Many of us watched dismayed as U.S rider Elisa Wallace coaxed her obviously exhausted horse over the last fence during the Badminton Mitsubishi Motors Cross Country phase and saw them crash to the ground as Simply Priceless lacked the energy to clear it. It was very sad to watch and afterwards the ground jury gave Wallace a yellow yard for 'Abuse of the horse.'
However, did many of you wonder, as we did, why those officials on the ground didn't make her pull up earlier?
Fortunately rider and horse were unhurt in the fall and In a statement on her Facebook page, Wallace said,
“I am OK as well, but I’m disappointed in myself for letting down my horse, my country, and my sport. I should have pulled him up. And I agree with the ground jury giving me a yellow card. I made a mistake that I will NEVER make again. I am lucky we are both unscathed. Johnny gave me everything today. I love my horse and my sport.”
Some horses really will give their all for us so it's important that not only riders but also the sports that we engage in don't abuse that generosity. However, before we all jump in to attack Wallace for what is obviously a bad judgement call, we should also ask ourselves if we have at some point when working towards a goal, however big or small, just gone that little bit too far and asked too much of our horse.
Fellow competitors erupted in spontaneous cheering as the brilliant New Zealand horseman Andrew Nicholson, 55, at last won the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, fourth leg of the FEI Classics™ after a record 37 attempts over 33 years.
‘Of course I knew I would win Badminton one day – I just didn’t know when!’ Andrew Nicholson
It was a jumping finale full of surprises as Nicholson, third after cross-country, pulled off a stunning clear round on the 17-year-old Nereo to leave the two German Olympians ahead of him – Michael Jung and overnight leader Ingrid Klimke – no room for manoeuvre.
Michael Jung (GER) & La Biosthetique Sam FBW Photo Jon Stroud Media/FEI
Jung’s La Biosthetique Sam, also a veteran 17-year-old, hit the back rail of the sixth fence, so the defending champion had to settle for the runner-up spot, but he now leads the FEI Classics™ series leaderboard. Then, to gasps from the fascinated crowd, Ingrid Klimke and Horseware Hale Bob hit the same fence and Klimke’s problems were compounded with a refusal at the treble, which dropped her to ninth.
‘I’m a bit unhappy about the mistake and it was, for sure, my mistake, but Sam has been superb all weekend.’ Michael Jung
New Zealanders Tim Price (Xavier Faer) and Sir Mark Todd with both his horses, NZB Campino and Leonidas ll, capitalised on clear jumping rounds and moved up to third, fourth and sixth.
There was a new British name in fifth place, 31-year-old Rosalind Canter, who had a superb Badminton debut on Allstar B. Gemma Tattersall (GBR) was delighted to jump clear for sixth place on Arctic Soul and Kristina Cook was at her vintage best in 10th place on Billy the Red.
Completing the international flavour was Japanese rider Yoshiaki Oiwa, whose long-term aim of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 will have been enhanced by eighth place on The Duke of Cavan.
A total of 46 completed the competition with 20 clear jumping rounds. There was disappointment for the British when Alexander Bragg’s Zagreb, eighth after a great cross-country, was withdrawn from the holding box at the final horse inspection.
Nicholson first rode at Badminton in 1984; he has since completed more times than any other rider, and has finished second, on Lord Killinghurst in 2004, and third, on Libby Sellar’s Spanish-bred chestnut gelding Nereo in 2013. He was in the lead on Nereo in 2015, but it all went wrong in the final phase.
His win is even more of a fairytale considering he broke his neck in a fall 18 months ago – the prospect of competing Avebury, his three-time Burghley winner, and Nereo was, he says, a strong motivation during his recovery.
Thibaut Vallette, 43, a member of France’s victorious Olympic team in Rio last year and an instructor at the legendary Cadre Noir in Saumur, has made a brilliant debut at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, fourth leg of the FEI Classics™. He leads the scoreboard after the first day of dressage at the 4* event on the 13-year-old Qing du Briot ENE HN, his only ride at this level, on a mark of 38.7, with the second half of the field competing today.
‘I didn’t expect to do this well, so I am very happy” he said “Coming here is a dream for any eventer. This is the best dressage test the horse has done this year, as we had some difficulties after Rio - the experience made him very tense. But it’s not going to be a dressage competition!”
The next four placed riders have years of experience and 4* wins under their belt. Veteran German team member Bettina Hoy, who is now the Dutch team trainer, was thrilled to be just 0.5 of a penalty behind in second place on her only top horse, Designer 10.
Defending champion Michael Jung, fresh from victory in Kentucky last weekend and currently second on the FEI Classics series leaderboard, admitted that he was feeling some pressure, and his test with the 17-year-old La Biosthetique Sam FBW did contain some tension, but they scored 40.0 penalties and are in third place.
However, all riders who have observed the handiwork of new course-designer Eric Winter agree that it will not be a dressage competition. There are only five combinations on the track, but there are plenty of old-fashioned big fences and some difficult lines designed to slow riders and test the strength of their partnerships with their horses.
“I am happy my horse is full of energy as that will be good for the cross-country and he is brilliant at that,' said Jung, who is currently second in the FEI Classics. ‘The conditions are perfect and I’m feeling motivated and looking forward to it.”
Vallette’s Olympic team mate Astier Nicolas, who many people have tipped to be only the second Frenchman to win Badminton (following Nicolas Touzaint in 2008), is in close contention in fourth place with his 2015 Pau winner Piaf de Bneville on 41.5.
Four-time Badminton winner Sir Mark Todd, 61, was thrilled with the performance of the 13-year-old Leonidas ll, currently in fifth on 42.9 after a mistake in the final halt.
Today, the second half of the field of 82 riders will perform their dressage tests, with strong performances anticipated from Karin Donckers (BEL) on Fletcha Van’T Verahof, Izzy Taylor (GBR) on KBIS Briarlands Matilda, Ingrid Klimke (GER) on Horseware Hale Bob OLD, Christopher Burton (AUS) on Graf Liberty and both Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson (NZL) on their second horses.
Elisa has visited the Avebury Wishing Tree ahead of the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.
“Making a wish there brought luck to me and Johnny at Burghley last year. We had to keep up the tradition and make another wish before Badminton as well.”
Elisa was joined by fellow Badminton rookie, Katherine Coleman, Caz Hewer, Rick Wallace, Briggs Surratt, and Timothy Harfield.
Elisa Wallace is travelling to Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials 2017 for the first time, from her home in Georgia, USA. Read her Badminton blog HERE
It's today! - The start of Badminton 2017. Good luck to every horse and rider and a special WHOOP! to all first timers, of whom 12 are GBR riders and they include the following snapped by Trot On's photographer...
Drawn order 92. Gubby Leach riding Xavier.
Drawn order 27. Sarah Parkes riding Balladeer Durban Hills
Drawn order 45. Imogen Murray riding Ivar Gooden
Drawn order 55. Kirsty Short riding Cossan Lad
Drawn order 23. Lydia Hannon riding My Royal Touch
Drawn order 103. Alexander Bragg riding Redpath Ransom (pictured) - he's also number 3. riding Zagreb
Drawn order 73. James Sommerville riding Talent
View the Full Accepted List of Entries HERE
Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW will be back at Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials this year to defend their title of 2016.
The Olympic gold medal champions, Jung and Sam have also confirmed that they will attend the Rolex 3DE in Kentucky in April - an attempt at the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing clearly on the way...
Meanwhile, riders from 12 nations have been named on the released list of 2017 Badminton entries with a strong contingent of riders from New Zealand in particular, Ireland and Australia including Chris Burton winner of Burghley Horse Trials in September 2016.
Gemma Tattersall and Arctic Soul, Badminton 2016.
The impressive line-up from Great Britain includes Gemma Tattersall with Arctic Soul who came 3rd in the event last year and is bound to be a strong contender. Other British riders in the mix include Oliver Townend, Pippa Funnell, Kitty King, Tina Cook and Laura Collett with debutantes Danni Dunn and Tom Jackson also in the mix.
Which fence design would you like to see at this year's Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials?
Back in December Badminton was delighted to invite eventing and design fans to enter the ‘Design the Final Fence’ competition, the first of its kind to be hosted by Badminton.
The three judges, Event Director Hugh Thomas, Media Director Julian Seaman and Cross Country Course Designer Eric Winter have now selected their favourite ten designs from all submissions and these ten have gone out to public vote from 15th – 28th February on the Badminton Horse Trials website.
“It was very difficult to get down to just 10 finalists, which were attractive, original, safe and affordable – the designs were all put before the judges anonymously and happily there was a huge measure of agreement on the top 10.” said Hugh Thomas.
“We should also mention that much as the quality of the drawings was impressive, the overall idea is more important than the illustration so bear that in mind when placing your vote!”
The most popular winning fence design will be announced on 1 March; it will then then be transformed into a fence by Olympic course builders, the Willis Bros, and will become the final fence on the 2017 course at Badminton which runs from Wednesday 3rd – Sunday 7th May with the cross country phase taking place on Saturday 6th.
Catching our photographer's eye, always looking so smart, bright red and white (grey) - the unmistakable pair of Paul Tapner and his Event Horse, Kilronan.
Very sadly, Tapner Eventing Team announced the news that Kilronan was put to sleep at the end of last week. His health and soundness had rapidly deteriorated over the winter months from a condition affecting his spine and central nervous system.
He was a highly sensitive soul in the stables, however, this sensitive nature completely vanished when he launched out of a XC start box, transforming into an exceptionally talented and brave XC horse, with an ability to make it all seem easy and effortless during his partnership with Paul.
Fondly known as Tom, Kilronan was an extremely successful Event Horse with numerous wins at every single level of British Eventing , alongside numerous wins at FEI 2* and 3* levels. He completed Badminton CCI4* three times, Burghley CCI4* twice and represented Australia at the World Equestrian Games in Normandy 2014. His highest achievement at 4* level of 4th place was at Badminton in 2014. Tom amassed a huge 1160 British Eventing Points during his career. He had been retired from 4* level of competition during 2016 and it had been planned to campaign him at 2* level this year with young rider Ben Edwards .
Members of the International Riders Clubs and the readers of Horse International have voted for Badminton as the Best Event (eventing) for the second time in three years, lifting this prestigious award in both 2014 and 2016.
“What makes this award special is that it is chosen by the international professionals in equestrian sport.” said Badminton Director, Hugh Thomas.
See the Badminton Top 12 finishers of 2016 in our Pictures HERE
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Congratulations to Michael Jung (GER) riding La Biosthetique – Sam FBW on winning The Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials 2016! He led the competition from the front and also claims the Rolex Grand Slam.
Info: Badminton Horse Trials is one of the toughest and most exciting equestrian events – the pinnacle of the world’s 3-Day-Event calendar.
It was the 10th Duke of Beaufort whose idea it was to hold an event in his Gloucestershire park in order that British riders could train for future international events. The first event was held in 1949. When Golden Willow won the first Badminton competition, there were 22 starters from two countries, Britain and Ireland. Since then Great Britain has won 3 team golds and 2 individual gold medals in the Olympics; 6 team golds and 5 individual gold medals in the World Championships, and no fewer than 21 team golds and 18 individual gold medals in the European Championships.
Final Results in full HERE
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