The Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials for many is the pinnacle of eventing, the jewel in the crown of British Eventing and the one that everyone wants to win. I remember watching here as a child — the first horse galloped past — a concoction of thundering hooves, sweat, adrenaline and determination which got my attention. The next jumped the famous ‘Huntsmans Close’, and made the enormous combination look so easy. I wanted to be one of those riders — I wanted to have a partnership with a horse like that and from that moment, I wanted to ride at Badminton.
Fast forward on 30 years and I’m here. I’m sitting in the lorry park, in fact parked opposite one of the riders that inspired me all those years ago. What a feeling to just have made it here.
Being on the ‘other side’ isn’t quite how I imagined. It’s better. Splash (Drumbilla Metro, pictured) is a horse that I trust completely. He is wonderful with an attitude that always wants to please.
Our preparation has gone relatively smoothly considering the tough weather conditions that we have endured and we won at Great Witchingham and jumped a super double clear at Belton in the CIC3*.
Moving in to Badminton is a squeeze. It’s like doing the dodgems or go carting with about 30 other 18 to 26 tonne lorries around a small country village. Not only that, but parking up in the lorry park resembled a bunch of over grown bob sleighs skidding everywhere! The lorry survived unscathed however, and we are parked up next to the famous village hall where the briefing is tomorrow [today, 2 May].
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Splash is settled in to the south main yard, just behind the house and we are on the end, stationed very close to my hero Piggy French and the classy Vanir Kamira. We’re in fact parked next to Piggy, and as I write, I’m looking out of the window in to the dark and can see late arrival (the style guru) Ben Hobday manoeuvring his lorry in front of ours. It’s certainly cosy in here!
Being here with a horse that I love, the support of my partner, James, my staff, friends and owners as well as my parents (who unknowingly created this eventing obsessed geek by bringing him here as a youngster) makes it all the more special. They know what effort has gone in, the sacrifice and at times lost dignity. I’m so grateful to them for being so brilliant and understanding of my (at times selfish) determination to get here. My ultimate aim is to do them all proud!
Don’t miss our Badminton preview issue out now (26 April 2018) with an exclusive course walk with Mary King.
Our full report will be published in the 10 May 2018 issue of Horse & Hound magazine