Laura Collett lauds ‘unbelievable’ strength of GB eventing after Badminton win

Newly-crowned Badminton champion Laura Collett has hailed Britain’s “unbelievable” eventing strength after another spectacular performance.

British riders, led by Collett and London 52, filled the top seven places and collected £ 281,000 in prize money between them.

It was the first time since Pippa Funnell, William Fox-Pitt and Leslie Law in 2002 that Britain achieved a podium clean sweep at Badminton.

For Collett and third-placed Oliver Townend it continued an outstanding run of success highlighted by them winning Olympic team gold alongside Tom McEwen in Tokyo last summer.

In addition to that triumph – a first Olympic eventing team title for 49 years – McEwen won individual silver.

And Ros Canter, the Badminton runner-up, is the reigning world champion, claiming that crown four years ago, when Britain also took team honors.

North Yorkshire-based Nicola Wilson, meanwhile, collected her first European individual title in Switzerland last year.

And Wilson also spearheaded European team success after the British selectors chose an entirely different team from Tokyo.

The major aim this year is the World Championship in Italy in September, and although Collett’s Badminton success suggests she might already have secured a team spot, a fierce battle for places lies ahead.

“The British team is unbelievable at the moment,” she said.

“We just seem to be upping the game, and it is keeping us all on our toes, that is for sure.

Laura Collett and London 52 in showjumping action at Badminton Horse Trials (Steve Parsons / PA)

“We all like a challenge, and here is the next challenge of trying to get to the World Championship.”

Gloucestershire rider Collett was among the pre-event favorites for Badminton, but few people anticipated such a dominant display across the disciplines of dressage, cross-country and showjumping.

Collett and London 52 led from start to finish, securing a winning margin of 4.6 penalties, which in eventing terms is a good furlong clear of the field. Her final 21.4 score was a Badminton record.

“He is a horse of a lifetime,” Collett added. “He has done so much for me, and I am the luckiest girl in the world to be sat on a horse like him.

“He just gets better and better, and the most exciting thing is that he is still young enough to come back and do it all again, hopefully.

“I told myself from Tokyo that I was just going to enjoy the horse for what he is. He is phenomenal, and he owes me absolutely nothing.

“I can’t really sum it all up – I have had a whirlwind 18 months.

“From winning my first five-star competition in Pau to going to Tokyo and winning an Olympic gold medal, then to winning my first Badminton. There are no words. “

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