Mary King: Full steam ahead to Badminton *H&H VIP*

Opinion

As the first winner of the Mitsubishi Motors Trophy, I was particularly sorry to hear that this will be its last year. Keeping a title sponsor for that long is a great achievement. It’s much harder and more expensive to run a major event now than it was 28 years ago.

Riders expect better course preparation and spectators expect decent loos and catering; grooms want showers and electricity, and the press fast Wi-Fi and results. Above all, health-and-safety requirements are far more onerous.

Another expense is that it’s almost a given there will be livestreaming, which has been the norm in Europe for a while, even at such things as sales. Badminton will be livestreamed, so through this and TV, all phases can be seen all around the world; this is bound to be popular and should encourage a potential sponsor.

I admit that I would love for the last Mitsubishi trophy to go to a Brit (no pressure, Emily!). The antipodeans (eight wins in the past 12 runnings) have held it for long enough!

I expect Ros Canter’s gold medal team-mates — Tom McEwen with the beautiful Toledo De Kerser; Gemma Tattersall, whose Pau runner-up Pamero 4 shouldn’t be affected by their fall at Belton; and Piggy French riding Vanir Kamira — to be vying for top honours. And I hope Laura Collett is compensated for not getting to the World Equestrian Games — Mr Bass’s flying changes, which were a weak point, seem to have come together.

The two most recent home-side Badminton winners are Oliver Townend, who had a brilliant Burnham Market, and William Fox-Pitt, whose Little Fire was going brilliantly before a late mishap at Pau.

There’s been no Irish winner since 1965 and, in the absence of the world champion, Padraig McCarthy is the highest-placed rider from WEG. He went beautifully last year on Mr Chunky, a horse who epitomises the Badminton stamp.

My favourite to take the silver trophy, however, is the world bronze medallist, Ingrid Klimke. She and SAP Hale Bob OLD led in 2017 before a nightmare showjumping, but they are now very much the experienced all-round package.

Sadness in the west

A lot has been said about the British Eventing international fixtures list causing annoyance in some areas. We need to encourage a new generation of directors and course-designers, which is why, here in the West Country, we are disappointed for Helen West at Bicton.

She has been awarded autumn two-stars (previously one-stars), but has lost her spring internationals and her autumn CCI3*-S (previously CIC2*), as well as being disappointed in her hopes to run a CCI4*-S (formerly CIC3*). It would be great for us in the west not to have to travel so far for everything and Helen has done a good job in building her team and improving her event.

It’s early days, but we will see if some new FEI rules have been thought through properly as well. I understand the thinking behind the reviewing of judging discrepancies over flying changes, but, in practice, the head-on view is completely different to side on.

The cross-country flag rule, which is likely to be revisited, has put an added burden on officials, as at Burnham Market where Laura Collett successfully appealed and retained second. It has the potential to cause unnecessary chaos.

Ref Horse & Hound; 18 April 2019