Tuesday 26 April 2011

Sam Watson On Fairy Tales & Hard Luck Stories From Badminton 2011

Mark Todd & NZB Land Vision
If someone was to write the ideal fairytale ending to this year’s Badminton Horse Trials, it would be a carbon copy of the historic scenes which we saw unfolding before our eyes this afternoon. My tip at the start of the week was that a man on a grey horse would win, but I was leaving my options open with Oliver Townend and Ashdale Cruisemaster, Andrew Nicholson and Avebury, and eventual champions Mark Todd and NZB Land Vision all falling into that category.

Oliver was the hard luck story while Mark was the tear jerker, regaining his crown some thirty-one years after capturing the first of his four Badminton titles. Andrew, who groomed for Mark all those years ago in 1980, summed up the competition. He showed that brilliance wasn’t enough to win the World’s Greatest event this year. Despite performing two dressage tests in the forties, steering both horses clear and inside the time cross country, a rail lowered on the final day meant that he was only rewarded with 10th place on the aforementioned Avebury, and 12th onboard WEG bronze medallist Nereo who had two uncharacteristic rails in this afternoon’s show jumping. Any horse and rider in that top ten this year performed exceptionally. How fitting that the most talented man to ever sit on an event horse topped the pile.

Monday 25 April 2011

Badminton 2011 | Riders Thoughts Post Show Jumping

(Plus Capt. Mark Phillips)

Leading contenders safely through the final horse inspection

All the leading contenders for the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials are safely through this morning’s final horse inspection.

Fifty-six combinations will come forward for the final showjumping phase, which will begin at 11am for the lower-placed competitors.

Flora Harris’s Law Choice (19th overnight) was sent to the holding box and subsequently withdrawn, while Lucie McNichol’s Zeus Of Rushall (30th) and Aoife Clark’s Vaguely North were not presented.
At 1.45pm there will be a parade of competitors, which will be followed immediately by the showjumping finale for the top 20.

Sam Watson: A Legend Leads The Pack

Mark Todd |Leading After Cross Country
Mark Todd, what a legend!! If you want to know what the riders of Badminton 2011 are thinking right now, that’s it. If anything was going to hold Land Vision back this week then it was probably going to be time penalties. But ‘Sir Mark Todd to be’ got every last inch out of his horse using his extraordinary feel and his palpable determination.

Despite all that, he hasn’t exactly got much breathing room – there are no less than eleven riders within a single show jump of our current leader. It will be a strange atmosphere in the lorry park because usually there aren’t so many combinations with so much to play for going into the final phase. There are still the inevitable casualties of a cross country course of this magnitude and again, heartfelt commiserations will be offered to the riders concerned. The camaraderie amongst competitors after the cross country is similar to that of the battle field, delight and pride for those who have defeated the common enemy and the deepest respect for the wounded.

The Money On Todd & My Heart On Archie

Mary King & 'Archie'
We rose very early this morning to beat the queues and yes we managed it! With the offer of Breakfast in the Horse Trials Support Group marquee we declined the amazing catering from our hotel The Meuthen Arms in Corsham just 20 minutes away from the event. Which is incidently is run by an Eventing family - The Stills and has been completely revamped this year, it’s such a small world this horse world!

It felt like the first day of the sales fighting our way through the crowds when we arrived and it was still only 8.00am in the morning, are we mad?....YES we couldn’t miss a moment. I had coffee with the owners of Imperial Cavalier mid morning in front of the scoreboard which was heaving and although he’s such a well established horse it’s still a nerve wracking experience for them to go through and the thoughts of yesterdays dressage marks had been forgotten....as I always say it’s not just a dressage competition and it’s not over till it’s over. It was also here I was wondering why the Badminton world was looking a little blurry, I thought it was perhaps the wine from the previous evening but no I’d just put my contact lenses in the wrong eyes in my haste to get to Badminton!!

Sunday 24 April 2011

Badminton 2011 | Riders Thoughts Post Cross Country Part2

Badminton 2011 | Riders Thoughts Post Cross Country Part1

What the riders thought of the course

We caught up with some of the competitors at the end of today’s cross-country to find out how they felt about their rounds.

Sam Watson: Final Preparations

Cross country morning has arrived and even sun burnt faces will be looking a lot paler than they were last night. With a later start than normal, this morning is a great time to fit in the final course walk. Some of the riders, particularly the later ones, might have scheduled a bit of a lie-in with the intention of keeping as relaxed as possible.

There are very few preparations left to do, and the last thing a rider wants is to be sitting around aimlessly and allowing their nerves to eat away at their stomach. All the necessary riding gear, tack and equipment has been laid out and ready to go since last night. All the horses will go out for a leg stretch this morning, some in-hand with their dedicated grooms, but most will be under saddle having a pre-battle bonding session with their rider. The experienced competitors have been through all this before and their rituals and routines are now set in stone. That doesn’t mean they don’t get nervous, everyone gets nervous at Badminton.

The Ultimate Eventing Mastermind Is Crowned

By Badminton press officers Ellie Hughes and Emma Sewell

As the sun set over the Badminton Lake, an elite crowd was gathered by the Outside Chance bar for the ultimate eventing competition. No horsepower was required for this contest, it was brainpower only.
And these were the best brains in the business.

Paul Graham, ex-British Eventing Sport Manager, all-round horse trials oracle and one-stop telephone helpline for stricken eventers, versus Pippa Roome, Horse & Hound eventing editor, fountain of ALL eventing knowledge and the only brain in the business able to explain, in three concise sentences, the exact meaning of the black flag rule.
It was some time ago that the idea of an Eventing Mastermind was mooted – and where better place to hold it than at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials. Who would be crowned the Ultimate Eventing Oracle? Who is the sport’s biggest eventing geek?
There were serious prizes on offer to the winner – an Easter egg plus a bottle of Veuve Cliquot , the latter very generously sponsored by The Outside Chance’s proprietor Freddie Tulloch.

Badminton 2011 | Hugh Thomas - Cross Country Morning

Badminton 2011 | It's Cross Country Day

Sam Watson: Impressions On The Dressage Scoring

Jakarta Managed A Perfect 10
Dressage over and what a display! Six combinations in the thirties, another twenty seven in the forties, and only thirteen competitors with a score of 60 or higher. That’s impressive and a seriously high standard. Welcome to the World’s top event. The judging was the best I’ve ever seen on the international stage. As usual there was the odd discrepancy with 4’s and 7’s appearing for individual movements but that happens and will continue to do so until eventing also has a ‘video referee’! I say that with tongue in cheek, but I was genuinely impressed with the consistent percentages from top to bottom across the three judges. Every single horse in the top ten scored higher than 70% from each judge. That reflects consistency of both performance and judging and was a pure delight to watch. But now the dressage is over and the intricate details have already been forgotten. Why? Because there’s a bigger fish to fry. It’s called cross country….

Badminton 2011 | End Of Dressage Press Conference

Saturday 23 April 2011

Guest Blogger Rachel Wakefield Is Rooting For Archie

Rachel Wakefield
Welcome fellow Badmintonians......I’ve joined the Badminton carnival for the umpteenth year running and have actually packed the correct clothing for a change...i.e not much! I have the added bonus of a toddler to contend with this year and negotiating the cross country/shopping alley’s with a rampant nearly two year old trying to escape from the buggy has proved testing to say the least but c’est la vie!

We arrived on Thursday for the trot up....I’m still struggling with the days of what’s going on on what day as I’ve programmed Trot up on a Wednesday into my brain for the last 25 years so I’m old and confused now. Normally a quiet day was now heaving with the Grass Rooters and I have decided when I finally make my return to competitive riding am going to make it one of my goals.....they even lay on a party for them. My kind of competition.

Sam Watson: It's Getting Quiet & Serious Down At The Lorry Park

Redesigned Withdrawn
It’s Friday morning, we’re basked in sunshine yet again and things don’t look like changing. Some of the riders, and I would have included myself in this bracket, would have been praying for a last minute deluge of rain before tomorrow’s cross country. But it will take divine intervention to soften the hallowed turf of Badminton at this late stage. Different event horses, just like racehorses, can be better suited to different ground conditions. Generally speaking, this dry quick ground will suit those at the top end of the dressage leaderboard, but every rider will be concerned about their horse’s legs when running over ‘good’ ground conditions. The Badminton team have hardly drawn breath where watering the course is concerned, so the best ground is definitely out on that course. Despite that, there will be riders who haven’t performed a great test who will now change their tactics on Sunday. Experience may be the order of the day, rather than going for an all out win from low down in the field. These horses aren’t machines, and while Badminton is an occasion which we generally save our horses for, there’ll be riders looking to next year and beyond for their ‘big win’.

Friday 22 April 2011

Sam Watson Reflects On Day One Of Dressage

Laura Collett Is Delighted After Her Dressage Test
At the end of day one the riders at last have a leaderboard, or at least half a leaderboard to focus their sights on. For the riders that have been today their fate in the dressage phase has been decided. Those who have underperformed will have to muster a lot of mental strength to get over one disappointment and refocus for the next two disciplines. You can’t afford to head out on cross country day with your tail between your legs, or things will only get worse! For others it’s job done, time to pack away the dressage saddle and start concentrating on Sunday’s big test. And for the early leaders, every fence on that notorious course has just grown 10inches taller. With success comes pressure, some thrive on it and others just don’t.

Youngest rider heads the field after first day of dressage

Laura Collett, the youngest rider in the field, heads the leaderboard at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials after the first day of dressage.

Super Sunshine Shopping Spree

For eventing enthusiasts, Badminton is the pinnacle of the calendar, but for shopping enthusiasts it is also the season’s premier fixture. Wandering up and down the grassy aisles in the Gloucestershire sunshine beats the King’s Road, teeming with tourists, any day.

Jennifer aims to bag the fantastic five

American rider Jennifer Wooten and her mare The Good Witch are bidding to become the first combination to complete five different CCI**** events

The combination finished 11th at Pau in 2007, seventh at Rolex Kentucky in 2008, 31st at Burghley in 2009 and 18th at Luhmuhlen last year.

First-timer Joy Dawes looks forward to cross-country challenge

Joy Dawes is delighted to be at Badminton for the first time.

“I can see why riders rave about this event – having got here the atmosphere and stables are unlike that of any other three-day event.”

Sam Watson Watching The Dressage

Andrew Nicholson & Avebury

So what does it feel like to wake up at Badminton Horse Trials on competition morning? Well, sometimes getting to sleep can be a tricky one, this mainly applies to the newcomers but everyone has nerves to deal with in some shape or form. The emotions swing like a pendulum all week, ranging from euphoria for those who dare to dream about winning to pure fear, which everyone experiences. You’d be forgiven for thinking that the fear is in relation to those big scary jumps out on the cross country course, but it isn’t really. It’s the fear of failure.

Thursday 21 April 2011

Sam Watson Reflects on Today's Activities

Big Crowds For The Trot Up

As the sun begins its decent so too does the hustle and bustle of trot-up day. The second year of the Grassroots Festival has been a success, blessed by the weather and making no intrusion on the main event. The crowds today have been busy, thanks largely to the aforementioned Grassroots competition. However, when I was a youngster making my Badminton debut all of two years ago, the volume of people at the first horse inspection was one of the first things to really hit me.

Grassroots Finishes Bathed In Sunshine

Fabulous Sunshine For The Grassroots Finale

Under outstanding April sun, over 150 competitors rose to the challenge of the Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots Championships. Thus, realising their dream of competing on the hallowed Badminton turf.

This year's cross country course ran in a clock-wise direction mimicking the four star route. Designed by James Willis and built by the renowned Willis Brothers, the Grassroots course took on elements of the four star track and merged them into their own course.

Badminton 2011 | It All Starts Today, Including The Shopping!

The sun is shining, the shops have opened and the competitor spirit is in full swing at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trails. 

Starting a day earlier than usual, The horse trials opens with the Grassroots Championships which is the culmination of a national series for Britain’s amateur riders. In its second year of running the Championships fulfils the dreams of many riders to ride round the famous Badminton Park.

The main event begins this afternoon with the first horse inspection taking place in front of Badminton house at 4.30pm. This is immediately followed by the prize giving for the Grassroots Championships.

This year's CCI4*  fields entry includes seven past winners of Badminton, ensuring intense competition for the coveted trophy. First competitor for the dressage phase will hit the centre line at precisely 9.30. a.m. Friday.

Taking advantage of the long bank holiday weekend, the shopping village is already open and with  over 300 shops there is ample to satisfy everyone's needs and tastes. Whether you are looking for everything equine or you are a fashion enthusiast you'll find just what you were looking for and probably a few extras as well.

No need to pack a picnic as the numerous food stands offer everything from fine dining to wholesome and tasty take away snacks. With children aged 12 and under admitted free of charge, this will be a terrific family week end.

Guest Blogger: Sam Watson Switches Roles

Sam Watson | Guest Blogging At Badminton
Dear Badminton Enthusiasts,

So it is that Badminton 2011 is upon us. I’m Sam Watson and, up until last week, this was scheduled to be my third spin around what I unashamedly label The World’s Greatest Event. An uncharacteristic tumble at our last prep run and a subsequent minor injury to my top horse, Horseware Bushman, means that I have come here in an all-together different role, but one that is equally as terrifying….I have crossed over to the dark side and joined the press!! Throughout the week I will bring you Badminton from the riders’ point of view. What it takes to get here, what goes on behind the scenes, the mood and atmosphere in the lorry park and stable block, and the emotions, nerves, preparation and focus involved to be a part of this prestigious event.

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Badminton 2011 | Return Of The O'Connors

David & Karen O'Connor
Karen & David O'Connor are synonymous with eventing in the US, and their talents, expertise and experience is highly sort after. Both have previously competed at Badminton and their riding record on the world stage is amongst the best the sport has ever known.

Whilst Karen still competes at 4 star and championship level, David has been coaching the Canadian Eventing team, with  recent success and a silver medal in last year's World Equestrian Games in Kentucky. Three of that team are entered for the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, so David will be running a dual role as team coach for the Canadians, and chief cheer-leader for wife Karen who runs Mandiba, her US WEG Team mount.

Paul Tapner - One Year On

With all the highs and lows that last year's Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials Champion has had to face, Paul Tapner still manages to breeze in to Badminton with a big smile and a cheery disposition.

He is back to defend his title with another of his 4 star team, Kilfinnie, and has every faith this horse can match the efforts of stable mate and last year's winner, Inonothing, who waits at home after recovery from a stifle injury picked up at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky last October.

Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots Champsionships 2011 – End Of Day One!

As the four star competitors roll into the village of Badminton for the world-famous Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse trials, the Grassroots competitors have finished day one of the 2011 Badminton Grassroots Championships.

The competition was held at Badminton for the first time in 2010 in much different weather to what we are experiencing today! The blazing sunshine has emphasised the fantastic background of the day with over BE90 and BE100 competitors performing their dressage tests.

The series aims to champion those people who want to compete at the introductory levels of Eventing – at the other end of the spectrum from Badminton’s four star competition, and includes many riders who compete as amateurs or as a hobby.

The Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots Championship Starts Today

More Photos & News To Follow

Monday 18 April 2011

Andrew Nicholson | Live Chance Of Notching A Win At Badminton

"Badminton has an 'airy' feel about the place when arrive", according to Andrew Nicholson, "....whenever I arrive on the first day I get a different feel than from any other event....a good feeling....The riders are a little quieter, a little more serious....This is Badminton, the Wimbledon of Eventing"

I could say very similar things about his base on the edge of West Woods, as I arrive for a morning coffee with one of the most exciting cross country riders of our times. With stunning views across the hills of 'white horse country' near Marlborough in Wiltshire, his horses enjoy one of the most stunning vistas I've ever seen. As you enter the driveway horses poke their heads out of the windows of the American style barns - bright, alert and interested, yet relaxed and happy. This one of the busiest event yards on the circuit, with all the facilities an event rider needs. Like Andrew says 'you need good facilities to get the results'.

This New Zealander is as synonymous with eventing as Mark Todd is. He's been a member of the senior team as far back as 1984, just four short years after seeing his first British 3-Day Event at Badminton, when grooming for Mark Todd. Since then he has probably walked the Badminton course more times than anyone other than course designer, Hugh Thomas, and completed a record 29 times.

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Badminton 2011 - There's An App For That!

The Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials has gone truly mobile for the 2011 event with the launch of an iPhone App that brings all the news, views, interviews and results to your iPhone in a mobile friendly user interface.


  • Comprehensive Live Results
  • News, Twitter & Facebook Feeds
  • Audio & Video Content
  • Animated Cross Country Course Guide
  • Photo Galleries
  • Share Information via Email, Twitter & Facebook
  • Rider Profiles
  • Visitor & Ticket Information
  • Shopping Village Directory
  • Start Times & Timetable
  • Weather Forecast

The app produced in association with HSBC as part of their HSBC FEI Classics sponsorship provides access to all the news and information about the event that you can access out on the official Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials website www.badminton-horse.co.uk , but in the palm of your hand. It also integrates with key social media platforms so you can easily share news and photos from the event with your friends on twitter and facebook.

Saturday 2 April 2011

The Road Back To Badminton | At Home With The Tapners

Video Interview With Paul Tapner
Paul Tapner, winner of last year's Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, made the headlines last month after his horsebox was rear ended on the way to a showjumping competition, loaded with horses.

Despite this horrific accident in which neither horse or human were seriously injured, Paul has continued to make great strides in his preparation for this year's event and defence of his title. Badminton bound Kilfinnie heads to Belton CIC*** this weekend for his final prep run before relaxing with some spa and physio treatment and being fitted for his special "Badminton handmade shoes".

Friday 1 April 2011


Walk The Course With Badminton 2010 Winner Paul Tapner
Two of Britain’s top riders will lead course walks during this year’s Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.

Wiltshire-based Paul Tapner - last year’s Badminton winner on Inonothing- and Dorset-based William Fox-Pitt - one of Britain’s most successful event riders of all time - are hoping to raise thousands of pounds for Cancer Research UK along the way.

Volunteers are encouraged to raise £100 in sponsorship to take part in the walks which will give them a unique insight into one of the world’s most prestigious equestrian events.

Paul heads the first walk on Friday 22nd April at 5:30pm, followed by William on Saturday 23rd April at 11am.