Tackling the challenging cross-country at Badmninton Horse Trials, through our photographer's lens.
Padraig McCarthy (IRL) riding MR. CHUNKY
Tom McEwen (GBR) riding TOLEDO DE KERSER
Oliver Townend (GBR) riding COOLEY SRS
Micheal Jung (GER) riding LA BIOSTHETHIQUE SAM
Rosalind Canter (GBR) riding ALL STAR B
Oliver Townend (GBR) riding BALLAGHMOR CLASS
Richard Jones (GBR) riding ALFIES CLOVER
Alexander Whewall (GBR) riding CHAKIN'S STAR
Ben Hobday (GBR) riding MULRY'S ERROR
Giovanni Ugolotti (ITA) riding CULTREWIND
Tim Price (NZL) riding RINGWOOD SKY BOY
Simon Grieve (GBR) riding DRUMBILLA METRO
Pippa Funnell (GBR) riding BILLY BEWARE
Virginia Thompson (NZL) riding STAR NOUVEAU
Imogen Murray (GBR) riding IVAR GOODEN
Georgie Strang (GBR) riding COOLEY EARL
James Sommerville (GBR) riding TALENT
Lissa Green (AUS) riding HOLLYFIELD
Tom Crisp (GBR) riding COOLYS LUXURY
Michael Owen (GBR) riding BRADLEY LAW
Tom McEwen (GBR) riding STRIKE SMARTLY
The win with Classic Moet aka Molly came after a shaky showjumping phase, when several rails were rattled but none fell. The final, decisive phase of a three-day event isn't the horse's strong suit.
"It is the first clear round she's jumped on final day for years. Despite rattling a few poles, despite the nervous moments for all those watching, it was a really good round."
Classic Moet's forte, however is her speed. She was a clear 10 seconds quicker than the second fastest horse (Arctic Soul) over the cross country phase of the competition. Second-placed Oliver Townend said: "I hope the public understands what that horse is. I don't think we'll see another cross country galloper like it in our lifetime."I couldn't keep up with it in the prize giving – it was about ten strides ahead of me, I looked down for a moment, and when I looked back up it was on the other side of the arena! I'd give anything for a foal out of it."
Speaking after her victory Jonelle said,
"I certainly had lady luck on my side, but sometimes you need a little luck.
"I sat down last night with Mark Todd who has been there numerous times before — we're often neighbours in the truck park.
"He said to me over a drink 'every dog has its day'. I said 'are you calling Molly (Classic Moet) a dog, and he said no - you'.
"It was a silly little moment, he was right, sometimes it is just meant to be and certainly today was our day."
One minute you're sitting pretty at the top of your game and the next, it's all turned ugly! That about sums up the last week of Oliver Townend's eventing career, from Kentucky to Badders. It's tough to get to the top and it can be even tougher to stay there. As the Billy Ocean song goes, " When the Going Get's Tough, the Tough Get Going.' We know that it takes grit and determination to rise to the top of any sport but when animals are involved the less attractive side of ambition can be amplified.
The reactions of most spectators to Oliver Townend's use of the whip on Badminton's Cross Country day ranged from 'uncomfortable' to 'appalled'. The sudden onset of hot weather married with 'holding' ground meant that a lot of horses were really tiring near the end of the course and had to be coaxed home. A lot of riders did this sympathetically but Townend was seen giving Ballaghmor Class in particular, quite a few smacks plus waving of his whip to drive him home. When we watched the cross country action live on the BBC it certainly wasn't a pretty picture. In his interview with Clare Balding afterwards Townend said that he'd had to work hard on his young horse who was prone to being nappy and was playing up a bit on the way home. Re-watching the footage, Ballaghmor Class actually didn't look as fatigued as many of the other horses and so maybe he did just have his mind on other things. Cooley SRS who he rode at the beginning of the day, didn't look too tired as he finished and both horses certainly looked good in the jumping phase so certain claims that he was beating unfit exhausted horses home is probably an overwrought response.
Oliver Townend on the XC course riding Cooley SRS at Badminton Horse Trials, 2018
You know your horse is talented, you've got your eye on the grand slam and a huge cash prize, new scoring changes have meant that your cross country time is even more crucial than before so it's easy to see that if your steed then decides he'd rather be back in his box munching hay, you might feel impelled to dissuade him! …..and under pressure, in full view of the equestrian world, Oliver Townend did just that with rather too many thwacks and waves of his whip.
Now, we're not condoning what he's done but let's face it, many of us riders have made errors of judgement especially in the heat of the moment that we regret. There are probably plenty of his critics who definitely shouldn't be throwing stones! On the other hand it's quite right that we demand better of our equestrian heroes; they are supposed to inspire us and when they are flawed, we are disappointed. This has meant that Oliver Townend has received on top of the official warning from the Badminton ground jury, a social media whipping which can create it's own version of ugly.
"I fully accept the warning I received. My competitive instincts got the better of me and I will work hard to improve in this area.
"I try hard to give my horse the best ride possible. I try to be as fit as possible, to be as light as I can be, to sit as still as I can, to get them on the best strides and take-off points to minimise the energy they have to waste."
Badminton's top 10 finishers, pictured here on Saturday's Cross Country day.
1. Winner of the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton horse Trials 2018, Jonelle Price (NZL) riding Classic Moet
“Being a CCI4* winner is an elite club to join and it’s been something that has eluded me for a while now, so to now join it – especially here at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials – is very, very special,”
2. Oliver Townend (GBR) riding Cooley SRS
“If you’d have told me I’d have two horses in the top five at the end of this week I’d be very, very happy. “I’ve had to fight harder than I’ve fought before and it didn’t always look like I wanted it to look, but both horses have come out of it feeling very good.”
3. Rosalind Canter (GBR) riding Allstar B
“I was a bit nervous going into the showjumping (on Sunday) because he felt quieter than usual in the warm-up and that rattled me, but our round got better and better as we went on.”
4. Gemma Tattersall (GBR) riding Arctic Soul
5. Oliver Townend (GBR) riding Ballaghmor Class
6. Mark Todd (NZL) riding Kiltubrid Rhapsody
7. Tom McEwen (GBR) riding Toledo De Kerser
8. First timer, Padraig McCarthy (IRL) riding Mr Chunky
9. Lauren Kieffer (USA) riding Veronica
10. Michale Jung (GER) riding La Biosthetique-Sam FBW
Full Final Results HERE