Sunday, 24 April 2011
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.
In true Mastermind style, we had two rounds – specialist subject and general knowledge. Paul opted to answer questions on ‘International teams 2000-2010’, while Pippa chose ‘Badminton history’.
So, at our quizmaster John Kyle’s command, battle commenced.
Pippa managed to score 8 out of 10 on her specialist subject, including naming all the grey horses that have won Badminton in the event’s history and the number of years legendary course-designer Frank Weldon was at the helm.
Paul kept the pressure on by answering 7 out of his 10 questions correctly, although some felt that his multi-faceted questions, concocted by Horse & Hound’s Catherine Austen, were on the harsh side – naming all the years (and with which horses) top young rider, and Badminton competitor, Laura Collett had won medals at pony, junior and young rider level, for example.
But it was still all to play for going into the general knowledge round and these questions, thought up by press office assistant Ellie Hughes, were a true test of our contestants’ all-round geekness and ranged from naming Mary King’s first pony to spelling the name of German World Champion Michael Jung’s ride Weidezaunprofi’s River Of Joy.
In the ensuing five minutes of rapid fire questions and answers, one anorak emerged on top. Pippa Roome was crowed the Ultimate Eventing Oracle. Congratulations Pippa!
Rumour has it she is keen for a re-run next year, so if anyone out there thinks they are up to the task, please let us know.
Our thanks go to The Outside Chance and The Jockey Club, for their fantastic hospitality and sponsorship. Do make sure you fit in a trip to this unique bar beside the Lake, which will be serving drinks and good food until 10pm this evening. We can thoroughly recommend it and will be returning later.