Top Badminton contender withdraws: ‘I’m not 100% — I can’t do the horses justice’

  • Tina Cook has withdrawn all her horses from this week’s Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (2-6 May) as she has not fully recovered from dislocating her shoulder at Burnham Market at the end of March.

    “It’s a very difficult decision, but I’ve run out of time,” she told H&H. “I’ve made amazingly good progress and had so much support from the team doctor and physios, who have all been working really hard to get me right, but I just don’t feel I’m going to do the horses justice by cross-country day on Saturday.

    “Any horse can have a trip or a slip where you have to sit up quickly or make a quick reaction or movement and I don’t believe my shoulder is strong enough to react if such a situation arises, which it would do at that level — there’s no such thing as the perfect round. I could damage myself just having to make a quick reaction and if I had a fall, it could set me right back in my preparation for the Worlds.”

    Tina had three horses entered for Badminton, Star Witness, Calvino II and Billy The Red and would be a strong contender for the British team for the World Equestrian Games (WEG) in September. She has been riding two or three horses at home each day for the past week.

    “All three horses are fit and well, which has made the decision even harder — I have a really good team at home who have kept the horses ticking over,” she added. “I’m so nearly right, but it’s just too much of a risk when I’ve got world-class horses to look forward to for the rest of the year.

    “I’m 85% right and that made it so tempting to think I could be good enough by Saturday, which is why I’ve left the decision to the last minute, but I don’t believe I can be 100% by Saturday. I’ve ridden round Badminton many times and I know you need to be 100% fit; you can’t be a passenger.”

    Tina explained that in addition to ligament and tendon damage, she suffered some bone damage where the muscle attaches to the bone when the arm pulled out of its socket.

    She may now target her horses at the German four-star at Luhmühlen (14-17 June).

    “All three of them could have been competitive at Badminton, which means there are other options for them — I am in contention for WEG, so I need to be on my A game and I just needed another week or two‚” said Tina, who will still go to Badminton and hopes to pick up some commentary work at the event, something she has done before.

    “I’ve let a lot of people down — owners and sponsors — but I’ve got to look at the bigger picture, which is getting fit for the Worlds, rather than taking the risk of being sidelined for longer,” she said.

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    Other recent Badminton withdrawals include Ireland’s Aoife Clark — who broke her collarbone cross-country schooling young horses yesterday — with Master Rory, Australia’s Bill Levett and Alexander NJ, France’s Aurelien Leroy with Seashore Spring and Denmark’s Hanne Wind Ramsgaard and Vestervangs Arami.

    Full report from Kentucky in H&H next week (issue dated 3 May).

    Pick up the current issue of H&H (dated 26 April) for our Badminton preview, including course walk with Mary King and form guide for every horse and rider.

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