Friday 30 April 2010

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.

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