A Mitsubishi Motors Badminton first-timer has been drawn first to go at this year’s horse trials (3-7 May).
Lauren Kieffer, from the United States, will be first into the dressage arena and out on the cross-country course. She is riding the 11-year-old Landmark’s Monte Carlo, who will be tackling his second four-star after finishing 18th at Kentucky last year.
Riders with two horses (which is the maximum number of qualified horses competitors can ride) are drawn at the start and the end of the field, to allow them the most time between their horses.
Lauren has been drawn 99th on her second ride, the highly experienced Veronica.
Oliver Townend, who spoke out publicly last year about the draw, will be ninth to go with either MHS King Joules or Samuel Thomas to choose from. These horses share an entry as Oliver has a third horse entered in ODT Ghareeb, who has been drawn 107th to go, and shares an entry with Samuel Thomas.
In 2016, Oliver said that the draw process was “beyond a joke” as he was drawn as pathfinder at Badminton and Burghley “about four years on the trot” adding “to say it’s a draw is nothing but an insult.” He also asked: “Why not make the draw a public spectacle? This is the biggest event in the world and it would be another exciting part of it.”
For the first time, the draw was streamed live on Badminton’s Facebook page earlier today (18 April).
History has repeated itself for Andrew Nicholson, who has been drawn last to go on Nereo as number 111. He will, undoubtedly, be hoping that history won’t repeat itself performance-wise as he fell after Nereo left a leg coming out of the Gatehouse New Pond in that year. He is number 14 on his other ride Qwanza.
This year some former winners have just one ride entered, which automatically places them closer to the middle of the draw. This can lead to uncertainly regarding which day their dressage test will take place. Ultimately it will depend on how many more withdrawals occur between now and the start of competition.
Germany’s Michael Jung is drawn 38th riding the highly consistent La Biosthetique Sam FBW, with whom he won Badminton in 2016 and clinched the Olympic individual gold medal in Rio.
Paulank Brockagh and Australia’s Sam Griffiths, winners in 2014, will perform their dressage test on Friday after being drawn 90th.
Pippa Funnell, who is a former Rolex Grand Slam winner, has been drawn 67th to go on Billy Beware. The talented gelding finished sixth in 2014, but hasn’t competed at four-star level since.
The popular combination of Gemma Tattersall and Arctic Soul are number 80, while Horse & Hound blogger Danielle Dunn and Zocarla BLH are likely to have a Friday morning dressage having been drawn as number 71. Our wait-listed blogger Kirsty Short and Cossan Lad are 55th.
More Badminton news:
The first Brit to go will be Badminton first-timer Alexander Bragg, who will be third to ride on Zagreb.
Why does the Badminton Horse Trials draw matter?
Anecdotally dressage judges at four-star competitions appear to mark higher on the Friday, although the atmosphere is also greater, which can be an additional challenge for horses to cope with.
Being drawn towards the start of the field also means the horse and rider will be out on the cross-country earlier, typically getting the best of the ground, but then the rider doesn’t have the benefit of watching other riders tackle the course.
The draw doesn’t have an impact on the final showjumping phase as this is jumped in reverse order based on results from the first two phases.