Oliver Townend’s outstanding cross-country horse Armada made his final Badminton Horse Trials appearance at this year’s event (4-8 May).

The 17-year-old gelding by Fines completed his fifth clear cross-country at the four-star on Saturday (7 May).

“Moses” finished in 25th position after incurring 20 penalties in the showjumping.

Oliver said that Armada had worked harder than previously, so this would be his last Badminton appearance.

I hope everyone remembers him for his cross-country rounds here; five clears, four of them inside the time,” he said.

Armada, a notoriously challenging ride, was produced by Andrew Nicholson.

He was bred in Spain by Ramon Beca and is a full-brother to Andrew’s current ride Nereo.

In 2012 Andrew could not guarantee the then 13-year-old Armada a Badminton run, so recommended his owners, Paul and Diana Ridgeon, pass the ride on to Oliver.

At that point, Armada had already completed seven four-star events.

Oliver and Armada formed a formidable partnership with highlights including being placed second at Badminton in 2014 and fourth at Burghley in 2013.

At Gatcombe’s British Open Championships in 2013 the pair finished 10 seconds inside the cross-country time.

“He was even slowing down at the last minute,” said Oliver.

“That was the most thrilling cross-country ride — he went through a six-stride distance on a four.”

While Armada was one of the most talented cross-country horses on the circuit, showjumping has always been a challenge for the chestnut, preventing him from recording the very top results he might otherwise have been capable of.


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“We’ve tried everything [to improve his showjumping],” said Oliver. “But even when he knocks four rails into the crowd he nomally comes home with quite a bit of prize money.

“He’s done a great job and I’m very grateful to him and his owners.”

Although Armada is stepping down from the highest level of competition, he will continue to event.

“He’s certainly not going to be a dressage horse or a showjumper,” added Oliver.