No Badminton for “Willie or Chilli”: Reigning champ Fox-Pitt withdraws

William Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning at Weston Park on April 10.
William Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning at Weston Park on April 10. © Fox-Pitt Eventing

Defending champion William Fox-Pitt will not take his place at next month’s Badminton Horse Trials, saying his preparation  “has run out of time”.

One of Britain’s most popular riders, Fox-Pitt was seriously injured late last year in a fall at an event in France and was placed in an induced coma. He remained in intensive care for nearly two weeks. Fox-Pitt made his return to competition at Burnham Market earlier this month.

Fox-Pitt was to ride Parklane Hawk at Badminton but did not feel his preparation was ideal, particularly after a disappointing run at Weston Park Horse Trials. He and Parklane Hawk had an “unfortunate tumble” on the cross-country at a corner three fences from the end.

“He had gone brilliantly until then and was very unlucky,” Fox-Pitt said.

“He and I are both fine, and it is hopefully good to have had my first fall since Lion d’Angers and suffered no ill effects.  He fortunately has come to no harm and seems perfectly well.

“Oslo did the dressage and produced a nice test. He was very happy to be out again after a long time. But I decided not to risk him in the show jumping or cross-country so he had a very boring day; he will start a bit later on.

He said his 2015 Badminton winner Chilli Morning was also happy to be out. “He led the dressage in his arena on a score of 27 and did a lovely clear show jumping. However, as there was no pressure on him I decided not to take him cross country. He will have to start a bit later on.”

Fox-Pitt said it was “obviously a shame not to be heading back (to Badminton) but you have to have the right preparation for a competition like this. Parklane Hawk has got the whole autumn to look forward to.”

Badminton Horse Trials director Hugh Thomas said organisers were sorry not to have the reigning champion back. “But we are delighted that William is in such good health and wish him the best of luck for a successful rest of the season.”

Fox-Pitt’s next big target was the first leg of the Event Rider Masters at Chatsworth, and he would be competing this weekend at Bicton.

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