Pictures by Peter Nixon
The first horse inspection… the start of the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials and nerves are racing. No one wants their competition to end here — and it has happened in the past, sometimes even to those who think their horses are perfectly sound.
But away from the high drama, the trot-up is also a catwalk, a chance for riders to show their flair for fashion.
Which of these looks are weird and which are wonderful? You decide…
Louise Harwood (Whitson and Mr Potts, pictured): turquoise was a popular colour among female competitors this year, as shown here in the ties of Louise’s jacket. White jeans were also a frequent sight.
Dani Evans (Raphael II and Smart Time, pictured): the 24-year-old sported a classy monochrome look, with a black and white jacket over a black dress.
Megan Heath (St Daniel): the New Zealand rider paired her culottes with a spangly top.
Kirsty Johnston (Opposition Detective): this one got my stylish mother-in-law’s vote for the best look — a white and blue dress, with black boots, set off by Kirsty’s curly hair.
Ben Way (Galley Light): the amateur rider took our “judges’ choice award” — admittedly the panel were all female… his classic outfit combined a tweed jacket with loafers.
Andreas Ostholt (So Is Et): a close runner-up for the “judges’ choice award” — you can’t beat a man in uniform…
Clarke Johnstone (Balmoral Sensation): although the gentlemen of my acquaintance tell me blue suits and brown shoes are “uber-naff”, there were a fair few examples of this on display and I thought they looked rather smart. Also, we have questions about Clarke’s scarf and the name Balmoral — is there a Scottish connection?
Ben Hobday (Mulrys Error): the popular rider showed off a look involving shades and a tweed jacket and waistcoat — and received the biggest cheer of the day.
Tina Cook (Star Witness): Tina let her jewellery do the talking today, with a matching necklace and earrings.
Alex Hua Tian (Harbour Pilot C): the Chinese rider looked particularly striking in a bow tie, patent shoes and a jacket with a chevron pattern.
Zara Tindall (High Kingdom): another in white jeans, Zara also wore a loose black and white jacket.
Emily King (Brookleigh): the youngest rider here, Emily showed off her slim figure in a tight-fitting orange dress.
Bettina Hoy (Designer 10): the German’s look was my personal favourite — the statement piece being a short navy jacket with white piping.
Paul Tapner (Vanir Kamira): known for his dashing outfits, Paul wore his trademark red this time in his bow tie and socks, plus he wore a jacket on which the trimming matched his trousers.
Lucy Jackson (Bosun): we overheard someone say, “Is that Robin Hood from Sherwood Forest?” as Lucy took to the strip — her feathered hat was certainly the most outlandish fashion item on display.
Dee Hankey (Chequers Playboy): known for her high heels, former popstar Dee kept the footwear pretty conservative this year. She was one of several ladies to wear fur, in her case on the collar and cuffs.
Follow all our Badminton online coverage and make sure you buy next week’s magazine (12 May) for a full 24-page report.