Badminton Horse Trials blog: lunching with royalty

  • I don’t like to be thought of as a name-dropper, but I hope those of you who were following our live written dressage coverage at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials today appreciate that I had to leave the Princess Royal to re-join you after lunch.

    Don’t worry, I don’t generally rendez-vous with royalty. But this was at a World Horse Welfare lunch — Badminton’s official charity this year — where I was placed on a table with Jane Holderness-Roddam (lady-in-waiting and twice Badminton winner), among others.

    Suddenly, just as the main course finished, the Princess stood up (we all leapt to our feet too) and asked Jane to swap places with her. The timing could scarcely have been worse from my point of view — it was 1.45pm and I had to leave at 1.55pm to re-start H&H Live. Gulp.

    Anyway, I excused myself politely and HRH took it with what I’m sure is her customary grace.

    It was a good lunch — I sat between Penny Thornton (former World Horse Welfare trustee and Polly Lochore, who rode at four-star as Polly Hely-Hutchinson) and Jane H-R told us a funny story about the time she won on Warrior in 1978, when a whole grandstand took off due to the wind.

    Jane has a particular interest at this year’s Badminton as she and her husband Tim own Alexander Peternell’s ride Tiger’s Eye II, who did his dressage today. The grey looked fitter than I’ve ever seen him before, and all credit to Alexander who is riding despite a nasty fall a few weeks ago which left him with damaged ligaments in his knee.

    Sitting alongside H&H dressage editor Sarah Jenkins doing our live written dressage commentary today has been a laugh — much more relaxed than last year when I pretty much had smoke coming out of my ears trying to keep the coverage updated on my own.

    The horse who impressed me — other than the leaders — was Daisy Berkeley’s Spring Along, 10th on 48pen. It’s the first time he’s broken the 50-barrier at four-star level since Badminton 2006, as since then he’s tended to get tense and naughty. Today, he held his composure well. Daisy was riding him in a double bridle, which seemed to be successful for her at some events last year and obviously still continues to work its magic.

    Tomorrow, I can’t wait to see H&H columnist Tina Cook take to the big stage with Miners Frolic (at 2pm) and I’m also looking forward to seeing Sarah Bullimore’s exciting 11-year-old Salerno (11.26am). Join us at 9.15am for more live updates.

    First day’s dressage report.

    Don’t miss H&H’s 15-page special report in the issue dated 6 May, including day-by-day analysis, comments from Carl Hester and Mark Phillips and much more.

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