I’m causing some hilarity in the Badminton press office with my excitement today. The reason for my excitement is two-fold.
Firstly, I’ve just met Mark Todd (pictured) and I reckon he’s a legend. He first won Badminton the year before I was born and went on to win it twice more, as well as back-to-back Olympic gold medals with Charisma.
Mark’s over here to plug Magnum Horsewalkers. He says the thing that makes them different to other horsewalkers is that there’s no mechanism in the centre, so you could “have a lungeing pen in the middle, or grow vegetables”. Dizzy gardeners coming up…
My second thrill of the day was that I got to talk on Horseware Radio Badminton. Yesterday evening I got talking to Stuart Buntine and Lord Leigh — otherwise known as Chris, the producer — and suggested they invite me on the radio.
I watched the first session of show jumping on the television in the studio with Chris and former champion jockey Richard Pitman. Afterwards, Richard and I had a chat on air, discussing some of the competitors and who we fancied to win — I thought to start with he was just asking me who I fancied, which was a whole different question.
Back with the serious business, I thought one of bravest performances yesterday was from Irish first-timer Jonty Evans. Jonty had a crashing fall last weekend, but was determined to ride here. He had the bad luck to be held for a long period on course, but still put in a clear jumping round.
When he got off Cregwarrior, you could see him being supported on each side as he walked away. He looked in a lot of pain during his show jumping round this morning and all respect to him for completing his first Badminton against the odds.
This afternoon all eyes will be on the big guns at the top of the leaderboard. As they say on television — I’m getting into broadcast speak — don’t go away.
Log on later for a final report from Badminton from H&H eventing editor Pippa Roome.
Buy Horse & Hound next Thursday (10 May) for full report, analysis and photographs from Badminton, including more on the riders’ reaction to the ground conditions.