It’s the Badminton Horse Trials countdown: we speak to the sculptor of the Mitsubishi Motors Trophy
The winner of Badminton Horse Trials from 1992 to 2019 received the Mitsubishi Motors Trophy. You may well be familiar with beautiful, solid silver three-horse prize, but do you know the story behind it?
The trophy was created by Wiltshire-based sculptor Judy Boyt to mark Mitsubishi’s title sponsorship.
“When we knew there were going to be new sponsors, the event’s then press office Jim Gilmore asked if I’d be interested in putting something forward,” explained Judy. “He liked the idea of having something bespoke.
“I designed it in an interview at Mitsubishi’s offices in Cirencester and drew it out on the table. I’m keen on the idea of good numbers and in Japan three is a positive number. Also, Mitsubishi’s logo is three diamonds and Badminton is a three-day event, so that’s how it evolved. I thought it would be a shame to pick just one horse for an event with three disciplines.”
The three horses on the trophy were based on real equines — King’s Jester for the dressage, Murphy Himself for the cross-country and King William for the showjumping. By chance, Mary King and King William were the first pair to win the trophy.
Judy’s involvement did not end once the trophy was made. Unusually for a trophy of such value, the winners were allowed to take it away with them, even abroad. But it was returned to Judy each year before the event, who polished it and checked all was in order.
Judy also made each of the two bronze resin replica trophies, which were given to the winning owner and rider to keep. And each year the top 12 riders at Badminton were given a small bronze resin replica of one of the horses on the trophy; Judy created these too.
In 2015 she made a new base for the main trophy, as more space was needed for winners’ plaques.
The sculptor would “go backstage” at Badminton on the Sunday of the event and help the then assistant director Jane Tuckwell with wrapping trophies and “making sure everything is in the right place”.
“I arrived armed with everything — dusters, tape — you wouldn’t want a smudge on the trophy,” she said. “The main trophy had to be wrapped in acid-free tissue or it would tarnish.”
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The trophy was on display during the event over the years when it was awarded and Judy said she sometimes listened to the public commenting on it.
“You’d hear children saying they want to win it one day,” she said. “And the stirrup on the dressage horse moves, which fascinates people.”
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