‘She has given me my best days of my life competing’: defending champions throw down the gauntlet after Badminton Horse Trials cross-country

  • Piggy March and reigning Badminton champion Vanir Kamira have gone into an early lead at the Badminton Horse Trials cross-country, an event which is supported by Mars Equestrian. They were just one second over the 11min 44sec optimum time, adding 0.4 of a time-penalty to their 25.7 dressage.

    “It was good, but it’s hard work – it felt hard work all the way to the end and is very intense,” said Piggy, who spent longer in the warm-up than she would usually owing to the hold on course following Nicola Wilson’s fall with JL Dublin. “She’d been out in the collecting ring for a long time – she’s never usually out there for longer than 20 minutes before she starts, and even though I was off her and she did switch off, it’s still not what we used to and she just didn’t travel very well for the first two minutes to Huntsman’s Close [fence 6ABC].

    “She then caught a knee in Huntsman’s at the first part quite badly so I left there and actually gave her a little bit of a reminder to say ‘come on Tilly Bean, we’re are at the races today – we’re not just training’. Then then by the time she got to the lake and all the crowds were there, she picked up, but I was down on the time. I don’t think there was anywhere through the middle that we could have made up any time though. We were hammer and tongs the whole way with the right amount of respect for each fence.

    “It just felt hard work and I was trying to encourage her; it was an effort but she finished well. She’s an amazing little horse – she has given me my best days of my life competing. She’s finished well and I’m very proud of her.”

    The United States’ Tamra Smith and Mai Baum, who were fifth after the dressage, jumped clear across country but incurred 11.2 time-faults.

    “He was super. I didn’t really know what to think because obviously the first couple of rides were a little bit rough, but I knew what not to do, so we just stuck to the plan and he was super – he answered everything. I think I was more afraid of the Vicarage Vee than he was!” said Tamie after her Badminton Horse Trials cross-country round. “He has this stigma around him that he’s not a great cross-country horse but for me he’s the best horse in the frickin’ world and it was like riding a magic carpet – I couldn’t be more proud.”

    New Zealand’s Amanda Pottinger and Just Kidding, who is a pure thoroughbred, by Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, also jumped clear across country, adding 18.4 time-faults to their 25.9 dressage.

    “That felt like proper cross-country riding. I came in with a plan and I don’t think I stuck to the plan at all. You just had to ride what was in front of you,” said Amanda afterwards. “This is a big, big track for him as he’s only a little horse and he doesn’t have a load of scope, so if I had to make him work hard somewhere, I tried to look after him somewhere else.”

    Read our full Badminton form guide in this week’s issue of Horse & Hound (issue dated 5 May 2022). Our bumper 20-page Badminton report will be in our 12 May issue and keep fully up-to-date with all the action during Badminton week via horseandhound.co.uk, where a host of features and reports will be published.

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