Badminton Horse Trials ‘Eventful’ Cross Country
After an eventful cross country day at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, it is all change at the top of the leader board once more.
Christopher Burton had a disappointing stop with Graf Liberty at the C element of fence 15 – the Hildon Water Pond – after the horse lost impulsion coming out of the water from the B element and up the bank to the skinny log. “What a shame, he jumped so well” Chris said of the 12 year old Irish Sports Horse. “Perhaps I should have been more aggressive at the fence but there is a 4* win in this horse yet.”
Taking advantage of this error and climbing into the top stop overnight is Germany’s Ingird Klimke riding her championship and Olympic partner, Horseware Hale Bob. Initially the combination were misawarded 11 penalty points for apparently breaking a frangible pin on a fence, but on investigation this was not the case and so the points were subsequently removed.
“I’m so proud of him, he jumped super but he was incredibly strong at some points and I could see we were almost ahead of our minute markers” Ingrid said about “Bobby’s” exuberant attacking of the course. Ahead of today’s showjumping, Ingrid appeared confident of the 13 year old Oldenburg gelding. “He usually jumps clear so I can sleep well tonight,” she said of Horseware Hale Bob, “but Michael is so close behind we both really need to jump clear!” she smiled, even suggesting she might manage a small celebration this evening.
Ingrid’s overnight score is 39.6 – just 1 time penalty ahead of current Olympic and reigning Badminton champion, Michael Jung who added nothing to his dressage score of 40.0 with a stonking clear round two seconds inside the time, pulling him up from 9th after dressage overnight to eventual second placed with La Biosthetique Sam FBW. The 17 year old Irish bred gelding jumped with his usual exuberant flare and the pair sailed around the cross country course with the confidence only a double Olympic champion combination could display.
“The important thing was to give him confidence the whole way around because there was nowhere to reward the horse if you had a bad jump, you also had to give your horse enough energy to get through to the finish,” Jung said, “He was a bit strong in the beginning but then he came back after a few jumps, but we trust each other very much and you need to know your horse on this cross country course.”
La Biosthetique Sam FBW and Michael Jung usually manage to jump an accurate and clear show jumping round, but he is possibly still haunted by rolling a pole on the last fence which cost him the title here in 2013. But the pressure is definitely on between him and his German compatriot.
Lying in third place is Badminton stalwart himself, New Zealand’s Andrew Nicholson who had improved his fifth place by adding just 4.4 time penalties to his dressage score, to sit with 40.4 penalties going into the show jumping. Having completed badminton 35 times, Nicholson is still yet to win it, but his best chance for a number of years lies with his Olympic and World Championship partner, the 17 year old chestnut gelding Nereo.
It was a good course that makes you sit on your backside. From the second fence onwards you had to work and be quite accurate with your distances,” Andrew said of the course. “I felt like I had to concentrate on both my horses all the way round and I felt like they were concentrating very hard on each fence – maybe its just because I’m getting old!” he joked.
The only other rider to complete Eric Winter’s challenging track inside the time was New Zealand’s Time Price on the 11 year old British bred Xavier Faer. “I’m a bit sick of a few mediocre results recently and the horse is the right type to go round on this ground inside the time, so I pushed on with the intention of finishing that way,” Tim said of the British Sports Horse gelding. Pulling up from 34th position after the dressage to fourth, Tim added nothing to the 48.2 penalties with the gelding and goes into today’s show jumping phase with confidence “he’s usually a good jumper so I’m hopeful we can keep our position if not improve it,” Tim said.
Overall, Eric Winter’s cross country course was a thinking man’s course and caused a lot more trouble than most had anticipated. With 16 eliminations, and a further 16 riders retiring on course, it is fair to surmount that The Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials 2017 is most definitely not a dressage competition.
The list of those that did not complete certainly contained a number of high profile riders – past winner Paul Tapner being one of them on Bonza King of Rogues and Izzy Taylor with KBIS Briarlands Matilda unfortunately came a cropper at the KBIS bridge at fence 12. Of those who retired on course, were Great Britain’s Nicola Wilson on Annie Clover and Germany’s Bettina Hoy with Designer 10.
Best of the Brits going into today’s showjumping is relatively unknown rider, Rosalind Canter with her horse Allstar B who lies just ahead of Oliver Townend with ODT Ghareeb.
With less than a pole between the top three, it is certainly clear that the show jumping phase is going to prove equally influential and there is absolutely all to play for. If Michael Jung takes back to back titles with his mount, he will only be the fifth combination to ever do so in Badminton’s history, and if either Ingrid Klimke or Andrew Nicholson lift the trophy, then the event will see a new winner etched into it’s history.