Deluges on Coronation Day ahead of the Badminton Horse Trials cross-country, presented by Mars Equestrian, provoked a major shake-up of the field, both in terms of non-completions over the track, and riders electing to withdraw.
Several two-horse riders decided not to run their second rides, which would run late in the day when the going was particularly tacky.
Harry Meade had already posted a clear round on Away Cruising when he withdrew Tenareze.
“This was Tenareze’s first Badminton, and he smashed out a career-best dressage, scoring 26,” he said. “Having ridden around the course already on my first horse, and having discussed it with his owners, we took the decision not to run him across country. It was a step up in level for him and with the very soft conditions underfoot we felt that it wouldn’t suit him; he’s a careful horse so rather than send him out on a mission that would likely break his heart, he will be rerouted to another three-day event, with his confidence untarnished and hopefully an opportunity to shine.”
Tim Price also withdrew his second ride, the Maryland CCI5* winner Coup De Coeur Dudevin, who was ninth after dressage and had been due to run as the final horse. His first horse, Vitali, moved up from 11th after dressage to fourth with a fast clear round.
Fiona Kashel did not run Creevagh Silver De Haar, after she had a fall from her first ride WSF Carthago. He was trailered off the course after putting his foot in the ditch at fence 26, was treated in the veterinary clinic at Badminton and subsequently hospitalised. According to the official statement from Badminton, “the extent of injury found in surgery meant successful repair was not possible”.
Last year’s winner Laura Collett had withdrawn her title-holder London 52 a couple of weeks before Badminton due to an over-reach injury. She pulled her remaining ride Dacapo, seventh after dressage, before cross-country as he does not enjoy the mud.
“A tough decision to withdraw but I believe the right decision for Dacapo,” Laura said. “It has taken me a long time to get him to feel this confident and I know he doesn’t like the heavy going so we are saving him for another day.”
Michael Winter (El Mundo) and Kylie Roddy (Carden Earl Grey) were other riders to withdraw their contenders at this stage.
Badminton Horse Trials cross-country non-completions
There were 17 eliminations over Eric Winter’s influential track, and 11 retirements. There were six horse falls, and nine rider falls. Oliver Townend was eliminated when Swallow Springs was pulled up by the ground jury at fence 24. Izzy Taylor was eliminated on Happy Days for jumping a B element twice at the KBIS Brush Boxes, where she also had a fall on Graf Cavalier.
There were a couple of riders who pulled up without having any jumping problems, deciding to save their horses for another day over a challenging track on holding ground. Richard Jones retired five-star stalwart Alfies Clover midway round the track, while Emily King put her hand up and walked home after jumping nicely into the lake.
Felicity Collins had been enjoying a peach of a ride on RSH Contend Or, when he misjudged a ground rail in front of a ditch at fence 26, four fences from home. She was pitched out of the saddle but was quickly up on her feet – frustrated but unhurt.
“I try to stay away from talking about luck in this sport when it comes to cross-country – but I genuinely believe we were so unlucky and didn’t deserve that, as he was on for the most incredible clear and was giving me everything,” posted Felicity, who had jumped all the straight routes thus far. “Thankfully we are both absolutely fine, and I am very proud of the round we had up to that point, I couldn’t have asked for more!”
Hector Payne and Dynasty fell at 21A, the corner fence before The Lake. Both horse and rider are fine.
“It was not our day today,” Hector said. “Dynasty tried his absolute heart out and was jumping with all he had in him but sadly the sapping ground just took it out of him. He’s not a soft ground horse at the best of times and it was a long way round today. I’m sad for him I didn’t make the decision for him to pull up but he was still jumping like the trooper he is and at five-star you never know what’s going to happen. We are both absolutely fine and live to fight another day.”
Dentist Caroline Clarke’s Badminton debut came to a premature end when she fell off Touch Too Much at the Rolex T Bar, fence 11.
“Badminton was such a blast, and I’m so grateful to ‘Possum’ for taking me there,” Caroline posted on Instagram. “We had a tumble, but we came home sound and cheerful ready for the next adventure. This week has been the experience of a lifetime.”
Thirty horses completed the Badminton Horse Trials cross-country course. Two horses, Cooley One Too Many (Dan Jocelyn) and Solo (Hollie Swain), were penalised for breaking frangible fences – one at the Mars M Tables and one at the rail going into The Lake – and incurred 11 penalties. Swallow Springs (Oliver Townend) also activated the frangible device at the Mars Table before being pulled up.
The full complement of finishers were presented to the ground jury for the final horse inspection, and all 30 were passed, without any going to the holding box.
The showjumping phase starts at 11.30am for the bottom 10 in the order. The top 20 will start jumping in reverse order at 2.55pm, meaning Ros Canter and Lordships Graffalo will be the final combination into the ring.
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