Oliver Townend’s Grand Slam bid is over as he withdraws from Badminton

  • The dream of the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing is over for Oliver Townend for this year as the British rider has withdrawn his sole ride, Ballaghmor Class, from this week’s Mars Badminton Horse Trials (8-12 May).

    The world number one won Kentucky Three-Day Event last month and Burghley Horse Trials last year, so was set to make a serious attempt to take the big-money bonus on offer to any rider who can win these three five-stars consecutively. Ballaghmor Class – known as Thomas – has a brilliant five-star record and would have started as one of the favourites at Badminton.

    In a statement released by Badminton Horse Trials and on his own social media, Oliver Townend said: “Absolutely gutted to withdraw Ballaghmor Class from this week’s Mars Badminton Horse Trials. He had an abscess earlier in the season and consequently missed a couple of runs and gallops. This morning he went for his final gallop and with the 11min 30sec cross-country course combined with the possible soft ground we don’t feel he’s at his normal five-star fitness right now.

    “This is the first time in his career he’s missed a five-star and with the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing being at stake (for the third time for me!) and Thomas’s record with 10 top-five placings at five-star, four of which are from Badminton including twice second place, and his three wins at Burghley and Kentucky, we really hoped he would finally get the Badminton trophy he so badly deserves.

    “He’s fit and well, and knowing his huge heart he’d give us his all, but it’s simply not in his best interest to run this week and his welfare is our top priority.

    “Thomas will be rerouted to plan B but for now we’d like to give a huge thanks to his owners, our sponsors and our team who are all equally gutted but support us to make this call to look after our superstar.”

    The 17-year-old Ballaghmor Class, owned by Karyn Shuter, Angela Hislop and Val Ryan, was a team gold medallist for Britain at the last Olympics. Oliver will now look to re-route him as he bids for selection for Paris 2024 this summer, for which Oliver also has Kentucky winner Cooley Rosalent in the running.

    Oliver Townend had previously withdrawn his other two entries from Badminton Horse Trials.

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