Lausanne (SUI), 25 April 2011 – It was a special moment in Eventing history as an ecstatic crowd at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (GBR), first leg of the HSBC FEI Classics, rose to their feet to salute the achievement of Mark Todd (NZL) in winning for the fourth time here since 1980.
“Thirty-one years’ experience comes in handy sometimes!” joked the ever-relaxed Todd, whose mount NZB Land Vision had never experienced the rarefied CCI4* atmosphere before.
“It is incredibly special, though, right up there with the back-to-back Olympic golds. When I came back to the sport (in 2008) it was to see if I could get back to top level. It has always been my aim to win another big one.”
Long acknowledged as the one of the best horsemen the world has ever seen, Todd is also the oldest winner of Badminton (after Andrew Hoy) by an astonishing eight years; he has matched Mark Phillips’ record of four Badminton victories (only Lucinda Green has more, six) and has achieved this major victory after just three years back in the sport after an eight-year “retirement”.
Lausanne (SUI), 24 April 2011 – There was a thrilling climax to Cross-Country day at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials – the first leg of the HSBC FEI Classics – when Mark Todd (NZL) returned to a hero’s welcome, having produced a masterful display of riding to bring the inexperienced NZB Land Vision home clear and into the lead.
However, the three-time Badminton winner and double Olympic champion will need all his renowned skill in tomorrow’s Jumping phase for, in a remarkable result, the price of one fence covers the top 12 riders.
“Land Vision is a good horse but he’s relatively young (10) and he did feel green,” said Todd, whose last appearance in a CCI4* press conference was 12 years ago when he finished second on Word Perfect.
“He definitely felt tired after Huntsmans Close and I had to nurse him home, but he felt really genuine. I had to give him a bit of a shake-up in the Quarry but he picked up and that’s the sign of a good horse.”
Lausanne (SUI), 23 April 2011 – A trio of British girls head the leaderboard after the Dressage phase at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (GBR), the first leg of the HSBC FEI Classics 2011.
Ruth Edge (GBR), in pole position with the excellent score of 33.3 penalties on the 17-year-old Two Thyme, winner at Luhmühlen in 2007, is no stranger to the limelight in this phase – indeed, she regularly wins national titles in this discipline.
“There’s always a lot of pressure on me here and I’m anxious not to let anyone down because it’s a lot of work to get this horse here,’ she said. “But he was awesome today and belied his age. As he’s older, I hadn’t done much work with him this week and, as a result, he felt physically fresh.”
Piggy French (GBR), second, had the distinction of scoring the only 10 of the competition, awarded by Ground Jury President Anne-Mette Binder (DEN) for her halt on Jakata, and it was greeted by a deafening roar of approval from the packed stands.
Lausanne (SUI), 22 April 2011 – Laura Collett (GBR) made a dream start to her debut at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (GBR), the first leg of the HSBC FEI Classics, when heading several more experienced riders at the end of the first day of Dressage.
Collett, 21, is renowned for having a cool head and a tidy style – she was a successful rider of show ponies as a child – and she presented a neat and pleasing picture on the 12-year-old Dutch-bred Rayef, the horse on which she won Junior and Young Rider European titles in 2007 and 2009.
“That’s his best test ever,” said a delighted Collett on learning of her score of 36.5 penalties, which gives her a 3.3 lead over Germany’s Marina Köhncke. “Yogi Briesner (trainer) told me to ride as if I was at home. Rayef didn’t make any mistakes and he was soft and attentive. It was nice to sit on.
“My whole life has been about getting to Badminton, so to be here for the first time on such a good horse feels amazing.”
Lexington, KY – All 84 horses presented at the first Horse Inspection at the 2011 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials were accepted by the Ground Jury without incident. This includes three American horses: Mandiba, BallyNoe Castle RM, and The Good Witch.
With their riders, Karen O’Connor, who contested her first Badminton in 1979, Buck Davidson, whose father Bruce was the first U.S. winner in 1995, and Jennifer Wooten-DaFoe, who looks to cross Badminton off the list of CCI4*s to complete with her diminutive mare, these horses are trying to do something that has only been done twice before by Americans:
Karen O’Connor and Mandiba are the most experienced combination having represented the U.S. at both the 2008 Olympic Games and as part of the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. O’Connor’s husband David was the second U.S. rider to win the prestigious event, when he took the honor with Custom Made in 1997.
“Mandiba is in great form,” said O’Connor of the 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse. “He has never had a better run up to a CCI4*. He’s fit, he’s well, he’s sound and he is ready and I am really excited about the weekend. It’s all out there for me to give this horse the chance he deserves.”
2 May 2010 – Paul Tapner (AUS) was clearly overjoyed as he came through the finish line at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (GBR) on his second ride, Inonothing. His celebrations were more than justified as, after an enthralling and dramatic Cross Country day, he found himself in the lead at a 4-star event for the first time.
The track at Badminton, the second leg of the HSBC FEI Classics, proved as enigmatic as ever, taking its fair share of high-profile scalps, including all the top five riders after Dressage.
“I was aware that there were quite a lot faults occurring,” said British-based Tapner, 34, who was equal 11th after Dressage. “But after I’d ridden my first horse (Stormhill Michael, 12th) I had a roast lunch and then a sleep in the lorry and tried to forget about it. Inonothing is a unique horse to ride across country; he’s so small and nippy.”
If Tapner wins tomorrow, he will be the third Australian rider to do so in the last four years, following Andrew Hoy (2006) and Lucinda Fredericks (2007).
1 May 2010 – Kai Rüder (GER) and his powerful stallion Le Prince des Bois held an appropriately regal lead at the close of Dressage at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (GBR), the second leg of the HSBC FEI Classics.
Rüder, 39 and making his Badminton debut after a 20-year quest, has a 5.8-penalty lead over first day leader Ruth Edge (GBR) on Two Thyme ahead of what is predicted to be an influential Cross Country day due to the forecast heavy rain.
The leading duo finished 10th at Burghley (GBR) last year – when Rüder won the HSBC Training Bursary for the best 4-star debut – and have spent the last month based in England with German team trainer Christopher Bartle (GBR).
Le Prince des Bois, who performs a reliably expressive Dressage test, is by Yarlands Summer Song, the stallion ridden with such panache at Badminton in the 1990s by France’s Marie-Christine Duroy.