Professional eventers speak out against Badminton Grassroots

  • The Event Riders’ Association (ERA) is asking the Badminton organisers to reconsider running the Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots Championship during the first part of the international competition.

    Lower-level riders took their championship to the hallowed Badminton turf for the first time this year, but while delighted BE100 winner Jack Day and BE90 winner Amy Dixon were receiving their prizes in the main ring, some professional riders were uphappy.

    Their concern was that while they were getting to grips with the four-star dressage test, the Grassroots riders were on the cross-country course and whistles and galloping hooves could be heard from the arena.

    Eventer and ERA spokesman Francis Whittington said: “The general concept of having the Grassroots Championships at Badminton is a good one, but they should not have held it on a dressage day.

    “I think they should move it to trot-up day [Thursday], or Monday with the showjumping.”

    He said ERA would speak to both sets of riders and relay their comments to Badminton organiser Hugh Thomas.

    H&H columnist Tina Cook said: “It was not fair for those riders who rode their dressage on Friday. It wasn’t like a one-day event where everyone is in the same boat — riders drawn for Saturday had a clear advantage.

    “At Badminton, you are riding for £60,000 and team selection — it’s a big deal.”

    Kitty King, who rode her test on Boondoggle on the Friday, said it was only the gelding’s laid-back nature that allowed her to ride a good test.

    “I think it was unfair. I’m lucky I have a very sensible horse. But if I had been on some of my others, I would not have got a test out of them.”

    But Mr Thomas did not believe there had been a problem.

    “It was a huge success. We will review the entire event, but, at present, I don’t anticipate a change to the timetable.

    “In any case, it is not possible for us to run [the Grassroots] the day before as all the stalls are being set up and the main course is being finalised.”

    And British Eventing’s Paul Graham said: “I did hear some moaning so I looked up horses’ previous dressage results, and I don’t believe any horses were really affected. I think the riders were stressing themselves out.”

    But Cumbrian medical rep Amy Dixon, who won the BE90 championship on Maid In Holland, said she hoped the Grassroots competition had not put off the four-star riders.

    “I hope they let us come to Badminton next year, it means so much to be here,” she said.

    Grassroots championship results

    BE100 champ (sec A) 1, Smoke And Mirrors (Jack Day) 27.8; 2, Weston Moonshine (E Wilson) 28; 3, Laurentian Lad (K Roddy) 29.3. BE90 champ (sec B) 1, Maid In Holland (A Dixon) 28.8; 2, Spark Of Talent (K Baugh) 30.3; 3, Wodka Lime (B Sutcliffe) 31.

    Don’t miss H&H’s full report on the Grassroots Championship, on sale Thursday 13 May

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