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 There was disappointment for the British when Alexander Bragg’s Zagreb, eighth after a great cross-country, was withdrawn from the holding box at the final horse inspection.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.
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
Germany’s Michael Jung smashed yet another record when winning the Kentucky Three-Day Event for the third year running on the 12-year-old FischerRocana, a mare that may not have the biggest movement but certainly has the biggest heart.
Jung did have a jumping fence down, but his supremacy in the dressage and cross-country meant he could afford it and is second in the FEI Classics™ after three out of six legs behind the superbly talented Frenchman Maxime Livio (FRA), who finished runner-up at Kentucky on Qalao Des Mers with a clear jumping round.
“She is a really wonderful horse, a top fighting girl,” said Jung of “Roxy”. “She jumped wonderfully and was only a bit spooky at the white fence. I really like Kentucky – and not just because I win here! - but because I feel very welcome. You can train the horse for every phase and it’s why I like it and why I come back.”
With one FEI Classics™ win each, and a second place each, Livio and Jung both have their sights firmly on the 2016/17 series title. However only Jung is competing at Badminton next weekend, fourth leg of the series, which could be his opportunity to step up to top the leaderboard.
Zara Tindall (GBR) riding High Kingdom during the Rolex Kentucky 3-Day Event at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, April 30, 2017. (Rebecca Berry/FEI)
Both Livio and Zara Tindall, the only British athlete in the field, finished on their dressage scores. Tindall was ecstatic with her third place after a beautiful clear round on High Kingdom and it must have laid the ghost of the disappointment two years when she had to withdraw before dressage when the horse suffered a freak injury.
Matthew Brown (USA) slipped from fourth to sixth after hitting the very first rail with BCF Super Socks, so it was the super-consistent Phillip Dutton (USA), who has now completed Kentucky an amazing 40 times, who captured yet another national title as highest placed USA rider, as he moved up to fourth with a clear round on the 18-year-old Mr Medicott, a horse having his last four-star run after an illustrious career. Hannah Sue Burnett (USA) was fifth on Under Suspection.
The Kentucky three-peat was Jung’s 10th four-star win – William Fox-Pitt holds the record with 14 – and the German Olympic champion, who is only 34, looks to be catching up with the Briton. Just hours after his triumph on American soil Jung was catching a flight to England en route to defending his title at Badminton next weekend.
A record number of spectators watched the 4* Eventing action this year at Kentucky, with 34,000 attending cross country and 24,000 at the jumping finale.
See full results HERE
In a result that surprises no one, Germany’s Michael Jung is once again sitting atop the leaderboard at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Land Rover. He added just 1.6 time penalties to his dressage score to lead with FischerRocana FST with a score of 38.7. He has a rail in hand over France’s Maxime Livio and Qalao Des Mers in second (44.6) and England’s Zara Tindall and High Kingdom in third (46.6).
Standing in fourth is U.S. rider Matthew Brown and Super Socks BCF (47.8), who leads the Rolex/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship. Taking home an extra prize is U.S. rider Erin Sylvester aboard Mettraise, who thanks to her perfect round finishing on the optimum time, receives a two-year lease on a 2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport as the Land Rover Best Ride of the Day.
Though he is sitting in first, Jung did not have his signature perfect round as his mare got a few funny distances.
“I think that’s cross-country,” said Jung, 34, Horb, Germany. “You never know what will happen. You walk the course and make a plan, but then I felt in the warm up today that Rocana was not feeling perfect with the weather. It made me nervous before the start, but on course she was galloping well and jumping powerfully.”
Jung, defending Rolex Kentucky champion and two-time Olympic champion, credits his partnership with his horses, and especially Rocana, with his ability to succeed even when things don’t go perfectly.
“(Towards the end of the course) some situations were not very clear for me and the horse, but we have a good partnership,” he said. “That is the most important thing in eventing–that you know each other and trust each other and can find your way out of difficult situations. I am very happy that we both came out happy and healthy.”
Livio also had nothing but praise for his horse and his partnership.
“I am super happy with my horse, who had a super round,” said Livio, 29, Saumur, France. “He started like he starts every time—fast and strong. I tried not to fight too much at the beginning, but he never wanted to get quiet. But he did exactly what I wanted everywhere. With all (the terrain and crowds) on that course sometimes you can have a plan and not realize that plan. It happened for me (on the fish in the Head of the Lake). My last stride was too short, but it was my only bobble on the course. The horse is well, I’m very happy, the ground was superb for me and the weather was a good thing today.”
Zara Tindall (GBR) on High Kingdom placing third after cross-country during the Rolex Kentucky 3-Day Event at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, April 29, 2017. (Rebecca Berry/FEI)
Tindall, 35, Gloucestershire, England, had a rough time during her last trip to the Kentucky Horse Park, when her horse High Kingdom had to be withdrawn from competition after injuring himself in the stables right before he was set to do dressage. This time they’ve had a much better weekend, with a good showing in dressage and a strong double-clear in the cross-country to stand third.
“I had a great ride,” she said. “I was pretty happy after my dressage and to get through to my cross-country was already better than two years ago! I was happy for the rain last night, the ground was incredible. He loves this phase–he gallops great, he’s easy to turn, he’s very good at all the combinations and we did what we planned the whole way around. He kept galloping well in the heat–you are always worried and he coped really well. He finished really good too, so hopefully it will be easier for him tomorrow (in show jumping)."
The cross-country caused a considerable shakeup in the standings. Overnight leaders Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen dropped down the order after runouts at 18ab, the first of two narrow wedges in the water at the Land Rover Landing and the second of the Horse Park Barns at 27. Kim Severson who had been third after dressage retired Cooley Cross Border after a run out at the corner at the Fox Den at 22. The Land Rover Landing proved to be the most influential fence of the day, with 10 pairs coming to grief there.
In all, only five of the 57 starters (Copper Beech/Buck Davidson and Revitavet Capato/Jordan Linstedt withdrew before the start) managed to come home double clear, and only 26 came home with no jumping penalties. The five putting in sparkling double-clears included: Livio/Qalao Des Mers, Tindall/High Kingdom, Super Socks/Matthew Brown, Tim Bourke (IRL)/Luckaun Quality and Erin Sylvester/Mettraise.
Lexington, KY, April 27, 2017—The first awards given out at this year’s Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Land Rover aren’t for performance, but rather, fashion. Allie Sacksen and Boyd Martin took home the Dubarry prize for “best dressed” during Wednesday evening’s welcome reception. They each earned a new pair of Dubarry boots as the best-dressed female and male riders at the first horse inspection, held on Wednesday afternoon.
Sacksen, 27, of Somerset, Pa., wore a glittering lavender lace dress with a cream-colored fascinator and matching shoes that contrasted perfectly with her sparkling white mount Sparrow’s Nio.
Boyd Martin and Steady Eddie Photo: Leslie Mitz / USEA
All but one of the 60 horses presented to the Ground Jury this afternoon at the 2017 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Land Rover will continue to compete after the first horse inspection.
The Kentucky springtime sun shone brightly on this year’s group of four-star hopefuls as riders presented their equine partners to the Ground Jury of President Christina Kligspor (SWE), Nick Burton (GBR) and David Lee (IRL). Big hats, bold colors and stunning suits represented a common theme at today’s inspection as all the riders eagerly await the announcement of the Dubarry of Ireland’s Best Dressed Award.
Hannah Sue Burnett and Under Suspection Shelby Allen Photo/USEA
Two horses, Colleen Rutledge’s Covert Rights and Jordan and Barbra Linstedt’s RevitaVet Capato, were sent to the hold box. Rutledge ultimately elected to withdraw Covert Rights in the hold, sadly ending their weekend early. A lengthy discussion by the Ground Jury following RevitaVet Capato’s representation had the audience holding their breath, but they eventually gave a nod of approval for the 14-year-old Hanoverian to continue.
Michael Jung and FischerRoscana Allie Sacksen and Sparrow's Nio Photos: Shelby Allen/USEA
Reigning champions Michael Jung and FischerRocana FST, who are eyeing a third consecutive victory in Kentucky, are among the 59 horse and rider combinations going forward to the dressage phase of the competition. Three of this weekend’s riders are here with three horses each. Jessica Phoenix will ride A Little Romance, Pavarotti and Bentley’s Best. Phillip Dutton is here with I’m Sew Ready, Fernhill Fugitive and Mr. Medicott. Buck Davidson continues aboard Park Trader, Copper Beach and Petite Flower.
It originally started out as a couple of evenings a week but progressed rather rapidly to nearly every day and every waking moment outside of work. It was then that I realised I had lost my wife to horses, and the only way to see her was to join her.
The first time Reena dragged me round to meet her horse Beau, I was genuinely terrified (and trying not to show it!). Unsure how to act or behave around horses having never had any exposure to them it took a while for us to develop a mutual understanding. Ten years later and we’re nearly there, although like all equestrian husbands there are plenty of things I’ll never understand.
• Rugs: I’ve given up trying to comprehend why a horse needs quite so many rugs. It seems rather unnecessary and as much as she tells me they are bought second hand or on eBay I’m never 100% convinced. More just seem to arrive every year, all with some new and vital purpose, and that’s not even thinking about all the tack and other kit that seems to arrive with them!
• Competitions: I secretly enjoy competition day, despite the requisite moaning about having to get up at 5am and how everything (including my car) gets completely filthy within ten minutes. It’s cost effective too as by acting as chief photographer we save a fortune on professional photos.
• Dressage: I’ve never ever understood the appeal. I get what a flying change is now and how the canter is supposed to look when the horse is working correctly, but why you would do that when you could just “go fast and jump stuff” around the cross country?
• The yard politics: I thought girls at school were bad but I was unprepared for yard politics, put too many of them in one place with a bunch of horses and oh wow… it really gets dramatic! Fortunately while she gets it off her chest all that is required of me is a few encouraging noises interspersed at the right moment.
• The unspoken secret: Despite having plenty of hesitations about buying Archie, and the odd comment of how much of our monthly income disappears into the black hole of horse expenses, I am much more smitten that she is now, and there is no way he is ever leaving us. Fact.
My advice to any of you out there whose wives/partners are entering into the world of horses, just go with it and get involved. They’ll be much happier for it, and happy wife happy life right?!
As it says on the tin, this is a personal blog about the journey Archie and I are taking in discovering the world of eventing. Archie is a 6 year old Irish gelding, and I am a 26 year old horse addict. I didn’t grow up in a family with horses, and Archie was the first horse I ever owned, having loaned for over 20 years. I hope that we can show other riders who perhaps don’t feel that they can achieve their dreams, that anything is possible!
Re-published by kind permission of Journey of an Amateur Eventer|Blog
Saturday April 15th. Barefoot Estates Burnham Market International - the sun was shining, it was a good day for taking photos...
Oliver Townend swept the board yet again. He made it ten wins in ten years in the headline class, the CIC***, beating a class field which included fellow Olympians and some of the biggest names in the sport.
1st. Oliver Townend riding COOLEY MASTER CLASS.
2nd. Piggy French riding VANIR KAMIRA.
3rd. Andrew Nicholson (NZL) riding BYRNESGROVE FIRST DIAMOND
4th. Nicola Wilson riding ANNIE CLOVER
5th. Tom Jackson riding DUSTY II
6th. Francis Whittington riding HASTY IMP.
7th. Olivia Craddock riding BILLY LIFFY.
8th. Oliver Townend riding ARCTIC MOOSE.
9th. Caroline Powell riding SINATRA FRANK BABY.
10th. Pippa Funnell riding BILLY THE BIZ.
See Full Results HERE
For the tenth time in 10 years British number one, Oliver Townend, bagged the headline class at Barefoot Estates Burnham Market Horse Trials. He had come to Norfolk meaning business, with four entries in the big class, and having secured the win on his third, Cooley Master Class – the same horse who took the title 12 months ago – was able to withdraw his final runner, Note Worthy, who could have given Oliver a 1-2, instead saving the horse for another day.
In total over the three days Oliver won the Three Star, the Advanced, an Intermediate and a Novice section, making the drive over from Shropshire worthwhile. Oliver now also has his first of a necessary three out of five legs of the Shearwater Insurance Grand Slam in the bag, with its £50,000 bonus.
“Burnham Market is always the first event of the year where I really aim to be competitive. I trust the ground, I trust the course designer, I trust everything about the place. I think running here sets my horses up for what’s to come later in the season,” Oliver explained.
Norfolk-born Piggy French has returned to competition in some style after a year off to have a baby. She finished runner up in the Three Star on Vanir Kamira, a horse that she produced back in 2012 before the ride went elsewhere, only returning to Piggy’s Maidwell base last winter.
“I hadn’t planned to run fast, but we were in a good position so I went for it,” said Piggy, who finished bang on the cross country optimum time. “Vanir Kamira can get quite nervous and it’s taken a while for me to figure her out, but she was much calmer today and jumped fantastically well.”
New Zealand’s Andrew Nicholson made amends for an early dunking at the first water with third place on Byrnesgrove First Diamond, with Yorkshire’s Nicola Wilson fourth riding Annie Clover... READ MORE