As you will undoubtably already know, Mark Todd did it again and in such style! He is the Badminton Champion of 2011. It was an exciting and at times dramatic Badminton and after the XC, any one of 9 riders could have taken the title if they jumped clear and those above them didn’t. But, of course Mark Todd did jump clear and he won again, 31 years after first taking the title, which was 10 years before the young star Laura Collett (8th) was even born! Piggy French and Mary King also jumped clear to take 2nd and 3rd place – they are such class riders. Before the SJ, they were lying 5th and 7th! At the press conference, Mary said that when she was a little girl, Piggy used to write fan letters to Mary and Mary used to write back. A few years on and Piggy has beaten Mary at her own game! Mary will now write the fan letters! Poles down in the show jumping were very expensive. I felt so sorry for Nicola Wilson who dropped from 3rd to 7th with just one pole down. It was really disappointing that Tina Cook had to withdraw Miners Frolic before the dressage because her horse had a bad reaction to an insect bite on his withers and Pippa Funnell withdrew both hers.
Our local riders had mixed fortunes. Firstly I’m very pleased to say that Louise Skelton and Partly Pickled are ok after a terrible fall at the penultimate cross country fence. Louise thinks Pickle may have mistaken the beginning of a strip of grass to be a ditch and took off when he should have put in another stride. The result was a very bad fall which left Pickle down on the ground winded for a minute and Louise battered and bruised. Fortunately she had been thrown clear. Pickle has been x-rayed and he is ok. They were clear up to that point and were going really well, so it was very bad luck.
Badminton regulars James Robinson and Comanche had yet another good result, finishing 20th in this his 9th year at the great event. If only ‘Henry’ would treat the show jumps with a little more respect, he would have come =15th.
Alice Pearson at her first Badminton, must have been delighted. She and Beau Bear were very impressive cross country, but it was tight at the top, so the time penalties incurred plus a couple of rails down SJ the next day did push her down the order, but what an achievement at her first Badminton and while a lot of attention has been given to 21 year old Laura Collett, Alice is still only 23.
Worcestershire’s Rosie Thomas with Barry’s Best put in another great performance XC, making it look so easy, but again time penalties and a show jump down were costly. Also from Worcestershire, Carolyne Ryan-Bell sadly retired the lovely grey horse Rathmoyle King after a fall at Huntsman’s Close. Another faller was Shropshire based Oliver Townend who fell when coming out of the quarry.
Gloucestershire’s Nick Gauntlett with Elektron was 28th.
I was extremely privileged to be one of the 3 photographers for the Badminton Press office for both the main event and the Grassroots Championships. The images are on the Badminton website.
For the news, photos and results from Badminton, visit www.badminton-horse.co.uk.