Friday 30 April 2010

Ruth Edge Leads After Day One

Ruth Edge leads after the first day of dressage at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials. A typically polished first phase performance with Phil and Maureen Smith’s Two Thyme earned the current British open champion a score of 39 – the only sub-40 mark of the day.

Two Thyme, who is now 16, has been carefully prepared for Badminton this year.

Ruth said: “He’s had a few soundness issues since Luhmuhlen [where he won in 2008], which ruled him out of the Hong Kong Olympics, but by giving him little holidays in between competitions he has stayed fit and well. Badminton has been his specific target for this season and he is on great form.”

Kitty King (née Boggis), who was the last rider of the day into the arena, inched her way into second place by virtue of an energetic and uphill test with the 14-year-old black gelding, Boondoggle, with a score of 44.3.

“When I first started riding him two years ago he was quite green on the flat, but now he’s more relaxed and his paces are starting to swing.”

Mary King and Imperial Cavalier are lying third on a score of 44.8.

“Unfortunately the loud speakers crackled and banged just as we came into the arena, so his test was a little bit tense to start with,” said Mary, for whom this is a 19th visit to Badminton.

“I’m just as excited now as I was back then,” she said.

Tomorrow’s dressage gets underway at 9.20am, when vet James Robinson will be first into the arena with Comanche.

Grassroots round up

Jack Day triumphed in the BE100 Grassroots Championship riding his own Smoke and Mirrors. An excellent dressage score of 27.8 and a double clear ensured his victory.

“It has been terrific,” says Jack, 21, who hails from Billesdon Coplow in Leicestershire. “The whole experience has been wonderful. I hope that our event can add to the whole event here at Badminton, even if it is predominantly about the four-star.”

Jack is a third-year vet student at Cambridge. “This horse is a cracking hunter but we are also having fun with him eventing,” adds Jack, who hunts with the Cattistock and the Fernie and also race-rides.
Hot on Jack’s heels was Elaine Wilson, who finished just 0.2 penalties behind on a score of 28.0 riding her own Weston Moonshine.
“When I started eventing again in 2008, I planned to do BE90 and not go any bigger, but my children told me that I was pot-hunting and had to move up,” says Elaine, who had a 33-year break from eventing and now trains event riders.
There were just 1.3 penalties separating the top three in the BE100 Championship and completing the line up was Kylie Roddy riding the six-year-old ex-racehorse Laurentian Lad.
“It is really nice to incorporate professionals and amateurs together at Badminton,” says Kylie, who hopes that this horse will now move up a level. “I hope that this is something that will carry on in the future. Everyone has been very supportive and this is what the sport is all about.”
Amy Dixon led from the start in the BE90 Championship with Maid In Holland, a 10-year-old mare, finishing on her dressage score of 28.8.
“This was a million times better than all my expectations,” says Amy, who is based in Kendal, Cumbria. “I thought the Grassroots competition might be put to one side of the main competition, but that has not been the case at all - we have been right in the middle of it.”
Amy, who is a medical rep, qualified at Solihull in August last year. She has been riding Maid In Holland for three and a half years.
“She had never jumped a cross-country fence before I got her, so it has been a slow process,” says Amy, who also won the BE90 at Stafford this year.
Newark-based Karen Baugh was second with Spark Of Talent.
“It is just amazing to be at a place like this,” says Karen. “The horse can take a bit of time to warm up on the cross-country so I was a bit nervous about the first few fences, but it was fine.”
“I think that this is a great development for the sport, and especially for people who don’t event full-time,” she adds.
Third in the BE90 was Beth Sutcliffe from Cumbria with Wodka Lime.
“This is a quirky type of horse, but the course rode really well,” says Beth, who won at Kelsall Hill and Stafford on her last two outings.

Grassroots News, Photos and Results
Audio Interview with Jack Day
Audio Interview with Amy Dixon

Sharon hopes to set the record straight

All eyes will be on Sharon Hunt and Tankers Town on Sunday as they look to lay last year’s cross-country start box ghosts firmly to rest. The chestnut gelding, who finished fifth here in 2008, planted his feet last time and refused to start, resulting in elimination.
But 32-year-old Sharon, who has recently re-located her string from Suffolk to Kent, has experimented with various tactics over the past 12 months to get Tankers Town back on track.
“I have found that getting on him in the start box works really well,” said Sharon, who won an advanced section at Belton last time out.
The pair has started well at Badminton this year. A supple, accurate test earned them a score of 48.2 and leaves them in 11th place at the end of the first day.

Who's new?

There are a clutch of first-timers hoping to impress at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials this year.

Of the 18 first-timers, only five are British - Daniel Sibley, Nicola Malcolm, Sian Wynne Morris, Sarah Bullimore and Rachel Gough. The youngest of these is 21-year-old Rachel Gough, who is riding her own and Michael and Sarah Gough's Bow House Mandalin. The pair got into Badminton from 15th on the waiting list and they finished 26th at Burghley in 2008 - a first attempt at four-star level for both horse and rider.

This leaves 13 foreign first-timers - Alex Hua Tian, Alexander Peternell (pictured), Camilla Speirs, Sidney Dufresne, Marco Savoini, Simone Deitermann, Duarte Seabra, Gianluca Gardini, Bruce Haskell, Geoff Curran, Juan Carlos Garcia, Kai Ruder and Benjamin Massie.

Duarte Seabra is the first Portugese rider to compete at Badminton. The 24-year-old has produced his horse, Brave Heart, from a novice and last year the pair finished second in the Bramham under 25 championship and 21st at the Fontainebleau European Championships.

Camilla Speirs (20) is the second youngest rider competing at Badminton this year (after Alex Hua Tian). She is a stalwart of the Irish junior and young rider teams and finished ninth at the Young Rider Europeans in 2008. She rides the 15.1hh Portersize Just A Jiff and comes to Badminton on the back of a fourth placing in the CIC*** at Burnham Market earlier this year.

This might be a first attempt at Badminton for Gianluca Gardini and Lion Dancer, but the combination comes here with good four-star form, having finished ninth at Pau and 12th at Luhmuhlen last year.

Biggest, Smallest, Oldest, Youngest

Badminton horses come in all shapes and sizes, and this year's field is no exception.

The smallest: The diminutive Little Tiger, ridden by Phoebe Buckley, is back at the Mitsubishi Badminton Horse Trials for a fourth year. Phoebe freely admits that the mare only stands at 15hh "on tiptoes". She will be looking to improve on her previous performances - she finished 38th in both 2007 and 2008. The pair is currently on form and had a storming cross-country run at Belton earlier this month.

The tallest: At the other end of the scale, the lofty Old Road (Michael Ryan) and Coolgrange Merger (Tony Warr) both stand at 17.2hh. This is Coolgrange Merger's second attempt at Badminton, having finished 44th last year with a clear cross-country round. Old Road comes here for a third time having completed in 2006 and 2008. Michael's wife Patricia is also competing, making them the only husband/wife combination riding at Badminton this year.

The oldest rider: Thirty years after his first win here, 54-year-old Mark Todd returns to Badminton after 10 years. He brings the four-star first-timer, NZB Grass Valley, a ride he took over from Julian Stiller in 2009.

The youngest rider: Of the three 20-year-olds riding at Badminton this year, Alex Hua Tian is the youngest. The Team Fredericks prodigy is now eventing full-time from his base in Wiltshire. He competed at the 2008 Olympic Games for China while still studying for his A levels at Eton College.

Thursday 29 April 2010

All Horses Pass The First Vets' Inspection at Badminton 2010

You might be forgiven for thinking this (the Vets' Inspection) is a catwalk parade for horses and riders, but the serious side of this beauty parade is to ensure that horses entered for the event are considered 'sound' and fit to take part in, what is probably, the most physically demanding of the equestrian sports.

It's also the perfect excuse for many of the riders to show off that new outfit (and not just the ladies!), or as Matt Ryan did last year, show your new loyalties!

Horses are paraded (trotted) in front of the Ground Jury & Vets, who scruntinise them to pick up on any minor lameness, and as any rider will tell you its a great relief to hear the "PASS" called, signaling the all clear.

There were a few nervous riders today, as three or four horses were 'held' temporarily for a closer look, but happily all horses were eventually passed fit to compete for the greatest equestrian sporting accolade, The Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Trophy.

Only one horse was not presented (The Cointreau Challenge, Charlotte Castle) and subsequently withdrawn.

Most riders were out walking the course this afternoon, getting their first feel for what lies ahead on Sunday for the cross country, and you can see what Mark Todd and Clayton Fredericks had to say about the course in their Thursday Video Diaries.

Save for the early starters in the Dressage tomorrow morning, the lorry park will no doubt be buzzing 'til late into the night as the riders continue to burn off their nervous energy.

More on all of that the meantime browse the image galleries from today.

Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots Championship gets underway

Before the main Badminton Horse Trials gets underway with the 1st inspection at 4PM, the Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots Championship has already sprung into action with the Dressage. In true Badminton style the championship is enticing fierce competition from all ages, there are five competitors under 14, and two over 55.

A dry but overcast start to the day's proceedings has turned into a rainy morning (albeit to the benefit of the cross country course), but none the less spirits are high over in the  grassroots lorry park and stables with a buzz of excitement and mums and other family members running around frantically plaiting, grooming, and polishing. It's been quite refereshing to see such a mixture of horses and ponies competing at Badminton!

Later today we'll have more video, photos, and news as the championship unfolds. Hopefully we'll also have a few video diaries too.

Keep an eye on the Grassroots Microsite and this blog for all the latest

Wednesday 28 April 2010

Wednesday down at Badminton Horse Trials 2010

Things are really hotting up now! The tradestand lanes have been choc-a-bloc with vehicles dropping off more merchandise than we've ever seen. The stables are now a hive of activity with grooms unloading horses , tack, rugs and enough paraphernalia to keep a horse for a month let alone a 3-day-event. I didn't spot any kitchen sinks though!

These grooms really do do a fantastic job - just take a look at the shine on the coat of Clayton's Fredericks mount, The Frog (see Clayton's Wednesday Video Diary).

One of the big stories for the 2010 event is of course the comeback of Mark Todd. 10 years since he last competed here, and he's as focussed and on form as he's ever been. Will he make it a dream comeback? Well keep an eye on our website and Mark Todd's Badminton Video Diaries to find out.

As the sun sets over Badminton tonight, the activity continues in the lorry park as competitors feast on barbecues entertaining their owners, grooms, and each other.

The event starts in earnest tomorrow with the first inspection at 4PM, and no doubt all the competitors will be walking the course tomorrow afternoon after the Rider's Briefing.

More tomorrow.......

Tuesday 27 April 2010

Horses Start Arriving For Badminton 2010

Everybody is busy unpacking, setting up, getting their bearings and generally running around, but it's when horses start arriving that you really feel that Badminton Week is well and truly here. It's here!

The French contingent were the first to arrive and Haston D’elpegere (ridden by Benjamin Massie) was given a well deserved graze in front of Badminton House! (pictured with groom, Elizabeth Bazine)

Tomorrow, will be another busy day down in the stables as more and more horses arrive, not a day to attempt parking anywhere near the stables!

More on all the hubub tomorrow........

Live Online Coverage of Badminton Horse Trials 2010

Well, Badminton week has finally arrived and its all busy, busy, busy down in the deer park. The office seems to have moved almost lock, stock & barrel to it's temporary location on site (now where did I put those scissors?). There's barely time to stop for a quick blog or tweet, but as those nice people over at Horse & Country TV have just finalised the technical details for our 'live Badminton Horse Trials international online broadcast'  (sounds very posh) we just couldn't wait to tell you all about it.

For those of you outside the UK, cross country day will be broadcast live online courtesy of Horse & Country TV. Coverage starts at 10:50 BST (that's UK time) and finishes around 17:00 BST so set your alarm clocks, reminders and tie a knot in your hanky because you won't want to miss this!

For those of you IN the UK there is of course live coverage on BBC TV:

Sunday 2nd May  11am – 5pm   Cross Country live on Red Button
Monday 3rd May  12.35 pm – 2.15 pm BBC 2 – Cross Country Highlights

                          5.55pm – 6.30pm BBC 2 – Show Jumping

As in previous years we'll also be bringing you plenty of photos, video clips, news, views and interviews from the event as it happens. Results on the website are also up to the minute, so if you're not fortunate enough to make it on site for what is bound to be one of the best  Badminton's yet, at least you can follow all of the action from the comfort of your PC, mobile phone or other fancy internet enabled device.

More on all of the ways to stay informed later.....

ahh, there's my scissors!

Thursday 22 April 2010


With the event starting on 29th April this will be the last ‘monthly’ diary this year. As usual, April has been extraordinarily busy with continuous activity on site. Most of our contractors are hard at work – the park resembles a big building site with now probably several hundred people working to get everything ready.

It hasn’t rained here since Easter so the ground generally is now pretty dry. The benefits of the turf management programme are very obvious indeed, with the course and the arena looking and feeling totally different to their ‘natural’  surroundings. We are irrigating the drier parts of the course that are accessible and looking every day at the constantly changing weather forecasts – three days ago thunderstorms were forecast for this coming weekend, but no longer! Even if the going turns out to be firm, it will be very even and smooth with a good covering of grass.

Lots of filming has taken place here this month, all of it now on our website. First Yogi Breisner’s preview, then the course walk with Polly Stockton, then a short piece when Pippa Funnell came for Horse and Hound and World Horse Welfare, our nominated Charity of the Year. Chris Lewis our TV Producer came for his final visit this week, when we made sure the camera positions could see the strung course properly and the sponsors banners were sited to their best advantage but complying with the TV regulations.

Last week saw Press Day when we invite local, national and equestrian journalists for a preview of the course in a fleet of Mitsubishi Shoguns, the opportunity to take photos and ask questions and then enjoy an excellent lunch hosted by the Duke and Duchess. It was a happy day with many old friends meeting for the first time this year.

There are also many very necessary but unexciting meetings – for example the gathering of all the ‘Agencies’  involved in the event, particularly in terms of public safety. We had the Avon and Somerset Police,  Avon Fire and Rescue, the South Gloucestershire Council, the Great Western Ambulance Service for a fruitful hour or so; with the regularity of this annual event the main task of this meeting is to ensure that all involved know of any changes.

We waited with bated breath to see how many of the qualified Grassroots riders would actually enter and our predictions were just about right – 170 odd between the two classes, so more than we had really wanted but we reckon we can just about cope without starting before dawn! That course has really taken shape in the last few weeks and suddenly with the stringing and flags it, just like the International course, looks ready for customers. At a couple of places around the Lake the stringing does look a bit like a maze but hopefully it will all be clear to those walking each track.

After the huge entry, withdrawals from the International event had been many fewer than usual – some people thought we must be out of date on our website as it changed so rarely! However the past week has seen quite a few more and it seems more possible than we thought that by next Tuesday Mark Todd might actually get in – to ride here 30 years after his first, winning appearance in 1980.

The dreaded Icelandic Volcano claimed one very sad casualty, in that Philip Dutton’s ride Woodburn was unable to travel from the United States and so had to withdraw – he at least will get a run in Kentucky but we are sorry this top American, formerly Australian jockey cannot be here. We asked the generous Sue Stewart to be on stand by to judge as a member of the Ground Jury in case Nicoli Fife could not make the journey from New Zealand, but at the moment it looks much more promising that she will be able to come.

The Box Office closed to advance bookings on Monday 19th April with pre-sales at a record level. This does not necessarily mean we will have record crowds at the event, since lots of people, particularly on cross country day, just come and pay at the gate, but it certainly shows that interest is very high and many people, like us, are hugely looking forward to next weekend. There are still a few show jumping seats left which will go on sale again at the Box Office on the grounds during the event itself. We have to shut the Box Office 10 days before the start, simply in order to guarantee to get tickets to customers before the event  starts – as it is, with the usual last minute rush, our small team lead by Carol Alexander will have had to print, collate, stuff envelopes and post tickets to nearly 2000 addresses this week.

We always hope for good weather over this coming weekend, as Sunday brings the Fence Judges and Stewards briefings – in a tent and then at each fence on the course, so that they can all discuss the individual problems that might arise. Traditionally the organising team then has a picnic in the park –  either on the lakeside or sometimes in one of the marquees. The caravan site is being pegged out, beds put down in the stables and names stapled to the stable doors, the stables canteen will open on Tuesday for early arrivals and many of the staff working here. The next week will go all too quickly!,

Wednesday 14 April 2010

Press Day signals Badminton is just around the corner

The annual Press Junket at Badminton (today), usually highlights that Badminton is just around the corner and is front and centre in the minds of the nation's press and media. The Horse & Hound already have their "Count Down to Badminton" running on their home page (15 days away now), and social networks, blogs are all a twitter of all things Badminton, as riders prepare themselves and their horses in the hope of capturing one of the biggest equestrian sporting accolades, The Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Trophy.

Mitsubishi in their ever supportive role of title sponsor bring an enormous fleet of their popular 4x4s to Press Day to provide transport for the media on Hugh Thomas's sneak peak of the cross country course.

Meanwhile, a battalion of contractors continue to work tirelessly installing miles of cabling, acres of canvas and a myriad  of other items that provide the infrastructure for event, like no other.

Another two busy weeks ahead!

Thursday 8 April 2010

The Good Old Days......

For those of us too young to remember Badminton in the 1950's & 60's, our friends over at British Pathe have been kind enough to rummage around in their archives and dig up some classic footage of the horse trials from the good old days, and thanks to the wonders of modern technology and "t'internet" we are able to share these with you now.

Follow the link below and marvel at the differences in riding style, attire and cross country fences to those of the modern day trials.

Badminton Horse Trials Golden Age Footage

Thursday 1 April 2010

March Diary

For years the first Friday in March was always feared by us in the Horse Trials Office, being the last ‘big day’ when the Beaufort Hunt were in Badminton Park – and therefore liable to chew up the cross country course! Happily 5th March this year passed with no damage at all, thanks to the course being marked out and the hunt followers cooperating hugely and treating the course with respect.

March as always has been hugely busy. Entries closed on 12th – as usual now most came over the last few days – and we had even more than usual, so Jane Tuckwell had the unenviable task of checking them all and sorting out the acceptances and the Waiting List. It is very sad that not everyone who wants to can compete here – but the points system for acceptance is at least completely objective and does reward those with the best form over the past couple of seasons. 

As foreshadowed last month, the Technical Delegates came in the middle of the month and so all the portables had to be in position for them to see. The only exceptions to this were the first and last fences which will go in the main arena and the Mitsubishi Pick Ups at the Lake which will appear just before our Press Day in mid April. The TDs were very happy with the course as a whole and we were able to make all the adjustments so that we and they ended the very useful day happy. It really is important to have independent experts come and check the course out, partly because they have not been involved with it on a day to day basis and they see the fences afresh, as of course the horses will do.

Immediately after the TD day we had our TV Producer Chris Lewis together with facilities provider Robin Stonestreet of SIS Live and BBC Editor Michael Cole to see the whole course and fix the camera positions, which had been roughed out last autumn. Chris, coming back to Badminton after 4 years, had some great ideas for new positions at various fences and there will be very few parts of the course where there is no coverage. There will be 13 cameras out on the cross country, so viewers of the ‘Red Button’ live coverage should see most of the action.

Caroline Bromley-Gardiner has sketched the fences at Badminton for the Programme for ever – in fact she is the only person ever to have done them and came up with the idea herself – and she has a deadline of Easter Monday, so has to make a start as soon as there is enough to see. She is always asking Alan Willis what a fence is going to look like and he often does not know! Sometimes we finish a fence off to look like her drawing, rather than the other way round! Caroline is a proper artist and also a horsewoman, so she has the ideal attributes. 

Late in the month Jamie Hawksfield of MBPtv came to film an interview with Yogi Breisner. When edited, this will be illustrated with footage from previous events and will form a fascinating Event Preview, which will be on our website and also on Horse and Country TV and will after the event be available to overseas TV stations, together with the Course Walk preview, to be filmed just after Easter, and the edited highlights of the actual event. It looks currently as though more overseas countries than ever are going to take coverage of Badminton 2010.

On the technical side, developments are continuing in the search for ‘safety’ improvements. Frangible Pins have been in use for several seasons, but some course designers and builders have been keen to see development of these so that they can be used with the rail on the far, or landing, side of a fence rather than on the front of the posts – the idea being that when hit hard at the moment the rail may not break the pin often or quickly enough. British Eventing commissioned Martin Herbert and colleagues at Bristol University to research how hard horses hit fences and the frangibilty of pins and, to cut a very long story short, they have come up with a new method of securing the rails that will enable us to ‘reverse pin’ fences. At Badminton we are keen to use the new system and so Martin was joined here at the end of March by a team from BE and of course the Willis Bros and a (very cold) day was spent installing some of the new devices. It is good to be at the forefront of developments in the management of the risks involved in our sport. 

The only sad note in March was the news that Dr David Lewsey, Chief Medical Officer here for a great many years up to 2005, had passed away. David was instrumental in bringing the medical facilities particularly for the competitors up to date – for instance he started ensuring that all the doctors on the cross country course held an Advanced Trauma Life Certificate, so that they had the knowledge and experience to treat traumatic injury. He was hugely respected as a GP in Tetbury himself and took great and justifiable pride in leading a top flight medical team at Badminton.

Early April will bring the Course Walk filming; our Press Preview Day; the interactive course map on the website. We are now only 4 weeks away from the event and there is no doubt that tension mounts! Ticket sales are excellent and we hope all is set fair.