Badminton Horse Trials blog: it’s been a vintage year

  • It has been a truly vintage Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials. Despite being chained to my laptop in the press office providing our H&H LIVE service throughout all of the action, I’ve loved every minute of it.

    The weather has been remarkably kind bearing in mind the early date. Beautiful sunshine greeted the crowds on both dressage days, slightly cooler temperatures were welcome on cross-country day, and we enjoyed a pleasant sunny day today for the showjumping.

    While spectators basked in the sunshine, riders have been praying for rain. Following the extended dry spell, the ground on the cross-country was firm in places, despite the very best efforts of the event’s team. Their hard work on the going may explain why we lost so few horses at the vet inspection this morning.

    I love getting ‘up close and personal’ with these horses at the trot-up and it never fails to amaze me how fit, healthy and enthusiastic they are after galloping for over 11mins the previous day. A number of them had to be ‘well-anchored’ by their riders for fear of running down the all-important ground jury, and on an Easter Monday to boot.

    The decision to run over Easter weekend was one that caused debate in some circles, so has it proved to be a success? Well the congregation and coffers of ‘Badminton church’ certainly benefitted from the most enjoyable Easter Sunday service in the main arena yesterday.

    Walking around the tradestands and eating areas, the crush doesn’t seem to have been as bad as I remember in previous years, but friends out on the cross-country course yesterday said it was as busy as ever. We await the official figures with interest.

    But regardless of how many people were here today, anyone who was will have the memory of Mark Todd winning his fourth Badminton etched in their mind for years to come. Can he make it five? I wouldn’t bet against it…

    My Badminton highlights

    Horse of the competition: Opposition Buzz, who produced the dressage test of his life on Saturday to lie in 12th place on 44pen before skipping round the cross-country course like it was a Pony Club track to finish inside the time.

    Rider of the competition: Laura Collet (pictured), who produced an outstanding dressage early on the first day, followed by a competitive clear cross-country round picking up 8.8 time penaties. She then held her cool when Rayef had one down early on in the showjumping to claim a top 10 finish at her first Badminton.

    Tear-jerker: Seeing Tamarillo back in the main arena at Badminton looking an exuberant as ever and quite clearly believing that every one of the people in the crowd were there purely to see him. As cheeky and delightful as ever, there was no better place for this supreme equine athlete to have his official retirement.

    Don’t miss H&H’s full 15-page report from Badminton, including expert analysis from Carl Hester and Cpt Mark Phillips, on sale Thursday 28 April

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