World no.1 Tim Price was philosophical about his seventh place finish at the Badminton Horse Trials, but confident there was plenty more to come from Vitali. “Clear rounds win prizes,” he said after their showjumping round saw three rails drop and slip off the podium on a score of 63.1 penalty points. “I was obviously disappointed with three on the floor. It was costly.” But he felt Vitali, who placed third at Burghley last year, had actually jumped a lot better than he had before at 5* level. The rails came at fences three and five a and b, and Tim said he thought it was going to be a long way home from that point. “He tried really hard from that point all the way home and jumped better than he had before at this level. You have to take the positives, and appreciate what these horse do for us, where they have come from and hopefully where they are going.” He felt Vitali had some more “proper results” coming. “I am excited to keep trying to bring the best out of him.” Vitali had scored 27.1 in the dressage for 11th =, moving up to fourth after adding 24 time penalties in a very influential cross country test, before slipping to seventh after the showjumping.
The day belonged to 2018 world champ Ros Canter (GBR) and Lordships Graffalo, who led from the start and gave a real masterclass in calmness under pressure with their 35.3-penalty point effort. Their 15-penalty point margin over runner-up Oliver Townend (GBR) and Ballaghmor Class, who finished on 50.3, is the most convincing Badminton victory in the modern era. Ros is one of only five riders in history to win both a Badminton title and World Championship crown.
Dan Jocelyn was the next best for the Kiwis, finishing in 21st place aboard Blackthorn Cruise and 25th on Cooley One To Many. Lauren Innes and Global Fision M squeezed in between his two mounts in 24th. On reflection, Dan was particularly chuffed to have just a single rail down in the showjumping test, which saw only two combinations come home clear and inside time, and only four jump clear. He and Blackthorn Cruise finished on 91.5 penalty points. “I couldn’t help but be disappointed with a rail down but having watched the rest of the class and how tough and influential the showjumping was, I realised he had done a great round to just have a rail at the end of the course like he did,” said Dan. “It was unusual for him to have a rail in what is usually his strong phase.”
Cooley One To Many finished on 98 after picking up both jump and time penalties in the showjumping. “He gave me everything in the showjumping which wouldn’t be his favourite phase. He tried his little heart out and over a tough track he was pretty much on par with a lot of very good horses.” It was a great result to finish on a horse he only started riding in January 2022. “We started with an open novice and here we are finishing a 5* at Badminton so I am thrilled to bits with him.”
Lauren and Global Fision M finished on 96 penalty points, having shot up the leaderboard from 63rd after the dressage. “He came out today feeling a lot fresher than last year and really tried,” she said. “Normally when he feels like that we jump clear so it was disappointing to have two rails, which he really didn’t deserve but given the number of poles that fell, even amongst some of the cleanest showjumpers on the circuit, I have to be pleased overall.” It had been a tough week with testing conditions, and Lauren was happy to get to the end and improve on their placing from last year despite less than ideal preparations.
Hollie Swain and Solo also clawed their way up the leaderboard from 62nd in the dressage to finish their first Badminton on 127.1. “He came out really jumping today and I could have helped him a little more,” she says. “For me, two down would have been great. The ground I think made a huge impact on the day and the results really speak for themselves.” She was delighted – and relieved – they had completed. “I have had so much support from the New Zealand camp – it has just been incredible to make the week as smooth as possible.”
Hollie was still buzzing about Solo’s cross country round. “It will be a round that I will remember forever. I am absolutely delighted to come out with a completion on the first time (at Badminton),” she said.
Caroline Powell’s rather promising looking Greenacres Special Cavalier lost a shoe in the showjumping but still finished the event. “I am incredibly proud of her at her first Badminton,” she said. “She is now wrapped up in cotton wool and on her way home!”
Muzi Pottinger and Just Kidding were eliminated in the cross country after parting company and will now re-route to the Luhmuhlen 5* next month, while Tim Price opted to withdraw Coup de Coeur Dudevin before the cross country.
Badminton 2023 will no doubt be remembered for the mud. “I have never seen such mud here,” said Tim Price. “Buggies and cars are stuck everywhere. The truck took an hour-and-a-half to get out with two tractors. They are using diggers and all sorts in the lorry park to get people out of their muddy holes and they haven’t even started on the camp site across the road where there are thousands of horse boxes and caravans marooned until the tractors come and tow them out.”
The horse details;
Vitali – owned by Joe and Alexander Giannamore and Tim Price
Coup de Coeur Dudevin – owned by Jean-Louis Stauffer
Solo – owned by John and Janette Bodenham and Emily Botsaris
Global Fision M – owned by the Innes Family Syndicate
Greenacres Special Cavalier – owned by Chris Mann
Cooley One to Many – owned by Lucy and Sophie Allison, Franki Clapham and Carole King
Blackthorne Cruise – owned by Panda Christie and Dan Jocelyn
Just Kidding – owned by the Pottinger Family
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Photos Libby Law ESNZ