‘He’s my hero!’ Relief for Badminton runner-up Oliver Townend with his five-star veteran

  • Ballaghmor Class continued his phenomenal record of being placed top five in all eight of his five-star appearances (not including championships) to finish runner-up at Badminton Horse Trials, at the event presented by Mars Equestrian.

    Ridden by Oliver Townend, the great grey knocked one fence down to move up a place from his third slot overnight when Austin O’Connor’s ride Colorada Blue lowered the two parts of the final double. Ballaghmor Class had clocked the third fastest time across country the previous day to move up from sixth after dressage.

    The Badminton winners, Ros Canter and Lordships Graffalo, were in a class of their own this weekend. They secured victory over Oliver by 15 penalties. But Oliver was delighted with his horse’s performance and consistency.

    “He’s my hero,” said Oliver. “Whenever I’m having a rough time, he comes to the front, that’s what good mates do. I can’t tell you how proud I am of him.”

    The 16-year-old, owned by Karyn Shuter, Angela Hislop and Val Ryan, was finishing runner-up for the second time here (2019). He also has an Olympic team gold medal in his cabinet.

    “He’s unreal, isn’t he?” Oliver said. “I’ve had too many seconds with him, bless him, we’ll put that down to the jockey! He is literally part of the family. It’s a huge relief to me that I haven’t mucked it up and he’s had another amazing result.”

    Ballaghmor Class had lowered four fences in the showjumping phase at the Pratoni World Championships last autumn, and this was a testing track if he was not on his game. When he knocked down the oxer at fence 3, it looked like a long way home to hold on to his position, but he made light work of it, adding just 0.4 of a time-fault.

    Earlier in the day, Ballaghmor Class’s groom Charlotte Holifield had won the Treehouse Sporting Colours grooms’ prize.

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