Countdown starts for Badminton Horse Trials as top riders gear up for the challenge

March 29 2015

NINE former winners are among the entries for the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, with Aussie Sam Griffiths returning to defend his title with his stable star Paulank Brockagh.

NINE former winners are among the entries for the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, with Aussie Sam Griffiths returning to defend his title with his stable star Paulank Brockagh.
All of the British riders who won team silver at London 2012 have entered, headed by William Fox-Pitt.
But although Zara Phillips is among them, it is anticipated that she will instead take High Kingdom to the big Kentucky event in late April and only go to Badminton if the USA trip doesn’t come off.
With a maximum of 85 horses to run over the four days of the international, some riders are currently on the inevitable waiting list.
But this year it is shorter than usual, with only 14 having to wait for someone to drop out in order to get a run.
The tough cross-country challenge produced by new course designer Giuseppe Della Chiesa in 2014 - praised by many riders for putting the phase back at the heart of the competition – may have led to some competitors to re-assess whether they are ready for the test.
Surprisingly, crowd favourite Mary King is on the waiting list with Kings Temptress but the horse was out with an injury last season so is lower in the points league that determines order of acceptance.
Eventing’s leading players all feature in the line-up, with New Zealand’s strong side including Andrew Nicholson, Mark Todd, Jonelle Price and Jock Paget.
Nicholson, despite holding the record for the number of completions, has yet to win Badminton but has a big chance with Avebury and Nereo.
As well as Grfifiths, Australia has past winners Paul Tapner and Andew Hoy, while world and Olympic team gold medallist Ingrid Klimke is looking for success with Horseware Hale Bob.
Oliver Townend, the last British winner, returns with Armada to go one better than last year’s runner-up slot and Pippa Funnell relies on Redesigned and Second Supreme to earn her another Badminton title.
Nick Gauntlett, the most local rider at the event, will take El Grado and Crown Talisman from his Chipping Sodbury yard.
Gauntlett recently helped a British side take third place in the opening Nations Cup eventing competition of the season with Crown Talisman in Fontainebleau, France.
The main Badminton contest will run from May 7-10, with two days of dressage, followed by the cross-country and the final show jumping.
It will be preceded by the now annual grassroots championships for amateur riders, with the park also open to the public on Wednesday, May 6.