Our countdown series on the Badminton Horse Trials honours continues with a look at the trophy given to the horse who climbs the most places after dressage
The Glentrool Trophy at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (7-10 May this year) is given to the combination “whose final position shows the greatest improvement on their dressage placing”.
Lorna Clarke donated it in 1992 when she retired from competition.
She explained in an interview with Eventing in 2005: “My horse Glentrool was one of the best, if not the very best, cross-country horses I ever had, but I bought him knowing he couldn’t do dressage.
“One year at Badminton he was 72nd after the first phase and he rose 59 places. My parents and I thought this was fantastic, but no one ever remembers who finished 13th.
“The trophy is a quach — a Scottish drinking cup that is passed around at wedding and so on — which seemed appropriate as Glentrool is a Scottish name.”
Glentrool’s rise of 59 places in 1985 certainly represents one of the biggest leaderboard leapfrogs ever seen — in the years since the trophy has been awarded, this has been beaten only twice.
The first time was in 1999, when Ireland’s Austin O’Connor (pictured) and Simply Rhett won the trophy. Austin not only takes the honours for the biggest improvement after dressage — 63 places — but also became best-placed Glentrool winner ever, finishing a remarkable fourth.
Bad weather often tends to trigger a huge shake-up of the leader board, and 1999 was no exception.
“A monsoon… turned the cross-country into a morass and led to mayhem,” wrote Pippa Cuckson in H&H.
Big gains for strong cross-country rounds were further assisted by a new (and now defunct) scoring system used in 1999. It penalised every second over the optimum time with one time-penalty (rather than today’s 0.4 of a penalty) and every stop with 40 penalties (rather than 20).
Over last year’s tough cross-country, the Netherlands’ Merel Blom moved up 56 places with Rumour Has It to finish 13th and take the trophy.
Harry Meade and the late Wild Lone won the trophy twice, in 2011 and 2013, before going on to finish third at Badminton in 2014. Their result offers hope to all Glentrool Trophy winners that with improvement in their dressage and the right combination of factors coming into play in the competition, a top placing really could be within their grasp one day.