‘There are no tears and sobbing, this is the right thing to do’: William Fox-Pitt announces retirement at Badminton

  • The fairytale ending did not come to fruition for William Fox-Pitt at the 2024 Mars Badminton Horse Trials, after which he announced his retirement, but he still received a great send off from both spectators and his fellow riders alike.

    He had already indicated that this was “probably his last Badminton” and the signs were good for a magical finale as he went into the final day’s showjumping in second, with only Tim Price’s Vitali – an unreliable showjumper at CCI5* – ahead of him. But although William’s ride Grafennacht jumped well through the first section of the course, it started to unravel at halfway, and they wound up with six down to drop down the order to 13th.

    “It wasn’t my day, but I’ve had these moments before and it will all be fine tomorrow,” said William. “At least it was properly not my day – there were no ifs and buts and maybes and on to the next one, because I won’t be coming back to Badminton. It’s a shame to finish on a bit of a downer but I’m cool with that.

    “That will be it. It’s a tricky one to say, but I’m 55 and I’ve had a great time. I’m in one piece, and I’m lucky to be in once piece.”

    However, William hasn’t ruled out ever leaving the startbox again: “That’s it for this level but I’m going to do the young ones and carry on a bit. This is the last Badminton for sure.”

    Grafennacht, on whom he conjured such a brilliant cross-country round the previous day, is only 12, and William assured that she will be continuing in the sport.

    “It won’t be her last Badminton; she’ll be back and she might jump better next year,” he said. “We’ll find a new better, younger rider – she needs younger bones on her back – and it will be good. I haven’t even had the discussion with her owner yet though she’s very aware that I’m 55. So we’ll have whatever conversation and make a plan – she’s a lovely horse and she was amazing yesterday. It was a shame we had to jump today.”

    While it was no dream ending, in time William can look back at a week which saw him riding as well as ever, and he attended the prize giving to collect his fifth Armada dish, having now completed Badminton an incredible 26 times.

    “I’ve really loved it,” he said. “I’ve been so lucky to have so many supporters, it’s been a great send-off. It wasn’t dream time today, but the chances of that were always fairly slim. We enjoyed the moment yesterday. There’s no tears and sobbing – I’m very matter of a fact about it: this is the right thing to do.”

    How to watch back Badminton Horse Trials

    If you are interested in watching the live action from Badminton Horse Trials from the comfort of your home, wherever you are in the world, you will need to subscribe to Badminton TV. To sign up, visit watch.badminton-horse.tv – click the “Sign Up” link in the top right corner of your screen, then follow the instructions. An annual subscription to Badminton TV costs £19.99 via the website and gives you 365 days of access to all of the content in the Badminton TV library, the ability to watch the action live, and the option to replay all of this year’s action later. Find out more…

    Enjoy the best of Badminton with Horse & Hound

    To ensure you keep up to date with all the breaking news, behind the scenes insight, and the best of the action throughout Badminton Horse Trials with no limits on how much you can read, subscribe to the Horse & Hound website from as little as £1 a week. Sign up now. And don’t miss our bumper 22-page magazine report on Badminton, including in-depth analysis and exclusive comments from top names, in the issue of Horse & Hound dated 16 May.

    You may also be interested in…

    You may like...