‘I can’t believe it’ — 2019 Badminton winner crowned

On her 25th attempt at this level, Piggy French has won a five-star event today (5 May) at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials. Riding Trevor Dickens’ 14-year-old mare, Vanir Kamira, Piggy posted a textbook round, being one of 11 from 56 showjumping starters to jump clear inside the time.

N.B: Please be patient while the video interview below loads.

“I’m very much not used to this — I can’t believe it,” said an emotional Piggy. “I woke up this morning thinking we could do it, then after I walked the course I thought that was it as that style of course really doesn’t suit her with several related distances. I could build the same course at home, in the same size arena as here and jump it 50 times and we wouldn’t jump clear. In the nicest possible way, she’s a pain 362 days of the year, but I love her to bits and she comes into form at these big ones.”

Oliver Townend, who had led overnight on Ballaghmor Class had one fence down, but lost on time-faults, finishing four seconds over the time, and in the end lost victory by .3 of a penalty, resulting in second place.

“This has been and unbelievable performance and achievement for this horse,” said Oliver. “This is such a special win for Piggy and her family and she was disappointed this time last week in Kentucky. A quarter of a second is an annoying margin to lose by, and all I needed to do was take one less stride somewhere, but this is Ballaghmor Class’s best performance to date.”

Australia’s Chris Burton was third riding Joe and Kate Walls’ hugely talented 11-year-old, Cooley Lands. They were the only pair to finish on their dressage score of 28.1, 1.3 penalties adrift of Piggy.

N.B: Please be patient while the video interview below loads.

“He gave his all and I’m delighted for his owners,” said Chris, who was also fourth on Graf Liberty after crashing through a fence and incurring two time-faults. “I tried to go down that line on one stride less on Graf Liberty but it didn’t work out.”

Andrew Nicholson was fifth with Paul and Diana Ridgeon’s Swallow Springs. They had two fences down, finishing on 35.8.

“He went a bit green to start with and showed his inexperience,” explained Andrew. “He didn’t want to go near the crowds but he jumped better during the second half of the course.”

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Oliver was sixth on his second ride, Cillnabradden Evo, who had four jumping faults, while Tina Cook (Billy The Red) and Imogen Murray (Ivar Gooden) rose three and four places respectively into seventh and eighth thanks to clear rounds inside the time. Imogen also won the prize for the biggest climb after the dressage, having started off in 65th. William Fox-Pitt was ninth with Little Fire, while Tim Price (Ringwood Sky Boy) dropped from overnight sixth to 10th after dropping three poles.

Don’t miss next week’s issue of H&H (dated 9 May) for the full report from Badminton Horse Trials