Think you know everything about Badminton Horse Trials winner Laura Collett and her victory at the British spring classic? Check out these nine insights into her winning week with London 52 (Dan) at the event, presented by Mars Equestrian.
1. Laura requested the same stable as she’d had in 2011, when she was eighth on her Badminton debut with Rayef, and the team kindly gave it to her.
“That was my luckiest Badminton, plus I felt it was the most special and quiet place to be stabled, which would suit Dan,” says Laura on episode 103 of The Horse & Hound Podcast, supported by NAF Five Star Superflex.
2. Laura and her groom, Tilly Hughes, stayed in her lorry. Her mother Tracey came in each day with Karen Bartlett, who owns London 52 with Keith Scott and Laura. Karen was running the Horse Trials Support Group tent.
3. She made a careful plan for getting up to the main arena for her dressage test.
“I think if you walk all the way up to the main arena for your test, you can lose a horse’s mind because there’s so much for them to look at with the crowds and big screen, so I just walked the first bit and then trotted all the way to keep Dan listening and focused,” she says.
4. She walked the course numerous times, including with sponsors, with Yogi Breisner (who is one of her trainers), and with Tilly.
“I found it really helpful to explain my plan to Tilly – verbalising it made me concentrate and think, ‘This is what I want to be doing’,” she says.
5. Laura structured her cross-country warm-up based on what she did at the Tokyo Olympics last year.
She explains: “In Tokyo, we jumped all the horses early on cross-country day before it became too hot and then did a minimal warm-up. Dan can get a bit excited and that worked well – he felt amazing – I thought I’d try to do that again. I jumped five or six cross-country fences early and I was surprised how many people were streaming in at 7am. Even then there was a buzz.”
6. Tilly and Laura’s friend Hannah Vowles went out to her when she was held on course and took buckets of water so they could wash Dan down.
“I was very relieved to see some friendly faces as you feel very lonely out there on the course,” she says. “There were crowds of people all being lovely and saying nice things, but really all you want to do is focus on what you’ve got left to do.”
7. Laura only had about 45 minutes sleep on Saturday night… and cried solidly for two hours when she woke up on Sunday.
“It suddenly hit me what was happening… plus there was the thought of waiting all day to jump to see how it was going to end,” she says.
8. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, she felt very sick on Sunday.
“I had to force myself to eat as I knew I wouldn’t be jumping until around 4pm. My friend Suzi Cooper sat with me and made me eat and she said it looked like I was doing a Bushtucker Trial as I just wanted to be sick,” she says.
9. One of the first things she did when she got in her lorry to go home was watch her showjumping round back.
“The round felt awful. After I watched it, I just looked at Tilly and said, “Thank god it didn’t look as bad as felt.” He’s an exceptional horse and made me look all right,” she says.
Hear more from Laura Collett about her successful week at Badminton Horse Trials by tuning in to episode 103 of The Horse & Hound Podcast here, or search “The Horse & Hound Podcast” in your favourite podcast app.
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