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How hard is it to win the Grand Slam of Eventing?

Tom Crisp at Burghley. How hard is the grand slam of eventing

The Grand Slam, or Triple Crown, of Eventing is when a rider wins back to back Kentucky, Badminton and Burghley events. This can be done in any order as long as they are all within 12 months of each other and has so far only been achieved by two riders. But how hard is it to achieve this? We had a look at some data to give you an idea of just how hard it is to win the Grand Slam of Eventing.

Why have so few riders won the Grand Slam of Eventing?

One of the big reasons why so few riders have won the Grand Slam of Eventing is that it is so hard to win just one of these events. Many top riders are yet to add one of these titles to their career! Let’s have a quick look at the Top 10 riders in the current FEI rankings:

PositionRiderKentucky WinsBadminton WinsBurghley Wins
1Oliver Townend312
2Michael Jung411
3Tom McEwen000
4Pippa Funnel132
5Jonelle Price010
6Tim Price001
7Gemma Tattersall000
8Piggy March010
9William Coleman000
10Boyd Martin000

4 of the Top 10 Eventers in the world haven’t won any of these events. 3 riders have only won 1 of these events. Of the other 3 riders, 2 have won the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing and the other (Oliver Townend) has won all the events but not back to back.

When we look back at past winners of these events back to when the Kentucky Event started, 8 riders have achieved what we call the Career Grand Slam, where they win all of these events at least once over the course of their career.

RiderKentucky WinsBadminton WinsBurghley Wins
Andrew Hoy112
Andrew Nicholson115
Bruce Davidson411
Lucinda Fredericks111
Mary King121
Michael Jung411
Pippa Funnell132
William Fox-Pitt326

With only 8 riders managing to complete the Career Grand Slam, it’s not surprising that only two riders have managed to earn the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing.

Who has won the Grand Slam Of Eventing?

Pippa Funnell was the first person to win the Grand Slam in 2003. She won Kentucky with Primmore’s Pride, Badminton with Supreme Rock and Burghley again on Primmore’s Pride.

Michael Jung won in 2016. He won Burghley 2015 with La Biosthetique Sam FBW. Then in 2016 he won Kentucky with FischerRocana FST then Badminton with La Biosthetique Sam FBW again.

Other riders have come close to winning, winning 2 back to back events before missing out in the last one. These riders include: Andrew Hoy (2006), Oliver Townend (2010), William Fox-Pitt (2012) and Andrew Nicholson (2013).

Can a horse win the Grand Slam of Eventing?

Due to Badminton and Kentucky usually being within a week of each other, it is unlikely that we will see a horse win the Grand Slam. It is also worth noting that the cross country phase can be very different between events. A great Badminton horse may not be a great Burghley horse and vice versa. However, horses can earn the Career Grand Slam title.

2 horses have achieved this to date:

  • Headley Britannia
    Ridden by Lucinda Fredericks this mare won each of the 3 events once.
  • Primmore’s Pride
    Ridden by Pippa Funnell and responsible for her Kentucky and Burghley Grand Slam rides, he also won Badminton outside of her Grand Slam win.

Who are some of the best in these events?

These three events are some of the most prestigious in the sport. But who has the best track record in these events?

1William Fox-Pitt11
2Mark Todd9
=3Lucinda Green8
=3Virginia Leng8
5Andrew Nicholson7
=6Bruce Davidson6
=6Michael Jung6
=6Oliver Townend6
=6Pippa Funnell6

I went back to 1961 for Badminton & Burghley and 1979 for Kentucky to pull of this data. During this time period, only 26 riders managed to win more than one of these events. With most of these events having run every year with just the occasional break, only 26 riders have managed to win more than 1 title from roughly 160.

During this same period, there were also 25 horses who won more than one of these events. 7 horses managed to win 3 of them!

  • Avebury
  • Doctor Peaches
  • Fischer Rocana
  • Headley Britannia
  • Priceless
  • Primmore’s Pride
  • Winsome Adante

Seeing how few riders have managed to win the three events seperately, it really isn’t surprising that only two riders have managed to win the Grand Slam of Eventing to date. If anything, it is pretty amazing that two riders have managed this. I find it amazing how many of our current top 10 riders haven’t won one of these events.

Last Updated on 13/05/2022

1 thought on “How hard is it to win the Grand Slam of Eventing?”

  1. Excellent article. Having followed eventing for over 45 years, including over a decade as an equestrian journalist and as an event organiser (South East Eventers League & Borde Hill HT), I’m not surprised how many of the current top 10 riders haven’t won one of the Grand Slam events. There are so many variables in taking a title – some of which are beyond a rider’s control such as weather. Yes, they can be managed but not guaranteed. Perhaps, that is why there have some surprising but welcome ‘one hit’ winners – like my friend Sam Griffiths & Paulank Brokagh at Badminton 2014 https://rolandclarke.com/2014/07/12/sam-griffiths-interview-with-the-2014-badminton-winner/

    Looking at the best track record list makes me wonder how far horsemanship and access to top horses is a factor. I’m not surprised that William tops the list as he was always No 1 for me, both for his horsemanship and personality – someone I’d even class as a friend who often asked how I was first. Toddy was a close 2nd, and my friendship with supreme horsewoman Lucinda Green goes back decades. The mystery is why Blyth Tait missed out somehow.

    The final factor has to be dogged determination and dedication, something Pippa Funnell has to an acute degree. Yes, others have it, but maybe all the variables still need to align.

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