In his second year as course designer Eric Winter has taken the traditional line and reversed the direction of the Badminton Course. Starting as ever in the main arena over the familiar flower bed, the ASX Starter (1) riders head left to a choice of inviting Rolex Feeder roll top spreads (2), one of very few portable fences on this track.
Earthworks have created a mound on the way through the car park where there is an impressive fallen tree on the top, the HorseQuest Hump (3). This is designed to break up the natural flatness of the park on the way to the HorseQuest Quarry (4 AB), which Eric describes as back to being how God intended it, with a dry stone wall drop in and its counterpart coming left on the top of the incline.
To avoid a flat out gallop there is a deviation through the trees to a very skinny brush with ditch to the fore on quite a sharp angle, the Rolex Grand Slam Skinny (5). It is then a right turn heading to Huntsman’s Close which this time consists of three very chunky logs on a tight turn (6 AB).
The new Traders Table (7) then keeps the rhythm going before last year’s log into the Lake (8), the Wadworths Water, this time transported to the House end of the water hazard. The entry to The Lake proper is the same route as last year over another massive log, with a brush in the water with a sharp right turn to a narrow brush up the slope (9 ABC).
For the first time in many years the Mitsubishi L200s pickups (10) now come after the Lake as the riders go in front of the tented village and jump left over the imposing World Horse Welfare Gates (11). Next comes a choice of maximum size parallels, the Formulate! White Oxers (12) and onto a natural Stick Pile (13). Turning right out of the Deer Park are a choice of corners (14), up a steep mound with a post and rails on the top (15) then down to another choice of corners away (16) at the Outlander PHEV Mound.
Heading towards the Luckington Lane is a massive triple bar with a drop, the Devoucoux Quad Bar (17). The following obstacle is perhaps simpler this time with a rail in and a parallel out (18 AB) at the Eclipse Cross Pond, then up the small hill over a let up brush, the Vicarage Rolltop (19) to the Hildon Water Pond, which consists of a log, slope into the pond, a running water trough and a hedge up the incline (20 ABC).
The yawning National Star Trakehner (21) is next before the classic KBIS Vicarage Vee (22, 23) and then back into the Park over a rail, down to a ditch and up and out over a narrow house (24 ABCD), the Shogun Hollow.
The Countryside Haywain (25) comes next in front of the House, then it is the portable wooden box followed by the boxed in corners, the Joules Corners, formerly used in Huntsman’s Close (26 ABC).
First seen last year is a very square BHS Table (27) then up past the steps to the Crooked S Bullfinch on the mound (28).
Coming down the hill is a box brush followed by two skinny moustache jumps at an angle (29 ABC), Savills Escalator.
Three from home is the old standard Fischer Brush (30), a beautifully carved single log (31), the Rolex Treetrunk and into the arena to the prize winning Shogun Sport Saddles (32).
The general feeling of the course is rustically impressive.
Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials
For Immediate Release 11/4/2018
Michael Jung (GER) and Sam move up to second ahead of Andrew Nicholson (NZL) and Nereo with just 0.8 between the top three
German Olympic rider Ingrid Klimke rode an exhilarating cross country round on Horseware Hale Bob at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, fourth leg of the FEI Classics™, and holds a slim 0.4 penalty lead over defending champions Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam who were outstanding to finish on their dressage score at the end of a thrilling day’s 4* competition.
"I walked the course with Andrew [Nicholson] and I watched Michi [Jung] and I hoped to do as well as them. It was a difficult course - there certainly wasn’t time to wave to the crowd – but Bobby was so full of himself and was pure pleasure to ride."
Ingrid Klimke (GER)
Brilliant Kiwi rider Andrew Nicholson, who was last on course on Nereo, brought the day to a nail-biting climax and is now in third place, just 0.8 behind Klimke.
New course-designer Eric Winter’s track proved as influential as anticipated. Dressage leader Christopher Burton (AUS) on Graf Liberty had a surprising refusal at the third log element of the Hildon Water Pond (fence 15) and third-placed Irishman Jonty Evans (Cooley Rorkes Drift) was going brilliantly when he had a disappointing run-out at the second corner at fence 21.
"Sport’s all about confidence and I’m going to try and take some confidence from it. We made one little mistake, which was my fault, but we’re going home to reboot and aim for the Europeans."
Jonty Evans (IRL), Fourth-placed Belgian rider Karin Donckers (Fletcha Van ‘T Verahof) and eighth-placed Bettina Hoy from Germany (Designer 10) both retired after refusals and, under the new FEI rule, Sam Griffiths (AUS), 11th on Paulank Brockagh was awarded 50 penalties for missing a flag.
There were 32 clear rounds and 49 finishers from the 81 starters. Only two were inside the time of 11 minutes 34 seconds: Jung and New Zealander Tim Price, who has leapt 30 places to fourth on Xavier Faer. Sir Mark Todd (NZL) has two horses inside the top 10, NZB Campino, fifth, and Leonidas, ninth.
‘You couldn’t be casual and lollop along. Perhaps it’s my age, but I don’t think I’ve ever concentrated so hard!’
Andrew Nicholson (NZL)
The home crowd had little to cheer about after the dressage, but strong clears by British first-timers Ros Canter (Allstar B) and farrier Alexander Bragg (Zagreb) have moved them up significantly to sixth and eighth places; Oliver Townend shot up from 47th to sixth on ODT Ghareeb and Gemma Tattersall from 67th to 12th on the ex-racehorse Arctic Soul.
Tomorrow’s jumping phase promises to be an absolute thriller with 0.8 of a penalty separating three greats in the sport. The action starts at 11.30am local time.
BY KATE GREEN
Ingrid Klimke (GER) and Horseware Hale Bob close second ahead of Jonty Evans (IRL) and Cooley Rorkes Drift in third
Australia’s Christopher Burton produced a typically elegant display to lead the dressage phase at the 4* Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, fourth leg of the FEI Classics™, with the outstanding mark of 32.9 on the 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse Graf Liberty.
The only riders to have bettered Burton’s score in Badminton’s 68-year history are fellow Aussie Andrew Hoy with Darien Powers in 2000 and Britain’s Pippa Funnell on Supreme Rock in 2002.
"I’m so proud of my horse. I can’t believe it. I deliberately didn’t push him too much at the start of the week – I didn’t even get on the horse until Wednesday afternoon – as I have been known to overdo it on him before, but he worked in better and better and to come out of the arena with a 32.9 is fantastic. I’m so happy."
Christopher Burton (AUS)
‘Burto’, winner of Burghley and an Olympic team bronze medallist last year, leads the 2015 runners-up Ingrid Klimke (GER) on Horseware Hale Bob by 3.5 penalties.
"There was so much atmosphere but as soon as we went into the arena, he felt safe. He is such a sweet horse. I’m looking forward to the cross-country – it’s a mix of big bold fences and accuracy tests and you have to concentrate, but I have ridden some difficult courses in my time and I feel my horse is in good shape."
Ingrid Klimke (GER)
Irishman Jonty Evans, back at Badminton for the first time in 10 years, broke down in tears on hearing his mark of 37.2, which puts him in third place, and pointed emphatically to Cooley Rorkes Drift, the horse that took him to ninth place at the Rio Olympics last year. The last Irish rider to win Badminton was Eddie Boylan (Durlas Eile) in 1965 and the last top-three finisher was Jessica Harrington, who was third with Amoy in 1983.
"He is my horse of a lifetime. We have trained so hard and I've wanted to get under 40 for so long. It's unbelievable, very special. I'd like to think the cross country will suit my horse – he doesn’t look big because I’m so lanky, but he’s got a long stride.Finishing on my dressage score is the aim!"
Jonty Evans (IRL)
Belgium’s Karin Donckers (Fletcha Van ‘T De Verahof, 37.3), the USA’s Lauren Kieffer (Veronica, 38.0) and New Zealand’s Andrew Nicholson (Nereo, 38.0), who has completed Badminton more times than any other rider (35), have now overtaken first-day leader Thibaut Vallette (FRA) and are in fourth and equal fifth. Defending champion Michael Jung (GER) is now ninth on La Biosthetique Sam but cannot be ruled out.
Riders are looking forward to tomorrow’s cross country course, variously described as ‘massive’, ‘imposing’ and ‘needing total concentration’ with a mix of excitement and trepidation. Britain’s Izzy Taylor sums it up: ‘Eric [Winter, designer] has handed the responsibility to the rider, which is the right direction. I think we’ll be looking at some different results tomorrow.”
Cross country starts tomorrow from 11:30 am local time.
image; Jon Stroud
Germany’s Bettina Hoy and Designer 10 a close second ahead of defending champions Michael Jung and Sam
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 tomorrow.
‘I didn’t expect to do this well, so I am very happy. 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!’
Thibaut Vallette (FRA)
The next four placed riders have years of experience and four-star 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. The conditions are perfect and I’m feeling motivated and looking forward to it.’
Michael Jung (GER)
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.
Tomorrow, 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.
BY KATE GREEN
British eventing fans are in for an unexpected treat as Michael Jung plans to defend his Mitsubishi Motors Badminton title with his long time partner, double Olympic individual gold medallist La Biosthetique-Sam FBW. The win there last year meant that they won the bumper money prized Rolex Grand Slam of eventing.
Outlining his plans for the year Jung announced he will be aiming his nine year old Lennox 364 for the Eurpean Championships.
Lennox is a nine-year-old dark bay Hannoverian, owned by the Jung family and Erich Single. He is by Sunlight xx, while his damsire is another thoroughbred — Heraldik xx, breeding that Michael is fond of, as his legendary star La Biosthetique-Sam FBW is also out of a mare by Heraldik xx and by a thoroughbred (Stan The Man xx).
Lennox is at a similar stage to Michael's FischerTakinou when he won the European Championships in 2015 and although not competed at three-star yet Michael clearly has confidence in the horses ability and plans to run him at Marbach CIC3* in May and Saumur CCI3* in June before the European Championships.
This year FischerTakinou will be aimed at Rolex Kentucky along with FischerRocanaFST who has won the American four-star on the last two accasions
Tapner Eventing Team have announced today that Paul's long time 4* and World Equestrian Games partner Kilronan (Tom) was put to sleep yesterday due to failing health.
Kilronan was an extremely successful Event Horse with numerous wins at every 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 (pictured). He amassed a huge 1160 British Eventing Points during his career and was retired from 4* level of competition during 2016
Quote from Tapner Eventing Facebook
"Kilronan has given many fond memories to his owners Fred and Penny Barker, but one tale which stands out, is from his XC round at The World Equestrian Games in Normandy. As he effortlessly sprinted over the final few fences on a XC course where so many horses had failed or struggled in the dire conditions, in the riders, grooms and owners CCTV tent there was a surge of support from many who were watching him, giving rise to many loud cries echoing around the tent of “GO TOMMY GO!”
The Ticketing Office for the 2017 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials is now open for advance sales. The world’s premier Three Day Event, which runs from Wednesday 3rd May to Sunday 7th May in the Duke of Beaufort’s Gloucestershire park will for the first time offer a first prize of £100,000, with money prizes going down to 20th place of the expected 80 starters. Also all those completing will be reimbursed more than their entry fee.
As previously announced, Badminton has a new course designer for 2017, in Eric Winter, who cut his teeth designing at Blenheim for 10 years.
For many years now Badminton has welcomed the very best riders from around the world, but for the home side, after the Olympic cycle, the British have a new team trainer to impress in Chris Bartle, previous Badminton winner and former mentor to the all-conquering German squad. Will we see a new world order?I
In recent years Badminton has invested in its media platforms, with a revamped website, YouTube productions, Facebook and Twitter feeds and build up radio packages. It has also signed a new three year deal with the BBC.