Pride and emotion as ‘horse of a lifetime’ takes Badminton Horse Trials lead ahead of cross-country

  • Laura Collett and her Tokyo Olympic gold medal-winning team mate London 52 scored a new five-star personal best to go into cross-country day as leaders at the 2022 Badminton Horse Trials, presented by Mars Equestrian.

    Laura’s pride in the 13-year-old Landos gelding, who she co-owns with Keith Scott and Karen Bartlett, caught in her voice as she described just what this special horse means to her after their leaderboard-topping test.

    Can such pride be put into words? “Not really!” says Laura, with a laugh, the magnitude of what this special horse means to her beyond words.

    “He’s a horse of a lifetime. I’ve always believed in him,” she says, in the video above. “We’ve had our ups and downs. He won me my first five-star, he won me an Olympic gold medal and I owe it to him to let him come and show just how good he is.”

    Their leading score of 21 is not only a personal best at five-star, but an all-time record for a woman at Badminton. It is also among the top five dressage scores recorded at the Gloucestershire five-star.

    To put that into further context, this year’s Badminton has also been touted as the most competitive field since at least 2015.

    Their performance pushed them ahead of Thursday dressage leader Tom McEwen and Toledo De Kerser, who are in provisional second ahead of the jumping phases on a score of 23.4. This also edges Kitty King and Vendredi Biats, runners up at the end of Thursday, into provisional third on 24.8.

    With the exception of the new leaders, the business end of the scoreboard remained largely unaffected by Friday’s starters.

    Oliver Townend was happy with the horse, but disappointed with the mark of 25.9 he received for Ballaghmor Class’s test on Friday afternoon, which puts the combination in equal eighth place.

    “Tomorrow is another day, thank God, and tomorrow isn’t based on the opinions of three people sat in garden sheds, so fingers crossed,” says Oliver, who also holds equal sixth position with his first-day ride Swallow Springs on 25.7.

    Ros Canter and Pippa Funnell both set strong challenges with their respective second rides. Ros rounds off the top 10 after dressage with Lordships Graffalo on a score of 26, and is also in 12th with her world gold medallist Allstar B for their 26.4 test from Thursday.

    “Graffalo is only rising 10 so he’s a very green horse,” says Ros. “He’s come up through the levels during Covid, so has seen very little of this kind of atmosphere before. I was busy trying to quieten everyone down but he didn’t bat an eyelid – I don’t know why I bothered. He’s such a professional and just takes everything in his stride.”

    Pippa piloted her 2019 Burghley winner MGH Grafton Street to provisional 11th on Friday afternoon (26.1). With her first ride, Billy Walk On in equal 16th on 28.5, both horses are in touch with the leaders ahead of cross-country.

    The French combination of Gireg Le Coz and Aisprit De La Loge (26.7), Ireland’s Susie Berry and John The Bull (28.8) and Britain’s Kylie Roddy and SRS Kan Do were among the notable first-timers on day two, all breaking the 30 barrier to sit in the top 20 ahead of cross-country.

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