All eyes turn to the UK this week for the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials – the world’s premier CCI4* three day event. Last year four Kiwi combinations were in the top six, with Andrew Nicholson and Nereo taking the prestigious crown for the first time, Tim Price and Xavier Faer were third, with Sir Mark Todd fourth aboard NZB Campino and sixth on Leonidas II. And there is another very strong New Zealand representation at the 2018 event, which is held in South Gloucester each year.
Andrew Nicholson made history last year when he – finally – notched his first Badminton crown on his 37th completion of the event. He again lines up with his well-performed Spanish-bred chestnut Nereo and will be keen to notch back-to-back victories. The head-to-head – again – between Nicholson and double Olympic champ Michael Jung (GER) aboard La Biosthetique Sam – FBW is one of the anticipated highlights of Badminton this year.
Sir Mark Todd has four Badminton wins to his credit – the last in 2011 aboard NZB Land Vision. He has two entered for 2018, in the consistent Leonidas II, who was fourth at Badminton in both 2015 and 2016, and the Irish-bred Kiltubrid Rhapsody.
Caroline Powell’s best effort at Badminton is fourth on the mighty Lenamore in 2008. This year she lines up with Up Up and Away and On the Brash. Twelve-year-old Up Up and Away has drawn one, and is an Irish sport horse who has been produced through the grades by Powell. The combination had their first four star completion at Pau last year. On the Brash, who is also a 12-year-old Irish sport horse, will be chasing his first four star completion at Badminton.
It is the second year on the trot that Dan Jocelyn has entered his 12-year-old Irish sport horse Dassett Cool Touch. Last year the Kiwi combo placed 29th. Jocelyn had his first start at Badminton in 1999, when he placed eighth aboard Silence. Since then he has had four other starts.
Husband and wife Tim and Jonelle Price are certainly a duo to watch at Badminton. Tim and Ringwood Sky Boy have had four starts at Badminton. He was third last year on Xavier Faer, but will be looking to go better with 14-year-old Sky Boy who he has produced very carefully through the grades.
Jonelle has her striking and very speedy black mare Classic Moet, on whom she was fourth at the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandie. They were also third at Burghley in 2016.
There are also two very excited New Zealand eventers who are making their débuts at Badminton this year – Andy Daines on Spring Panorama and Virginia Thompson on Star Nouveau. Daines, who is currently based with William Fox-Pitt, is counting the sleeps until he and Spring Panorama get to challenge one of the world’s greatest courses. With two four star completions under his belt, he feels he is ready, with ‘Peter Perfect’ also ready for action. Thompson and Star Nouveau made their four star début at Adelaide last year and are also chomping at the bit for Badminton to get underway.
It is course designer Eric Winter’s second year in the hot seat and he’s opted for the traditional line by reversing the direction of the cross country.
Eventing great Lucinda Green has described it as “another cracking good Badminton course”.
“I can see that some may in their boldness, say it is possibly a little bit less demanding than last year but I think it is very sufficient in its demands,” she says. “I think it is different in its flavour. I think it is more flowing. I think you have got a start that gives your horse more chance to get into it – doesn’t mean to say this is easy at the beginning either.”
And she likes the feel, saying the eventing community are now used to Winter.
“He shocked us last year. We weren’t used to these angles and now we have been a year practising them. My feeling is has given us a proper good Badminton course – a proper good four star and a horse who hasn’t got a really big heart and wants to do it isn’t going to have much fun. And that is the test at the top end . . . both horse and rider really want to do it. If they do they are going to have the most amazing experience.”
Two-time winner Fox-Pitt and Fernhill Pimms were on the wait list until Nicholson withdrew Jet Set, opening up a space for the Brit combination. The star-studded entry list includes riders from 18 nations.
The competition starts with the first horse inspection on Wednesday (May 2), with the dressage running Thursday and Friday, the cross country on Saturday and the showjumping on Sunday. The winner will pocket £100,000.
Up Up and Away
owned by Cameron and Mary Crawford and Caroline Powell
Peter Cattell, Diane Brunsden and Sir Mark Todd
Dassett Cool Touch
Therese Miller and Dan Jocelyn
David Daines, Leanne Jenson Daines and Andy Daines
Ringwood Sky Boy
Varenna Allen, Robert Taylor and Tim Price
Anthony Quirk, Elaine Butterworth and Virginia Thompson
Trisha Rickards and Jonelle Price
Niki Ryan and Elizabeth Donald
On the Brash
Sarah Tobey and Sue Smiley
First Horse Inspection
Wed 2nd May 4.30pm
Thur 3rd 3.30am
Dressage Day One
Thur 3rd 9.00am – 5.00pm
Thur 3rd 8.00pm – 4.00am
Dressage Day Two
Fri 4th May 9.00am – 5.00pm
Sat 5th 8.00pm – 4.00am
Sat 5th May 11.30am – 5.00pm
Sat 5th 10.30pm – 4.00am
Jumping – First Part
Sun 6th May 11.30am
Sun 6th 10.30pm
Jumping – Top 20
Sun 6th May 2.45pm
Mon 7th 1.45am
CLICK HERE to watch all the coverage FREE via Badminton TV including the First Horse Inspection
MORE INFO: www.badminton-horse.co.uk
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Photos by Libby Law/ESNZ