World’s best head for Badminton to take up top equestrian challenge

April 27 2015

ONE of the biggest events in the sporting calendar is about to get under way with the launch of the 2015 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.

Horse race

ONE of the biggest events in the sporting calendar is about to get under way with the launch of the 2015 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.
Leading riders from around the world will make their bid to add their name to the famous trophy, with some 80 horse and rider combinations in the line-up.
They include Olympic, world and European championship partnerships, with Kristina Cook, William Fox-Pitt and Nicola Wilson among the home side hoping to claim the title for Britain for the first time since 2009.
Oliver Townend, who won the event that year, rides Armada in an attempt to regain the title but last year’s champion, Australia’s Sam Griffiths, has two chances of keeping the silverware with his 2014 winner Paulank Brockagh and London 2012 ride Happy Times.
Other recent winners – New Zealand’s Mark Todd and Jock Paget, together with Aussie Paul Tapner – also made the cut.
But one of the most determined riders is Andrew Nicholson, who holds the record for 33 Badminton completions but has never yet won.
The Kiwi has had to withdraw his stable star, Avebury, from this year’s event but still has a strong duo in Nereo and Calico Joe.
Pippa Funnell has also qualified two horses, Redesigned and Second Supreme, while Mary King is hoping to get off the waiting list with Kings Temptress. Chipping Sodbury’s Nick Gauntlett rides Crown Talisman and El Grado.
After two days of dressage, riders will tackle the second cross-country course designed by Italian Giuseppe Della Chiesa, which was unveiled at a recent preview.
Going in the opposite direction to last year, he said he had produced what was meant to be a flowing route over the 31 obstacles that cover four miles.
The first real test comes at Huntsman’s Close, with the first of four water obstacles two fences further on at the southern end of the lake.
The feature lake fences are set to attract the usual crowds, while riders will be happy to only have to cross the Vicarage Ditch once, at the Mirage Pond.
Another pond, used for the first time last year, will be approached from a different direction to 2014 and once cleared, leads horses and riders onto the final third of the course.
Approaching the last part of the track, fences 25 and 26 have been named after Badminton’s chosen charity, Sense, and feature a trio of silver birch parallels on a tight right curve.
Della Chiesa said competitors would then be given a bit of an ease down towards the finishing line, although the steeply angled Rolex Presentation Boxes obstacle was “a last serious test of steering”.
The main international runs from May 7-10 but Badminton park will also be open on May 6 for the amateur Grassroots Championships.
A new-look trade stand area, with its huge number of shops, will be open for all five days.