Dutch rider Tim Lips suffered a catalogue of disasters during his journey to this week’s Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (7-10 May).
The 29-year-old left his home near Breda in the Netherlands at 6am yesterday (Tuesday 5 May), with his mother Annette and groom Klara, plus his Badminton ride, the grey Keyflow NOP. The pair finished seventh at Badminton on their debut last year.
The journey to Calais would usually take three hours, but serious delays on the roads meant it took six.
“When we arrived we were told the weather was too bad and they weren’t taking any horses on the ferry, which I could understand as the wind was really blowing,” Tim told H&H.
The ferry officials suggested Tim try the Channel tunnel and, having phoned ahead, he joined the truck queue.
“We were waiting three hours in line and immigrants were trying to open the ramp and get in — that was the worst part, I was quite scared,” he said.
When Tim made it to pay the fare, his credit card got stuck in the machine for half an hour. Just when he thought things couldn’t get any worse, it turned out his lorry was not allowed on the train because he didn’t have the required paperwork.
The group contacted P&O, who said they might be able to get on a ferry between 6pm and 7pm, so they returned to the ferry terminal. However, by 8pm it was still impossible and they were told there was just a 1% chance of horses travelling by boat that night.
“We decided to go home — I said, this year, there’s no Badminton for me,” said Tim.
“We were on the way back and already in Belgium when my father [1992 Olympian Martin Lips] phoned me and said the Badminton organisers had had a brilliant idea. They suggested phoning John Parker [the international horse transporters] and asking then to take Keyflow by train.”
Tim sent Klara and Keyflow in the John Parker lorry and took his truck over on the ferry, which was permitted once there was no horse on it. Keyflow arrived at John Parker’s base in Hythe, Kent, at midnight, with Tim getting there at 3am.
After Keyflow had had five hours rest, the party set off for Badminton at 5am.
“We wanted to go before the traffic got bad around London and we had a good run, arriving at 9am,” said Tim.
“Yesterday was not a good day, but I’ve given Keyflow a little bit of exercise, just for about 15 minutes and he seems fine, so that’s the important thing.
“Three times we said this was the last thing we would try and then we were going home, but it’s Badminton, it’s not just a competition. We kept on trying and we made it. I will get my truck registered now so that I can take it on the train next time.”
Check back later for pictures of all the cross-country fences and a report of the first trot-up