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Badminton 2023 Round Up

Ros Canter and Lordships Graffalo at Badminton.

Another year and another fantastic Badminton Horse Trials. I feel like there has been a fair bit of controversy around the event this year, partly due to the new style of cross country, party due to the challenging conditions and partly down to the actions of 1 rider in particular. But on the whole, I think it was a great event and a great example of how the sport can keep evolving.

My personal connection

This was a particularly special Badminton for me this year. For those of you who don’t know, I went to Writtle University and was on the Stud (Lordships Stud) course. This is where Lordships Graffalo was born. He was out of one of my lecturers mares and I got to work with him as a yearling. It’s been fantastic watching him and his half sister do so well the past few years having that connection to them.

Challenging Cross Country

The cross country this year was a new question compared to other years. Thanks to the new technology of pins, making fences safer, there were a lot more old style fences we don’t see too often anymore. There is also the idea of potentially using more pinned fences to seperate the field rather than falls. One fence in particular cause a lot of discussion amoungst the riders.

The direct route into the lake involved jumping a pinned bar down into the water. There was a feeling that this would penalise good horses who naturally brush over the bar. William Fox-Pitt even made a comment about riders boycotting this fence out of protest. However, many riders still jumped the direct route and the pin was only triggered once, by Dan Jocelyn and this would have prevented a fall. So it seems that it rode a lot better than expected.

But the biggest challenge on the cross country course was the weather! There was heavy rain for the days before cross country. The afternoon before the cross country the ground staff even made the decision to make some changes to the course, removing some elements and changing the decoration to make it safer. When cross country day came, the sun came out and it was one of the hottest days of the year! This meant horses had the added stamina challenge of navigating the stamina sapping heavy ground in the heat. 11 riders retired, some making the wise decision to pull up tiring horses and save them for another day.

The Final 10

  1. Rosaling Canter & Lordships Graffalo 35.3
  2. Oliver Townend & Ballaghmor Class 50.3
  3. Austin O’Connor & Colorado Blue 51.9
  4. Tom McEwen & Toledo De Kerser 54.4
  5. Tom Jackson & Capels Hollow Drift 58.4
  6. Gemma Stevens & Jalapeno 60.1
  7. Tim Price & Vitali 63.1
  8. Bubby Upton & Cola 64.2
  9. Rosalind Canter & Pencos Crown Jewel 64.4
  10. Pippa Funnell & Majas Hope 66.2

We need to talk about Oliver

Oliver Townend is a great rider who has achieved some incredible things during his career. Just look at how impressive Ballaghmor Class has been, he is always a top contender at 5 star events and must have one of the best, if not the best records, of current 5 star horses.

However, things need to change. Once again, there has been questions raised about Oliver’s riding in competition. After a few messy jumps, triggering a pin on one of the large tables, the clearly tired Swallow Springs was pulled up by the officials and they were eliminated. Oliver has since been given an official warning for this.

I can understand riders making mistakes. I can understand the pressure of competition getting to you. But this is not a one off with Oliver. In 2018 he was given a warning for his overuse of the whip on his horses. And there have been other cases too. His behaviour appears to be questioned by the public and officials far more than any other rider. What has to happen for this to change?

Last Updated on 12/05/2023

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