‘What I was put on this earth for’: top rider completes full set of world’s five-star events

  • US rider Boyd Martin has successfully sealed the full set of CCI5*s having completed the Mars Badminton Horse Trials.

    In doing so, the 44-year-old has become only the second event rider to complete all seven regular five-stars around the world, joining Tim Price.

    “It’s been a long road. I started doing this when I was 19 years old, and they were long formats, I didn’t wear a body protector cross-country, was wild and young and staying up late and partying all night, then coming out for the showjumping the next morning,” says Boyd, who grew up in Australia and initially represented that nation before relocating to the US. “Now I’ve got grey hair and am a bit stiff and sore and have three kids – eventing is what I live for though.

    “I really thrive on these five-stars, especially these classic ones. All the five-stars are unique and they’ve all got a different flavour. Right from my first one with Flying Doctor, back in 2000 [at Adelaide], I knew what I was put on this earth for.”

    Boyd Martin at Badminton Horse Trials

    Boyd was riding his five-star and championship stalwart Tsetserleg TSF at Badminton this week – a 17-year-old gelding, owned by Thomas, Christine and Tommie Turner.

    Having been fourth after the dressage, Boyd and “Thomas” picked up 60 penalties at the INEOS Grenadier Sunken Road, then lowered two rails and notched 0.4 time-faults in the final showjumping phase this morning (12 May).

    “I’m obviously a bit heartbroken after yesterday, but he jumped well in there today – I would have loved to have gone clear or had just one down, but this is his harder phase and felt like he actually jumped well,” explains Boyd. “Part of me is devastated but part of me is still pleased with the horse because there were bits and pieces that felt like Thomas is at the best he’s ever been.

    “You always have dreams of being right in there on the last day and jumping first thing on Sunday morning is not what I had envisioned. But half the world is fighting over a bowl of rice so we’ll go home and get stuck back into it, come back and try again.”

    What’s next for Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF?

    Speaking of plans for Thomas for the rest of 2024, Boyd says that a more local event will probably be on the cards.

    “The Turner family been very generous to me and flown Thomas around the world. Part of me thinks that he will probably head towards Maryland. It’s one of the five-stars he yet hasn’t done and it’s 20 minutes down the road from the house, rather than being in Europe.

    “I still feel like the horse has got a bit left in the tank. He doesn’t feel old or used up and I feel like he’s still enjoying himself. There’s parts of his performance where we’re getting the best work out of him and then obviously, there’s a few parts where I’ve got to ride him a bit better and he’s still got some weak points.

    “But he is a champion and in his seventh year of competing at five-star level. It’s a huge credit to the heart, toughness and soundness of this horse.”

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