Badminton organisers vowed to take a serious look at the future of the event after hard ground conditions prompted the withdrawal of more than 25% of the field.

Most of the withdrawals were Britons still to secure Olympic qualification, including top riders William Fox-Pitt, Daisy Dick and Zara Phillips. Only two of last year’s World Games GB squad elected to run, and even then not on their top horses. The going elicited a storm of criticism from riders when they arrived on site to find it extremely firm and, in places, rough.

Irish rider Jonty Evans summed up their feelings when he said on Radio Badminton: “This is a case of too little, too late. We expect more of an event at this level.”

Daisy Dick, who withdrew her world silver medallist Spring Along, in part because of a frustrating dressage test, said: “I’m not a person who withdraws — this is Badminton for heaven’s sake — but Spring Along is a horse of a lifetime.”

Event director Hugh Thomas conceded that he had relied too heavily on the weather forecast.
“We produced a course of which I was not proud on Tuesday. These were freak [dry] conditions for which we were not prepared,” he said. “We’ll certainly be looking to make sure this never happens again.”

Read this news story in full in today’s Horse & Hound (10 May, ’07)