‘I was talking to him the whole way round’: youngest competitor stuns on Badminton debut on home-bred

  • The youngest competitor in the field at Badminton Horse Trials, presented by Mars Equestrian, this year is 20-year-old Alice Casburn, for whom this is also a Badminton debut. And what a debut she has had, having just one fence down in the final phase, finishing 19th overall.

    Alice rides her mother Caroline’s 14-year-old gelding Topspin, who is a second generation home-bred. Riding is in Alice’s blood too, as Caroline (née Sizer) rode at the World Equestrian Games in 1994 and also rode at Badminton.

    “My mum’s not a teary person and she just bawled her eyes out – I can’t believe it,” said Alice after her clear cross-country jumping round, where the pair picked up just 4.8 time-faults. “He was phenomenal and I came out a bit more shell-shocked than he did, especially towards home. He was amazing, is honest and I couldn’t be more thrilled with him.

    “I am so pleased just to get round – it caused carnage this morning and I sort of thought, ‘Oh gosh, I’m a first-timer’. I’m also quite vocal, so I was talking to him the whole way round but it’s an amazing feeling and when I got to the finish line, I was quite teary.”

    Topspin is a horse of many talents as he’s also a Grade A showjumper and has jumped 1.80m in a puissance with Alice in 2019.

    Alice’s mum said after her dressage test on Friday: “As long as Alice is happy and enjoying it, that’s the main thing.”

    The young Norfolk rider, who has plans to keep riding full-time, for the time being at least, admitted that she gets nervous.

    “I’m really, really nervous and then as soon as I get on, I’m ready to go and pretty happy with everything. I can understand why people keep going and going and going in this sport as I can see how you can get addicted to the adrenaline,” said Alice Casburn after her Badminton Horse Trials cross-country round.

    Read our full Badminton form guide in this week’s issue of Horse & Hound (issue dated 5 May 2022). Our bumper 20-page Badminton report will be in our 12 May issue and keep fully up-to-date with all the action during Badminton week via horseandhound.co.uk, where a host of features and reports will be published.

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