So, it’s the end of the first day of dressage at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.
How’s it been? Well, I think it’s fair to say I’ve had a unique experience. I’ve mainly seen the screen of my laptop (well, technically it belongs to Horse & Hound…), the TV screen and the four walls of the press tent.
Outrage, I hear you cry. H&H eventing editor sits in press tent all day at Badminton? Before you start to flog me with your cyberwhips, let me mention that this was in the service of H&H.
I’ve been providing the live text commentary on H&H’s first ever experiment with Cover It Live — a clever piece of technology that allows you to cover an event with continuous live comments and photos. It also lets readers post and take part in polls.
I’m feeling a little square-eyed now — it’s been a full on day, trying to keep H&H’s eager readers up to date, follow their comments, respond to their queries and so on. But fun. Oh yes, loads of fun.
If you want to join in tomorrow, we’ll be starting at 9.15am on www.horseandhound.co.uk/badmintonlive
So that’s what’s new with H&H at Badminton this year. But it’s a year of newness generally here, I feel. There are a record 24 first-timers at Badminton this year, and the field only contains two horses who have previously won a four-star — Zara Phillips’ Toytown, and William Fox-Pitt’s Macchiato, who won Luhmühlen last year.
I recorded an interview with Radio Badminton this morning and said that this year is one of opportunity. With fewer experienced horses than previously, younger horses and riders have a good chance of coming to the fore. Isn’t that exciting? I think so.
Emily Baldwin is a case in point. Our overnight dressage leader, she’s not a brand new face exactly. She’s 29 (young, but not just out of her pram) and this is her third Badminton. She fell in the water with Welton Sparkle on her first attempt and then was up there after dressage last year with her ride this year, Drivetime, but had one run-out.
So most of us at the core of the sport — fans and media — have heard of Emily, but she wouldn’t top our list of potential four-star winners. Could this be her year — or that of one of her contempories who are also in that position?
We won’t know the final answer until Sunday night, but meanwhile, I’m in here for the whole exciting roller coaster. I hope you are too.
Don’t forget to buy H&H next week (14 May) — our 15-page Badminton report will include comments from Carl Hester, Mark Todd and Tina Cook, plus cross-country course analysis and plenty of colour photographs.