Our Badminton Horse Trials build-up rolls on as we find out about a new trophy, given for the first time in 2014
The William Miflin Memorial Trophy at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (7-10 May this year) goes to “the rider with no cross-country penalties and closest to the optimum time”.
The trophy was given by Sara Miflin, in memory of her husband William, a popular rider and trainer who died in March 2013 at the age of 44 after suffering from cancer for several years.
“He completed Badminton five times on Passadena II and he was a local lad who was brought up just 15 minutes up the road from Badminton,” explains Sara. “He always joked he liked to ride at all the local events — Badminton, Gatcombe — but Badminton was always the pinnacle of what he wanted to do.
“I thought it would be lovely to have something in his name for the children [Tom, nine, and Georgia, 11]. They never knew him when he was competing and they aren’t really old enough yet to appreciate what he did, but this will help to give them a lifetime memory of him. When they get older they can tell their children that’s what their grandfather did.”
Sara worked with Denzil Vellacott from the Cirencester jewellers Walter Bull & Son on the making of the trophy — she wanted something different to the other trophies at Badminton. She also had a solid oak base made for it, as William loved wood, particularly oak, and one of his hobbies was wood-turning.
A hundred oak trees have also been planted across the country in his memory and Sara has a book where everyone who took one to plant wrote where it would be sited.
The idea of giving the trophy for the best cross-country performance grew out of the fact William and Passadena II were particularly known as a cross-country combination.
“He was a fantastic little horse who was really good at getting the time — one year William won the watch at Burghley for being closest to the optimum,” says Sara. “I also wanted the trophy to have a good chance of going to someone who wasn’t the winner or taking home another trophy, to give another person the chance to win something.”
Last year, the trophy went to New Zealand’s Tim Price and Ringwood Sky Boy (pictured), who finished with 11.6 time-faults, the fastest round over a tough course.
Sara says that after the trophy was awarded Tim found himself surrounded by people and officials and was initially worried he was in trouble. But the group wanted to take the trophy to The Outside Chance bar by Badminton’s Lake, fill it with champagne and drink William’s health out of it.
“It’s a massive honour to have the trophy at Badminton and I’m very grateful to Hugh [Thomas, event director] for letting us do it — really it’s all about the children and giving them a memory of their father,” she concludes.