Sam Griffiths has withdrawn 2014 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials winner Paulank Brockagh from this year’s Badminton (1-5 May).
The Australian rider has decided to take the 16-year-old mare, who belongs to Dinah and Stephen Posford, Jules Carter and Sam, to the German five-star (previously four-star) at Luhmühlen (13 to 16 June) instead, with a view to aiming her at the 2020 Olympics.
“I have half an eye on Tokyo and Badminton is such a taxing event,” Sam told H&H. “She’s done it six times and doesn’t need to prove herself, so I thought it was better to campaign her to go to Luhmühlen.”
If Paulank Brockagh had completed Badminton this time, she would have joined Ballycotton, Comanche, Lenamore and Over To You as the only horses to record seven finishes at the event.
Sam admitted: “Part of me is torn, but I spoke to a few people and they said not to think of those records, but to think what’s best for the horse and we’ve decided that’s best for her.”
The rider still has a Badminton ride in Billy Liffy, who belongs to Viscount and Viscountess Rothermere and Sam. The 12-year-0ld chestnut gelding was a new ride for Sam last year.
“The two horses are very different to ride, so it also made sense to focus on each of them individually,” said Sam. “I’ve ridden Paulank Brockagh for about 10 years so I know her inside out, whereas Billy Liffy is quite sharp and spicy, so I have to be more sensitive with how I ride.”
Seven other horses have also been pulled out of Badminton so far. Britain’s Alex Bragg has taken Barrichello and Shannondale Percy out of the running, but he will still line up on Zagreb. The home side’s Georgie Spence has withdrawn Wii Limbo, while she still has Halltown Harley in the mix.
Fly Away V/D N Ranch, the ride of Sweden’s Anna Freskgård, has also been withdrawn. From the waiting list, France’s Pascal Leroy has withdrawn Minos De Petra and Britain’s Kate Honey will not compete with Fernhill Now Or Never.
The first withdrawal from Badminton this year was in tragic circumstances as Ireland’s Sian Coleman’s intended ride Kilroe Hero died as a result of a freak accident in his field at home soon after returning from competing at Belton.
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The riders accepted from the Badminton waiting list as a result of withdrawals at this point comprise four for the home side — Nicholas Lucey (Proud Courage), Katie Preston (Templar Justice), Simon Grieve (Drumbilla Metro) and Nicky Hill (MGH Bingo Boy) — and one for the USA, Tamra Smith with Wembley.
Don’t miss H&H’s Badminton preview issue, including cross-country course walk with world champion Ros Canter (out 25 April), and our form guide issue with details of every horse and rider competing (out 2 May).