Piggy March: ‘Ros Canter is the ultimate professional – every inch of her is proper class’


  • Top British event rider Piggy March on Badminton, worthy winners and safeguarding our sport

    The headline of Badminton for me was brilliant, brilliant Ros. Everyone says Lordships Graffalo – “Walter” – is the ultimate event horse, but for me Ros Canter is the ultimate event rider. I know her very well, she’s a great friend of mine, and every inch of her is proper class.

    She is the full package, albeit a small one, which came into her favour during a wet, muddy Badminton Horse Trials. She’s the ultimate professional and 110% deserves this win.

    I’ve called her “champ” ever since she became world champion in 2018, and she’s a champ for every reason – as a person, as an ambassador for the sport and as an unbelievable talent.

    “A worthy winner”

    Badminton follows Kentucky Three-Day Event, which was great to watch. There was a worthy winner in Tamie Smith; she and Mai Baum were beautiful to watch in every phase and it was such a great result for the Americans.

    Tom McEwen was a class act as always with JL Dublin. Well done to Nicola Wilson for all her years of producing the horse so beautifully.

    I felt for Yasmin Ingham and Banzai, but a blip never does any of us any harm, and I know it won’t affect their team selection in the future. I hope they don’t avoid Badminton every year as I think the pair have the temperament to cope and be part of the Gold Cup of eventing.

    Some great horsemanship

    Badminton was a very interesting event. I think Eric Winter built a good course. When I walked it – on very good ground – I would have said it would have been straightforward enough.

    However, the heavens opened on the Saturday. I was surprised that everyone was so confident the event would continue and that the cross-country distance and time would remain unaltered despite the conditions. Jumps were taken out accordingly; I wonder, though, if the length of the track should have been shortened.

    We have a sport to look after and I was concerned about what sort of pictures we would see from the cross-country. But riders really got to grips with what sort of a day it was and we saw some great horsemanship, especially from the older, most seasoned riders such as Pippa Funnell, Tim Price and William Fox-Pitt. Wills Oakden was a great pathfinder, showing he has a mature head on young shoulders and demonstrated his professionalism.

    Alex Bragg was another who did a superb job, even though he didn’t get to the end of the course. He set out to give it a go and attacked the track, but the moment Quindiva felt tired he put his hand up and saved her for another day. She would still have had a very valuable experience.

    Tom Crisp was brilliant and made the day when, after toppling off in The Lake, he turned face-first and did a bit of front crawl. It was great sportsmanship and made everyone smile.

    Future of eventing

    It’s worth every rider remembering that no matter how competitive you are, we must take responsibility for our sport and its future. With that comes disappointment, some days. We need to remember we are a community – our actions affect those around us.

    Two things that spring to mind are fitness and wet conditions. We need to make sure our horses are fit enough, but also, are we getting too precious?

    I ran at Thoresby on CCI4*-S cross-country day and the ground was wet but very safe. It might not have allowed the speedy run that some might have wanted, but we need to compete in the mud sometimes for horses – and riders, for that matter – to learn how to cope.

    It’s horses for courses and we all run when we feel we want to, but I spoke to Ros at Thoresby and she said she didn’t think Walter had ever run in the mud, so she wanted to educate and give him a nice experience in those conditions. How right was she?

    ● How can we better safeguard the future of eventing? Write to hhletters@futurenet.com, including your name, nearest town and county for the chance to have your views published in a future edition of Horse & Hound magazine

    • This exclusive column will also be available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 18 May

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