11 pairs to watch at Badminton: will one of these riders take the title this week?

  • The spotlight will be on the Mars Badminton Horse Trials riders and horses who are in contention for the trophy this week and fans will eagerly await their performances as they take to the big stage.

    Check out the info below to make sure you are fully in the know about the top pairs to watch.

    Badminton Horse Trials riders and horses: the top 11 contenders

    List in number order, with info presented as follows:

    Number. Rider name
    Rider age, nationality

    Horse name, horse age, horse colour, horse gender, horse sire x horse damsire, horse owner(s)

    Form assessment

    4. Harry Meade
    40, GBR

    Cavalier Crystal, 14 b m, Jack Of Diamonds x Cavalier Royale, Charlotte Opperman

    This mare finished third on her five-star debut at Burghley Horse Trials, having been fourth, 12th and fifth at her CCI4*-Ls. She won’t be in the top echelons after dressage – and that phase is typically more important here than at Burghley, so probably not the winner – but can certainly be competitive. Harry is a local rider and his best result here is third in 2014 on Wild Lone.

    7. Boyd Martin
    44, USA

    Tsetserleg TSF, 17 bl g, Windfall 2 x Buddenbrock, Christine, Thomas IV and Tommie Turner

    Boyd has completed every five-star in the world except Badminton, where he has started but fell, so let’s hope he can round off the set. Tsetserleg added ninth at Burghley last year to his other career highs – second and fourth at Kentucky Three-Day Event and world team silver and Pan Am double gold. Could win on his best form, but probably a little past his best.

    21. David Doel
    31, GBR

    Galileo Nieuwmoed, 13 db g, Carambole x Harcos, rider, Mary Fox & Gillian Jonas

    These two have become a standing dish at the top of five-star leaderboards – sixth here in 2022, fourth at Pau Horse Trials that autumn, eighth at Kentucky and second at Burghley last year. They will need to pull off a better first phase than before to win, but are odds-on for a dressage-score finish, which makes them ones to keep an eye on. David lives in Wiltshire.

    34. William Fox-Pitt
    55, GBR

    Grafennacht, 12 b m, Birkhof’s Grafenstolz x Narew, Amanda Gould

    This pair landed second at Maryland 5 Star last autumn, so could go better than their 14th here in 2023 this time. It seems unlikely Dorset-based William will win a third Badminton at this stage, but it certainly isn’t impossible. Grafennacht’s dam, Nachtigall, was a prolific national winner up to intermediate with Susan Eggleton, who then bred Grafennacht from her.

    53. Ros Canter
    38, GBR

    Izilot DHI, 11 b g, Zavall VDL x Cavalier, rider & Alex Moody

    Ros is the reigning Badminton champion with Lordships Graffalo, who keeps his powder dry for Paris this time. Izilot DHI’s three international wins on the bounce last autumn culminated in a victorious five-star debut at Pau. He’s sharp, so his record isn’t impeccable, and fairly inexperienced, but super-talented. They start among the favourites.

    62. Emily King
    28, GBR

    Valmy Biats, 15 b g, Orlando x Hadj A, Philippe Brivois, rider’s father David & Valmy Biats Syndicate

    Flintshire-based Emily is four times a starter here, but yet to be a completer – and potentially very competitive. She and Valmy were eighth at Pau 2022 and built experience last year – nothing quite came together, but they completed their first Luhmühlen Horse Trials and Burghley. Scored a second Thoresby win in April. Emily’s mother is two-time Badminton winner Mary.

    64. Tim Price
    45, NZL

    Vitali, 14 b g, Contender x Heraldik xx, Alexander & Joseph Giannamore & rider

    Over the past two years Vitali has been third and fourth at Burghley, 10th at Luhmühlen and seventh here. He broke the dressage record at Burghley 2023 with an 18.7, but has had three down showjumping on all those runs – could be a multiple five-star winner if Tim can crack that phase. Tim’s best Badminton result is third in 2017 on Xavier Faer.

    70. Gemma Stevens
    39, GBR

    Chilli Knight, 14 ch g, Chilli Morning x Rock King, Christopher Stone

    Gemma and Chilli Knight – by Badminton winner Chilli Morning and out of Kings Gem, who competed at five-star under Gemma – won the one-off Bicton five-star in 2021. He hasn’t done a lot since, so this is an exciting comeback. Likely to be off the pace after dressage, but can climb. West Sussex-based Gemma’s best result here is third on Arctic Soul in 2016.

    73. Laura Collett
    34, GBR

    Hester, 13 gr m, Heinrich Heine x Blue Henry, Lucy Nelson

    Laura is a former Badminton winner, with London 52 in 2022. Lucy Nelson’s home-bred mare has bounced around a few riders and joined Laura in 2021. They were 14th at Blenheim last year, Hester’s only CCI4*-L, and recently seventh in a very hot CCI4*-S at Thoresby, so should be well set up for a decent shot at the horse’s first five-star.

    80. Tom Jackson
    31, GBR

    Capels Hollow Drift, 13 gr g, Shannondale Sarco St Ghyvan x Lucky Gift, Patricia Davenport, Milly Simmie & Sarah Webb

    After 16th here and second at Burghley in 2022, plus fifth here last year, this pair’s bubble cracked a little when they had 20 jumping penalties at the Europeans on their senior squad debut. If they can put that behind them and regain their former form – including the best-ever dressage they showed in Haras du Pin – they are serious contenders.

    81. Pippa Funnell
    55, GBR

    MCS Maverick, 11 b g, Mill Law x unlisted, Nick & Sarah Ross

    This horse joined Pippa last year, having been ridden by Helen Wilson, and won Bramham CCI4*-L, before making an under-the-radar five-star debut at Pau, where he was 11th with 20 jumping penalties across country. He’s inexperienced so it’s likely Pippa won’t push him to the max, especially if conditions aren’t perfect, but potentially very exciting.

    For similar details on all the Badminton Horse Trials riders and horses, plus score sheets to fill in as the week progresses, buy this week’s magazine, out Thursday 9 May or pick up a free copy from the organisers’s office or the Badminton Cafe by the scoreboards at Badminton, while stocks last.

    How to watch Badminton Horse Trials

    If you are interested in watching the live action of all the Badminton Horse Trials riders from the comfort of your home, wherever you are in the world, you will need to subscribe to Badminton TV. To sign up, visit watch.badminton-horse.tv – click the “Sign Up” link in the top right corner of your screen, then follow the instructions. An annual subscription to Badminton TV costs £19.99 via the website and gives you 365 days of access to all of the content in the Badminton TV library, the ability to watch the action live, and the option to replay all of this year’s action later. Find out more…

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    To ensure you keep up to date with all the breaking news, behind the scenes insight, and the best of the action throughout Badminton Horse Trials with no limits on how much you can read, subscribe to the Horse & Hound website from as little as £1 a week. Sign up now. And don’t miss our bumper 22-page magazine report on Badminton, including in-depth analysis and exclusive comments from top names, in the issue of Horse & Hound dated 16 May.

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