‘I’m in a dreamworld’: Badminton winner Laura Collett reflects on record-breaking victory

  • Laura Collett was a child, watching on her aunt’s shoulders, when her Badminton Horse Trials dream was ignited by seeing Pippa Funnell’s victory at the Gloucestershire five-star.

    Today (8 May), that childhood dream became both a reality and a record. Badminton called, and London 52 and Laura answered by posting the best finishing score in the event’s history (21.4).

    “I’m in a serious dreamworld. I felt like that from day one. I made myself promise that I would just enjoy every moment and it’s easy when it’s going like that!” said Laura, 32, on the video above.

    “He really helped me out in there. Nothing really came up on anything I was wanting and he just jumped higher and higher. He is an unbelievable horse.”

    As Badminton returned from its three-year slumber, the dreamworld became a reality. This is the second five-star title for the pair, who scooped their first at Pau 2020 and were part of the gold medal-winning British team in Tokyo last year. It is such stuff as dreams are made on, but five-stars and medals are not granted on wishes. Rather it was paid for by a world-class performance by a horse and rider, whose tenacity and talent are a recipe for alchemy.

    “This morning it hit me,” Laura added, reflecting on her cross-country round after her win. “I think I was in total shock yesterday. I woke up and I cried solidly for about two hours just because I was so proud of what he had achieved.”

    Laura and the 13-year-old Landos gelding, who she co-owns with Keith Scott and Karen Bartlett, led from the first phase and had a fence in hand on the final day, which they did not need. The pair stopped the clock one second over the time allowed to add 0.4 of a showjumping time-penalty to their dressage mark of 21, winning by a margin of 4.6 penalties.

    This year’s final scoreboard also features the first British one-two-three since the day Laura was inspired by watching Pippa Funnell win Badminton in 2002 aboard Supreme Rock.

    Ros Canter and the 10-year-old rising star Lordships Graffalo, owned by Michele Saul, were rewarded for their flawless jumping performances to rise from 10th after dressage to take the runner-up spot at the 2022 event, presented by Mars Equestrian.

    “Walter’s eyes were on stalks when we arrived but he enjoyed every part of it – especially the prize giving. He will have learnt so much in the last few days,” said Ros.

    The British-bred son of Rock King has a stellar four-star record, with two wins and two second places, and showed how exciting he now is as a five-star horse – for today, and for future.

    Oliver Townend had two top-five placings, claiming third with the first of his two greys, the 14-year-old Irish gelding Swallow Springs, owned by Paul and Diana Ridgeon. The pair were in second after cross-country, with a rolled pole nudging them down to third (29.7).

    Oliver and his Tokyo Olympic gold medallist Ballaghmor Class, owned by Karyn Shuter and Angela Hislop, also tipped a rail, and added 0.4 of a time-penalty, to their scoresheet, to finish fifth on 30.3.

    Defending champion Piggy March was delighted with the performance of her 2019 title winner, Trevor Dickens’ Vanir Kamira, who rolled one pole to finish fourth on 30.1.

    “I think that’s the best ‘Tilly’ has ever jumped. She left her heart out on the cross country course yesterday so I was a bit worried today, but shouldn’t have been,” added Piggy, who was among the riders – including Laura – to send their thoughts and best wishes to Nicola Wilson, who was taken to hospital after a cross-country fall with JL Dublin on Saturday.

    Badminton first-timers David Doel and Galileo Nieuwmoed, 32nd after dressage, rocketed up the leaderboard with two confident jumping rounds to take sixth place.

    “Wasn’t he mega? I can’t thank my team at home enough for helping me to get here,” said David.

    European team gold medallists Kitty King and Vendredi Biats were seventh (34), with Irishman Austin O’Connor and Colorado Blue in eighth (36.3). US first-timer Tamie Smith took ninth with Mai Baum (36.5), while Alfies Clover completed the quintet of greys in the top 10 under rider Richard Jones on a score of 38.4.

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