Kiwi contenders at Badminton Horse Trials: The run-down

Caroline Powell and Lenamore
Caroline Powell and Lenamore, who completed the Badminton cross-country seven times. © Mike Bain

New Zealand’s eventing combinations are chasing top results at the weekend’s Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials as competition mounts for a place on this year’s Rio Olympic squad.

New Zealand has an impressive history at the event – Caroline Powell’s Lenamore is one of just four horses to have seven completions of the cross-country and many Kiwi riders have been awarded the Armada Dish for five completions.

Late withdrawal Andrew Nicholson’s name is etched in the history books at Badminton. With 35 completions, no-one comes close to his efforts, but a win there has continued to elude him.

The Giuseppe Della Chiesa cross-country course will run in the same direction as 2015 but is said to be a very different course. The cross country includes 33 fences with 45 jumping efforts over the 6500 metres.

Here’s a run-down of the Kiwi horses and riders tackling Badminton.

Mark Todd (NZL) and Leonidas II
Mark Todd and Leonidas II. © Steph Freeman

Mark Todd – Leonidas II

At 60, four-time winner Todd is the oldest rider to have won Badminton, an honour he earned in 2011 when at 55 he won aboard NZB Land Vision. He has 25 completions to his credit.

The UK based seven-time Olympian is based in Wiltshire outside Swindon. He and Leonidas were fourth at Badminton last year, and sixth at Burghley.

Todd won his first Badminton with Southern Comfort in 1980. He is particularly remembered for his partnership with the diminutive Charisma on whom he won two Olympic gold medals (1984 and 1988). In the 1992 Olympic Games, Todd competed in show jumping as well as eventing. He has also won Burghley five times.

Leonidas has been a very consistent horse for Todd, almost always finishing in the top 10 and was last year fourth at Badminton.

“Badminton is our Wimbledon,” Todd said. “It is very historic … the one we all love to go to and do well at.”

He’s confident Leonidas will put in a good show.

“I am very happy with him going in. If he is settled and I can get a good dressage test out of him – which he is well capable of – he should go very well. Michael (Jung) may be going there to chase the triple crown (the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing as the winner of Burghley, Kentucky and Badminton) but we will all be there trying to stop him.”

Leonidas II is a 12-year-old German-bred Holsteiner gelding. He is by Landos out of a mare by the Thoroughbred Parco. He is owned by Di Brunsden, Peter Cattell and Mark Todd.

Jock Paget and Clifton Lush, who are in fifth place.
Jock Paget and Clifton Lush. © Mike Bain

Jock Paget – Clifton Lush

It will be a memorable Badminton for Jonathan Paget, 32, as his 2013 winner Clifton Promise is being given a special retirement ceremony on the final day,

Both Paget and Promise’s owner Frances Stead say it is a fitting send off for such a great horse who has an impressive record at 4* level and was seventh at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

This year Paget starts on Clifton Lush, on whom he was third last year at Badminton and he is keen to better that in 2016.

“Badminton is a special event for me,” Paget said. “It is very intense and the competition always a very high standard. It looks tough again and I have no doubt all the riders will be treating it with a lot of respect.”

Clifton Lush is a 17-year-old New Zealand Thoroughbred. He is by Half Iced out of a mare by Le Grand Seigneur. In April 2007 Lush fell in the field and broke 9 thoracic vertebrae (withers) which resulted in him being cross-tied in the stable for three months and then a further three months on box rest and as a result he is now two inches shorter.Clifton Lush first started at Badminton in 2010 with his former rider Joe Meyer.

Clifton Lush is owned by Frances Stead and Lucy Allison.

Third place at Burghley went to Jonelle Price (NZL) and Classic Moet.
Jonelle Price and Classic Moet. © Mike Bain

Jonelle Price – Classic Moet

Jonelle Price and her 13-year-old black mare Classic Moet are renowned for their speed and were New Zealand’s best at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in France. Last year they were fifth at Burghley and secured a top 20 finish at Badminton.

Price, 35 is based near Marlborough in Wiltshire where she runs a yard with husband Tim.

With Badminton entry Classic Moet she represented NZ as an individual at WEG where she was fourth and Classic Moet was the highest placed mare with the fastest time of the day. Last year the pair was fifth at Burghley and Classic Moet was again the fastest and highest placed mare. In 2014 with Faerie Dianimo, she won the Blenheim CIC3* and the mare was then fourth at her first four-star in Pau. In 2015 the pair was second at Luhmuhlen.

With Flintstar she was a member of the New Zealand team that won bronze at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Classic Moet, owned by Trisha Rickards, is a 12-year-old British-bred mare. Bred by Elaine Hepworth she is by the thoroughbred Classic out of a mare by Bohemond. She was produced to two-star level by Karen Dixon then acquired by Trisha and ridden by Darrell Scaife and Elizabeth Power before the ride passed to Jonelle in 2013.

Blyth Tait (NZL) on Bear Necessity V
Blyth Tait and Bear Necessity V. © Mike Bain

Blyth Tait – Bear Necessity V

Blyth Tait, 54, last started at Badminton in 2003 on Eze and has 14 completions of the testing event to his credit. But the event will be a first for 11-year-old Bear Necessity V, who last year finished 15th at the 4* in Pau.

The former double World Champion and Olympic individual gold medallist who is based near Cheltenham, has been second three times.

In 1989 he was second at Badminton with Messiah and went on to win double gold at WEG with Ready Teddy.  At the 1992 Olympic Games he won individual bronze and team silver and at Atlanta in 1996 won individual gold with Ready Teddy and team bronze with Chesterfield. In 1998 he won World individual and team gold medals for a second time at WEG in Rome.

After his fourth Olympic Games appearance in Athens 2004, Tait retired from eventing and returned to New Zealand to concentrate on breeding racehorses. He was also the performance manager for the New Zealand eventing team. Tait returned to competition in 2011 and is now based back in the UK.

Bear Necessity is an 11-year-old Dutch-bred gelding of unverified breeding and has been ridden by Tait since 2012. He is owned by Ronnie Bartlett and Blyth Tait.

Tim Price has jumped into second place with Ringwood Sky Boy.
Tim Price and Ringwood Sky Boy. © Mike Bain

Tim Price – Ringwood Sky Boy

For the last two years at Badminton, Price has won the William Miflin trophy for the ride closest to the optimum time. In 2014 Price celebrated the biggest win of his career to date when heading the four-star at Luhmuhlen with Wesko. Last year the pair was second at Luhmuhlen and third at Pau.

Price heads to Badminton with Ringwood Skyboy who he believes has what it takes to do well at one of the world’s toughest events.

“He has never felt better,” Price said. “He is an absolute pleasure to ride. It has taken all of his 13 years to be strong enough, able to withstand the physical demands of the cross-country, and to be happy and healthy the next day.”

The combination was second at Burghley in 2015 and had a top 10 finish at Badminton in 2014.

Ringwood Sky Boy, is a 12-year-old ISH gelding, is owned by, Robert Taylor, Varenna Allen, and Tim Price. He is by the Irish-based Holstein Courage II out of a mare by the influential Irish thoroughbred Sky Boy.

New Zealand Eventing Horse of the Year winners Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation.
Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation.

Clarke Johnstone – Balmoral Sensation

Clarke Johnstone is excited to be getting out at his first big UK start with Balmoral Sensation, the 12-year-old grey gelding who placed third in his first 4* at Adelaide in November.

It is the first Badminton for the combination, which has won seven of their 10 international starts together. In total, Balmoral Sensation has 11 international wins to his name.

With Orient Express Johnstone was a member of the bronze medal winning team at WEG 2010. With Incognito he jumped double clear at Burghley in 2011 (17th) and with KS Secrets won the NZ advanced three-day championships at Taupo in 2011.

He first came to the UK to compete at the London Olympic test event and for three years competed in both the UK and NZ – he last competed in the UK at Hartpury in 2013.

“I’m feeling pretty confident,” said Johnstone, who arrived in the UK in late March with the horse. “Balmoral Sensation is fit and well, so that’s a good start after the big couple of months he has had.”

Balmoral Sensation is a grey 12-year-old New Zealand sport horse, by the Dutch-bred jumping sire Senator VDL – a son of Corland. He is out of a mare by the thoroughbred sire Aberlou (sire of many top event horses including Delta, Messiah, Aberjack, and Lily the Pink). He was bred show jumping personality David Goodin, who still competes at the age of 80. Sensation is an accomplished showjumper, having competed up to 1.50m grand prix in NZ. He was previously ridden by Donna Smith who produced him to three-star – winning four of their eight international starts.

Balmoral Sensation is owned by the Johnstone family.

Jesse Campbell and Kaapachino helped the New Zealand team to third at Boekelo, also securing Rio 2016 qualification.
Jesse Campbell and Kaapachino © Hanna Broms

Jesse Campbell – Kaapachino

Badminton will be a special event for Jesse Campbell and his former racehorse Kaapachino. They were to start at the prestigious event last year, but an infection in the horse saw a change in plan and they instead made their 4* début at Luhmuhlen, where they finished a very creditable 16th.

“With hindsight I think it was a good thing we missed Badminton (last year) as it gave us more time to prepare for Luhmuhlen,” Campbell said.

“After that he won the CIC3* at Millstreet in Ireland and we were also on the Nations Cup team that represented New Zealand at Boekelo that ensured team qualification for the Rio Olympics.”

Campbell, 26, can’t wait to fulfill a long-held dream.

“Kaapy is a brilliant horse cross-country and has all the credentials to tackle those famous fences. We’ve had a good build-up … and riding at Badminton has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember.”

In 2009 Campbell was invited to the UK to train with Mark Todd and in 2010 awarded a Prime Ministers Scholarship to travel to Sweden to train with Lisen and Pedar Fredrickson. For the next 18 months Jesse worked under Andrew Nicholson then established his own yard close by.

In 2013 he was a member of the NZ Nations Cup team and in 2014 competed at the Swedish international eventing grand prix.

Kaapachino is a 13-year-old ‘off the track’ New Zealand thoroughbred by Kaapstad (by  Sir Tristram). He was bought in New Zealand as a six-year-old. The combination won the U25CCI2* at Tattersalls in 2011 and in 2015 the CIC3* at Millstreet and completed their first four-star at Luhmuhlen.

Kaapachino is owned by Jesse and Dr Craig Campbell.

New Zealand's Dan Jocelyn was second on Beaucatcher in the CIC2*.
Dan Jocelyn and Beaucatcher. © Radka Preislerova

Dan Jocelyn – Beaucatcher

It is the first Badminton and first four-star for Beaucatcher, who is owned by Dan Jocelyn and his partner, Tanya Cleverly,, who was third at Badminton in 1993 with Watkins.

Australian born Jocelyn, 45, last competed at Badminton in 2010. He and Cleverly run a livery and training yard near Newbury.

Jocelyn is known for his partnership with his 2002 WEG horse Silence, on whom he was selected for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, before withdrawing because of injury.

Beaucatcher is a 10-year-old British-bred thoroughbred. He is by Prospector John out of a mare by Last Tycoon, acquired by Dan and Tanya as a four-year-old. Last year daughter Jaz also competed Beaucatcher in Pony Club competitions. Badminton is the first four-star for Beaucatcher.

Lucy Jackson (NZL) and Bosun II moved up from 37th to 13th after the cross-country.
Lucy Jackson and Bosun II. © Mike Bain

Lucy Jackson – Bosun

British-born Jackson, 38, is based near Banbury in Oxfordshire and is a member of the NZ High Performance Programme. In 2014 she represented New Zealand as an individual at the WEG in Caen with Willy Do.

Jackson was a former member of British Junior and Young Rider Squads and in 1993, aged 15, was the Schools National Champion. She spent seven years (2002-2009) in New Zealand working as a sport physiotherapist along-side eventing. She was long-listed for the 2008 Olympic Games, and on her return to the UK she set up her own yard in Oxfordshire.

Bosun is making his Badminton debut this year. The 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding is by the grand prix jumper Cruising from a mare by the thoroughbred Good Thyne. Bosun is owned by the BGV Syndicate.

Megan Heath and St Daniel.
Megan Heath and St Daniel. © Mike Bain

Megan Heath – St Daniel

Marlborough-based Heath, who works full-time in the banking sector, competed at Badminton in 2013 and 2014 with St Daniel.

Heath moved to the UK in 2005 to further her banking career. She formerly kept a jumping horse with fellow Kiwi Grant Wilson in Belgium, commuting at weekends to compete for fun, but temporarily gave up riding altogether eight years ago because of work. She started eventing six years ago and in 2012 with St Daniel she was 15th at Lumuhlen four-star and was awarded the HSBC training bursary for the highest placed four-star debut. In 2013 the pair completed their first Badminton.

St Daniel is owned by Heath, who acquired him from German Olympic gold medallist Peter Thomsen in 2010. St Daniel, a 15-year-old German-bred Hanoverian gelding, is by the British-bred thoroughbred sire Star Regent, and out of Donnice, by Der Clou. He is a full brother to Shamwari, 20th at the 2012 Olympic Games and 10th at the 2013 Europeans with Ludwig Svennerstal and now with US rider Boyd Martin.

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