Twenty-six-year-old Virginia (Ginny) Thompson is having to pinch herself that she is in the UK ready to compete at her first ever Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.

“I’m trying not to think about it too much at the moment, but I’m so excited,” laughs the New Zealander. “The first time I hacked my horse here, it was totally surreal — I couldn’t believe I was riding her in the UK and I honestly believe I am living the dream.”

The horse Ginny is referring to is 14-year-old mare, Star Nouveau, or Paige as she is known at home. They have been together for the past six years and have moved up from one-star, culminating in eighth place in the four-star at Adelaide last November.

Ginny has done small stints in the UK before, working for Pippa Funnell for a couple of months and Mark Todd for a month on two separate occasions a few years ago, but this time she is here for the next two years. She moved into Blyth Tait’s Gloucestershire base on 12 April, and her boyfriend, a former dairy farmer, is on his way over to join her. Paige is currently her only horse.

“I’m here for a while to learn. We’ve done everything we can in the Southern Hemisphere,” says Ginny, who had a yard of around 10 horses back at home. “I’ve sold everything and now I’m here to re-group and re-start — it’s exciting but pretty daunting too! Blyth is fabulous — so generous and full of advice.”

Ginny says that Paige is “pretty gorgeous.”

“She’s not a sassy mare and is a divine, cuddly sweetheart. We’ve learnt everything together.”

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This Kiwi has never visited Badminton before, but has watched plenty of videos.

“We also used to stay up all night at home and watch it online,” she admits. “I really want to finish on a solid score. I know we’re not world champions just yet, but I want to nail the cross-country as that is Paige’s strength and then I want to come back next year and be more competitive.”

Read the full Badminton preview in this week’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine (26 April 2018)

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