Oliver Townend won the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials for the first time this afternoon.
The overnight leader on Edward and Robert Nicholson’s Flint Curtis, the 26-year-old British rider entered the arena with one fence in hand to take the £60,000 first prize.
He used this up at fence seven, but then managed to clear the remaining fences.
“I knew if I didn’t win it would be down to a mistake on my part,” he said. “He can jump clear or have three down, but I know him inside out and I knew if I did the right thing, he’d pull it off.
“Winning Badminton is indescribable — I’m bound to say something stupid if I try to describe it, so I’m going to keep my mouth shut.”
Listen to Oliver Townend’s interview
Several of the leading riders had disastrous rounds. Lucy Wiegersma was second after cross-country on Shaabrak, who has had problems with the show jumping in the past. He was jumping cleanly until he hit the middle part of the treble at fence 8 and he then had three more down to drop to sixth.
Italy’s first-timer Roberto Rotatori had three down, but only dropped one place to fourth with Della Malaspina Irham De Viages. And Karin Donckers (Gazelle De La Brasserie) and Ruth Edge (Mayhem III) also lowered three fences apiece, to fall two places each to seventh and eighth.
The two riders who took advantage of this shower of falling poles were William Fox-Pitt and Sam Griffiths. William jumped clear on Idalgo to move up to second from fourth, while his one pole down on Macchiato meant he also took fifth.
“Some horses are not lucky, and Idalgo’s been one of them — he’s had injuries and glitches,” said William. “But he’s a fantastic horse to ride and very talented.”
Listen to William Fox-Pitt’s interview
Australia’s Sam Griffiths also jumped a fault-free round on the 10-year-old Happy Times to score his best Badminton result, third, having moved up from 20th after dressage.
“He didn’t do as good a test as I’d hoped. I thought I’d move up as he’s a good jumper, but not as much as that,” said Sam.
Listen to Sam Griffith’s interview after his jumping round
1. Oliver Townend on Flint Curtis (GBR) 44.5
2. William Fox-Pitt on Idalgo (GBR) 45.2
3. Sam Griffiths on Happy Times (AUS) 53.3
4. Roberto Rotatori on Della Malaspina Irham De Viages (ITA) 55.7
5. William Fox-Pitt on Macchiato (GBR) 55.8
6. Lucy Wiegersma on Shaabrak (GBR) 56.5
Don’t forget to buy H&H next week (14 May) — our 15-page Badminton report will include comments from Carl Hester, Mark Todd and Tina Cook, plus full cross-country course analysis and plenty of colour photographs.