‘It’s mind-blowing’: meet Badminton first-timer Amanda Pottinger and her ‘gutsy’ little thoroughbred

  • Riding is in the blood of Badminton Horse Trials debutante, Amanda Pottinger, who is from New Zealand. Her mother, Tinks, was fourth at the Gloucestershire event in 1988 and was also an Olympic team bronze medallist in the same year.

    Amanda’s Badminton mount, Just Kidding, is a diminutive thoroughbred who is by 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus – a horse who also subsequently set a record at auction, selling for US$70m to Coolmore Stud, making him the world’s most expensive horse. Just Kidding is 16 now and is owned by Amanda Pottinger and her family.

    “Everyone always says ‘no scope, no hope’ and honestly, I think we just have a lot of hope,” Amanda, 30, said after her cross-country round at Badminton, the event presented by Mars Equestrian. “Because the biggest thing is no, he’s not big and no, he doesn’t have a lot of scope, but he has got a massive heart and there’s just no doubting that. I literally can aim him at anything and he has a crack. He’s a gutsy little thoroughbred and you know he’s full blood, and for these kinds of tracks that’s what you want to be sitting on.”

    Amanda and Just Kidding, whom she has owned for 10 years, came over to the UK last year, and they were 13th in the competitive CCI4*-S at Bicton in the summer. Previous to that, they have finished fourth and second at Adelaide five-star. Amanda went back to New Zealand over the winter and rejoined her horse, who remained in Britain during that time, in February.

    “My horse flew over last April from New Zealand and then he a little bit of time off through the winter, before bringing him back into work to prepare for Badminton,” she explains.

    Discussing what it was like riding around the Badminton cross-country track yesterday, Amanda said: “It’s amazing. They [the crowd] start cheering before you get over the last, which was a bit nerve-wracking! It’s the whole atmosphere here; it’s mind-blowing for not only me, but for the horse too. It’s definitely the biggest experience of our lives.”

    When asked who was more nervous, Amanda or her mother, the answer was: “Definitely my mother, easy question!

    “She gives me advice but she equally just lets me work it out because she knows how mind-blowing the whole experience is, but it’s good having her here plus my partner and everyone from New Zealand.”

    On the final day, Amanda and Just Kidding had four showjumps down, plus 1.6 time-faults.

    “It’s never been his strongest phase, but he started off jumping super then unfortunately we had three down in a row because I didn’t ride the line very well, so obviously I’m disappointed, but we’ve completed.”

    In terms of plans for the rest of 2022, Amanda has her eyes on the World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Pratoni, Italy.

    “Ideally he will aim for the World Equestrian Games team, and then we’ll see what happens towards the end of this year and next year.”

    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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