how is the course going
Eric Winter’s track proves quite a five-star test in the early stages of the Cross Country Badminton Horse Trials, at the Mars Equestrian sponsored event. Pioneer Kirsty Chabert was knocked out at second Nyetimber Corner at 20, while Toledo De Kerser, dressage runner-up Tom McEwen, dropped on the rebound while performing his usual dazzling trick.
In the first third of the peloton, there were only two riders in time. Irishman Austin O’Connor and his Olympic mount Colorado Blue look set to climb away from 58th place after the first phase after stopping the clock four seconds inside.
“After the Olympics, a lot of people said he was one of the best cross-country horses in the world, and it’s up to me not to disappoint him,” Austin said. ” It’s very hard. Dimensionally from the beginning everything is an effort. It’s really good cross because you have to mix everything. You walk over a distance but you don’t necessarily stay over the distance, it’s instinctive piloting. Very good lesson design.
Oliver Townend and Swallow Springs crossed the finish line eight seconds inside time. However, it was later ruled he hadn’t skipped the button at the quarry (4C close), when Gray took off with a stride ahead and Oliver did well to stay.
Meanwhile, Piggy March and Vanir Kamira showed why they are defending champions after an early scare dropping a leg at Huntsman’s Close. They stopped the clock just a second outside the optimum.
Badminton Horse Trials cross-country: lots of action
There was early drama with Toledo crashing followed two rides later by a bad crash for European champion JL Dublin and Nicola Wilson at the Mars M flowerbox at 27. This fence was later removed. Nicola was taken to hospital for tests and is said to be stable. The horse recovered after the fall.
There was a third horse fall before lunchtime, when Cathal Daniels’ rider Barrichello emerged from an extra stride at the Savills Hay Feeders (fence 29B) and somersaulted. Fortunately, the horse and rider quickly got up and left.
There were also two runner crashes – Ben Hobday was just warned of Shadow Man at Mars M (closing 26), which also paid for American rider Lillian Heard’s chances on LCC Barnaby.
So far two runners have given up – Pippa Funnell had an awkward jump when Billy Walk On crossed Element C at KBIS Brush Village (14ABC) and the bay then refused the rolltop in the water a few fences later . After carefully going through this complex, Pippa raised her hand to retire. And Kiwi rider Bundy Philpott also called it a day on Tresca NZPH at Nyetimber Corners.
Helen Wilson was eliminated after cumulative rejections on My Ernie, her offer ending at the bounce of the solar panels.
‘It’s whoa, whoa, boom’
The runners agree that the course is hard, big from the start and very intense.
William Fox-Pitt finished seven seconds ahead of his first Oratorio and said it was “exciting to drive”.
“Although it’s all right and in front of you, there’s a lot of left swipes and two right strides for a jump,” he said. “Sometimes, even three steps away, you can’t see the fence, so there’s a lot of whoa, whoa, whoa, boom! So you need a horse that listens enough to that turn and is fast enough to pick things up. There’s enough repetitive left, jerk, jump, whether you’re at the quarry or the lake or Huntsman’s. I think there’s only one right turn, so that’s probably what attracts people. They don’t have time to right themselves, balance themselves and get back up. I think they are a little surprised.
“I was so happy with my horse. It was truly authentic, I couldn’t have asked for more.
Read our complete guide to badminton forms in this week’s issue of Horse & Dog (edition of May 5, 2022). Our outstanding 20-page badminton report will be in our May 12 issue and will keep you up to date with all the badminton week action via horseandhound.co.uk, where a host of features and reports will be released.
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