut, finishing in sixth place on Galileo Nieuwmoed with a double clear, and Kitty King, a member of last year’s winning European championships team, was seventh on Vendredi Biats.

Ireland's Austin O'Connor was eighth at Badminton on Colorado Blue.  © Irish Eventing Times / HSI
Ireland’s Austin O’Connor was eighth at Badminton on Colorado Blue. © Irish Eventing Times / HSI

It was an impressive showing overall from Irish Sport Horses, who filled three of the top five places; there were five in the top 10. They are:

3rd – Swallow Springs [ISH] – 2008 gelding by Chillout (ISH) out of Kilila (ISH)[TIH] by Cult Hero (TB). Breeder: Maria Keating (Galway).
4th – Vanir Kamira (ISH) – 2005 mare by Camiro De Haar Z (ZANG) out of Fair Caledonian (WNTR) by Dixi (TB). Breeder: Kathryn Jackson (Monaghan).
5th – Ballaghmor Class (ISH) – 2007 gelding Courage II (HOLST) out of Kilderry Place (ISH). Breeder: Noel Hickey (Limerick).
8th – Colorado Blue (SHBGB) 2009 gelding by Jaguar Mail (SF) out of Rock Me Baby (AES), by Rock King (WNTR). Breeder: Mellon Stud / Kate Jarvey, (Limerick).
10th Alfies Clover (ISH) – 2007 gelding by Tajraasi (TB) out of Aoifes Clover (P) (ISH)[TIH] by Clover Hill (ID). Breeder: James Hickey, (Co. Waterford).

Other awards at Badminton

New Zealand eventer Andrew Nicholson, who recently stepped down from competing at five-star level, was awarded a photo montage by Princess Anne, The Princess Royal. Nicholson completed Badminton a record 38 times.

Hugh Thomas was presented with a Daniel Crane painting, in acknowledgment of his 30 years as Event Director.

Andrew Ransford from Hi Ho Silver made a presentation to the best-dressed lady and best-dressed man from the first horse inspection; The winners were Laura Collett and Karl Slezak (CAN).

The Treehouse Sporting Colors groom’s award, chosen by Stable Manager Margaret Hopkins, went to Li Ann Kirrcheim, groom to German rider Christopher Wahler.

Other prizes:

Butler Bowl ~ for the highest placed British rider: Laura Collett

Laurence Rook Trophy ~ Best British rider not previously completed Badminton: David Doel

Worshipful Company of Saddlers saddle Ider Rider with the best score who is under 25 on 1/1/23 and who has not previously won a Company saddle in the calendar year: Alice Casburn

Glentrool Trophy ~ Horse & Rider who have made the greatest improvement on their dressing placing: Alice Casburn & Topspin, who moved up from 71st place to 19th.

Frank Weldon Memorial Trophy ~ Rider of youngest British owned and ridden horse in top 12: Ros Canter for 10-year-old Lordships Graffalo

Cotswold Life Trophy Rid Local rider’s trophy: David Doel

The William Miflin Memorial Trophy ~ To the rider of the horse with no cross-country jumping penalties and closest to optimum time: Oliver Townend for Ballaghmor Class

Sport Horse Breeding of Great Britain ~ Owner of best horse sired by a SHB (GB) Graded Stallion or Premium Stallion, provided it is in the top 12: Michelle & Archie Saul for Lordships Graffalo

The British Horse Foundation £ 1000 The Breeder of the highest placed British bred horse, provided it finished in the top 12: Lordships Stud for Lordships Graffalo

Farriers Prize ~ Plaque to the owner and farrier of the best shod horse: Jim Blurton for Oliver Townend and Paul & Diana Ridgeon with the horse Swallow Springs

Stud Voucher £ 500 ~ owner of the highest placed British owned mare: Trevor Dickens for Vanir Kamira

Mars Equestrian and Spillers prize ~ Groom of winner: Tilly Hughes for London 52

Mark Holliday Memorial Trophy ~ Groom of winner: Tilly Hughes for London 52

David Beaufort Memorial Trophy ~ to the person who has contributed to the running of the Horse Trials over many years: Bernie Tidmarsh, farrier at Badminton for over 30 years

Embryo Transfer or OPU session ~ to the highest placed British bred or domiciled mare to be in the top 20%, courtesy of Tomlinson Equine: Vanir Kamira

Breeder of the winner Cke Ocke Riewerts for London 52

Armada Dishes: Ben Hobday, Oliver Townend, Chris Burton

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