‘We’ll contest it and go from there’: potential Badminton top-10 finisher given flag penalty

  • Gemma Stevens had a mostly great Mars Badminton Horse Trials cross-country round with the 14-year-old gelding Chilli Knight, but has been awarded 15 penalties for a missed flag at fence 7D, the final part of the Voltaire Design Huntsman’s Close.

    They finished with 7.2 time-faults – one of the quicker rounds of the day – and with their 15 jumping penalties currently sit on 53.9 in 13th place at this stage of the competition.

    “I haven’t seen it back but it felt like he jumped the fence and from the back it looked like he did,” said Gemma, commenting on her jump through Huntsman’s Close. “We’ll contest the penalties and go from there. It will be the judge’s decision – sadly that’s sport.

    “He wasn’t as with me today as he normally is. He was very, very strong and very feisty, throwing his head around a lot wanting to get the job done. And 100% he was going to jump the jump in front of him, but he was throwing his head around like you wouldn’t believe and felt like he wasn’t always concentrating and he definitely wasn’t concentrating at The Lake.

    “Normally we’re so together but it just felt a bit erratic and that he wasn’t 100% with me today. But one thing I will say is that my God, he is just so unbelievably genuine. If he sees a jump, he will do everything in his power to jump it and get to the other side safely, but it just felt today like hard work and that’s why we couldn’t be as quick as we normally are. but the horse is as happy as Larry and has recovered really well.”

    “I can’t help being disappointed because I know what we are capable of, which is jumping clear, inside the time around Badminton.”

    Laura Collett experienced a heart-stopping moment with Hester, with whom she was 21st after the dressage, at The Lake when the mare got a bit close to the corner in the water, but managed to scramble over and jump out over the final skinny triple brush well.

    However this mistake clearly left its mark on Hester as she then slightly scrambled over the A element of fence 15ABD, the LeMieux Eyelash Brushes, and ground to a halt at the middle element – a water-filled ditch. Laura sensibly opted to retire and the mare walked away happily.

    Alex Bragg enjoyed a marvellous round with Quindiva, a 14-year-old mare owned by the Roe family. They jumped clear across country, incurring just 7.6 time-fault to rise from 51st after the dressage into seventh at this stage of Badminton Horse Trials cross-country day.

    “At this time of day, the crowd is in the arena and the sun is shining and this is why we do it – it’s magic. This result is beyond our wildest dreams with her – she’s a fighter, the ground is really sticky and she deserves it,” said Alex.

    “It’s such an amazing feeling finishing here. I’ve started many times and not always come through that finish line – it’s been a tricky show for me.

    “This mare is very sensitive this time of year as she’s coming into season and getting them this fit is hard. We weren’t sure if we were going to even be here but she tried her heart out today – I punched the air before I was through the finish line, which is probably not very professional and could have wasted one second but when you finish like that and you have that much emotion and the crowd is going absolutely wild. You’ve just got to enjoy it and all that hardship that you go through and all the bad weather we’ve had, it’s all been worth it for that one magic moment.”

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