Mark Todd may not be riding at this year’s Badminton (6-10 May), following his retirement from eventing last year, but the four-time winner will be coaching Canadian rider Selena O’Hanlon at the event this May.
Selena has been based with the legendary New Zealand rider for her previous Badminton starts and he will be helping her this year although she won’t be keeping her mount Foxwood High (“Woody”) at his yard because there isn’t space with his new racing venture.
“Mark has agreed to coach me and hold my hand through Badminton and he’s putting his thinking cap on for where Woody can stay. I hope he can find me somewhere,” said Selena, who stays with family friends for her British ventures.
Foxwood High’s owner John Rumble was a team bronze medallist for Canada in eventing at the 1956 Olympics and he was based at Badminton for team training.
“The team had dinner with the Duke and he said he hoped to see him back with a horse one day to compete so there’s a lot of history there for John,” said Selena, adding that John’s team-mate Jim Elder will also make the trip over to spectate at Badminton this time, as he has previously.
Selena has completed Badminton twice, with Colombo in 2011 and with Foxwood High in 2018, when the pair finished 24th.
“I know now it’s achievable. Woody is such a good cross-country horse and you can really move up the leaderboard,” she said.
Last year, Selena was in Britain preparing for Badminton when Woody sustained an injury and had to be withdrawn. He did not compete again last season, so Selena was thrilled to have him back for last weekend’s Mars Eventing Showcase (8-9 February) at Equestrian Village at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, home of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival.
“His injury could have been career-ending, so it’s just the icing on the cake to have him back — my smile started in the warm-up and continued right through,” said Selena after her dressage test, which put her in third place after that phase. “Whether it goes well or badly, it’s such a great experience to be out there playing with the big boys.”
Selena then had two showjumps down and finished just one second over the optimum time across country to finish 12th.
“I was interested to see if we could pick up where we left off,” she said, explaining that that was the case across country, but she needs to practise more showjumping courses with the big-striding Woody, who had not jumped a course in either discipline since last March.
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Selena and Woody will fly over to Britain around 1 April and will have one run before Badminton, probably at Bicton Arena.
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