‘More magical than I could expect’: US riders reflect on final day of Badminton with a top-10 rosette and a handful of completions

  • Five US riders completed on the final day, contesting the showjumping phase at Badminton Horse Trials. There were two clear rounds among the American competitors, courtesy of Tamie Smith and Ariel Grald. Tamie, the highest-placed US rider after both of the previous phases, produced one of just four clear rounds inside the time at the event, which is presented by Mars Equestrian. Horse & Hound caught up with the US finishers.

    Badminton Horse Trials final day: US riders’ review

    Tamie Smith and Mai Baum, ninth on 36.5

    Tamie’s clear round inside the time was only the second of the day when she rose from 15th to ninth spot on the beautifully athletic Mai Baum. She met every fence perfectly, clearing each one by inches.

    “You don’t know what they are going to do after a big track like [yesterday’s] but I am just so proud of him,” said Tamie. “The crowd lifted him, buoyed him up over those jumps, it was good.”

    Tamie came here directly from Kentucky CCI5*, where she had retired her mare Fleeceworks Royal on the cross-country course.

    “I came here a little deflated, but you have to put that behind you, not knowing what to expect, but knowing this horse is capable of performing unbelievably,” said Tamie, 47. “It was more magical than I could expect. My best friend and I grew up watching VHS tapes of Badminton, so to get here finally and have that kind of performance is a dream come true.”

    Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan, 15th on 43.8

    US riders Badminton Horse Trials: Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan

    Ariel Grald trots up Leamore Master Plan at Badminton’s final horse inspection.

    Ariel backed up Saturday’s cross-country clear with a super round over the showjumps on the Irish-bred Leamore Master Plan, just adding 0.4 of a time-fault.

    “He’s very trustworthy on the final day; he really is a good jumper and he tries his heart out,” she said. “It’s almost more nerve-wracking because I know the only way it’s going to go wrong is if I mess him up, but when he jumped the first two I just had so much confidence in his jump; he felt amazing off the ground. That two-tenths of a second was just me taking an extra tug.”

    Ariel is planning to come back for Burghley, where they finished 10th in 2019.

    “Badminton was just incredible. I keep going to new places, like Luhmühlen and Aachen, that neither I nor my horse have been to before. Each place is so incredible, and I’m just learning so much. Badminton feels more intense, the crowds are so much in your face, you’re in the thick of it, even hacking around.

    “He’s my first four- and five-star horse, and I bought him as a green five-year-old, so we’ve come on together. He’s quirky and sensitive, so I have to keep figuring out the puzzle pieces and how to get a better dressage out of him because I know it’s in there.”

    Phillip Dutton and Z, 26th on 52

    Philip’s thrill of riding a great cross-country round turned to disappointment when Z knocked down two showjumps on the final day. From 25th after cross-country, the eight faults cost him one place.

    “He was pretty wound up; he’s been wound up all weekend,” said Phillip. “So it was not our best round – a bit disappointing.”

    Will Faudree and Mama’s Magic Way, 31st on 58

    Will had two showjumps down and was just a second outside the time for 0.4 of a time-fault on the 11-year-old Mighty Magic-sired gelding. He moved up from 74th to 35th after cross-country, and despite the 8.4 faults moved up a few more places to 31st.

    “He was very excited, he acted like he didn’t do anything yesterday,” said Will. “They blew the whistle early, and I had wanted to walk him round a bit to have a look, but I was in too much of a hurry. Coming to the first jump, I was like, ‘look at the jump’ – he was busy looking at the crowd, so happy everyone had come to watch him.

    “He jumped super though. The B element of seven that he had down was because I tried to micromanage him rather than let him do what he does best, so I take the blame. He’s a horse for the future and he will have grown up a lot.”

    The last time Will came to Badminton was 17 years ago, riding Antigua – who passed away almost exactly a year ago.

    “It’s an honour to be back here,” he added. “The horse has so much talent and ability. I’ve ridden a lot of phenomenal horses in my life, but he is one of the nicest I’ve ever sat on and I’m going to do everything in my power to be in the winner’s enclosure next time I come here. I just have to fix the first and last phases. And next time I won’t hack him out when the BE100 is going cross-country!”

    Emily Hamel and Corvett, 52nd on 98.3

    US riders Badminton Horse Trials: Emily Hamel and Corvett

    Emily Hamel trots up Corvett at Badminton’s final horse inspection.

    Emily was the very first rider into the ring on Corvett, having had a run-out on the cross-country the previous day. The horse looked full of spring, and just tapped the planks which came down for four faults, plus 1.2 time-faults.

    These were the only US riders to compete after Lillian Heard (LCC Barnaby) and Matthew Flynn’s (Wizzerd) challenge came to an end on cross-country day.

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