We start a new countdown series on the Badminton Horse Trials honours by speaking to the sculptor of the Mitsubishi Motors Trophy

The winner of this year’s Badminton Horse Trials (7-10 May this year) will receive the Mitsubishi Motors Trophy. You may well be familiar with beautiful, solid silver three-horse prize, but do you know the story behind it?

The trophy was created by Wiltshire-based sculptor Judy Boyt and was first given in 1992, the first year of Mitsubishi’s title sponsorship.

“When we knew there were going to be new sponsors, the event’s then press office Jim Gilmore asked if I’d be interested in putting something forward,” explains Judy. “He liked the idea of having something bespoke.

“I designed it in an interview at Mitsubishi’s offices in Cirencester and drew it out on the table. I’m keen on the idea of good numbers and in Japan three is a positive number. Also, Mitsubishi’s logo is three diamonds and Badminton is a three-day event, so that’s how it evolved. I thought it would be a shame to pick just one horse for an event with three disciplines.”

The three horses on the trophy were based on real equinesKing’s Jester for the dressage, Murphy Himself for the cross-country and King William for the showjumping. By chance, Mary King and King William were the first pair to win the trophy.

Judy’s involvement did not end once the trophy was made. Unusually for a trophy of such value, the winners are allowed to take it away with them, even abroad. But Judy gets it back each year before the event, polishes it and checks all is in order.

Judy also makes the two bronze resin replica trophies, which are given to the winning owner and rider to keep. And each year the top 12 riders at Badminton are given a small bronze resin replica of one of the horses on the trophy; Judy creates these too.

This year she will also make a new base for the main trophy, as more space is needed for winners’ plaques.

The sculptor “goes backstage” at Badminton on the Sunday of the event and helps assistant director Jane Tuckwell with wrapping trophies and “making sure everything is in the right place”.

“I arrive armed with everything — dusters, tape — you wouldn’t want a smudge on the trophy,” she says. “The main trophy has to be wrapped in acid-free tissue or it would tarnish.”

The trophy is on display during the event and Judy says she sometimes sneaks up and listens to the public commenting on it.

“You hear children saying they want to win it one day,” she says. “And the stirrup on the dressage horse moves, which fascinates people.”

Read more about the making of the replica trophies in tomorrow’s issue of H&H, dated Thursday, 30 April 2015