A trio of New Zealand riders are in a handy position going into Sunday’s final phase of the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.
The Kiwi trio of Mark Todd, Jock Paget, and Clarke Johnstone are in fourth, fifth and sixth respectively, with just one jumping rail separating second to 11th place.
While Michael Jung has the lead on La Biosthetique Sam FBW with two rails in hand ahead of fellow German rider Andreas Ostholt with So Is Et, anything can happen in the showjumping.
Todd, a four-time Badminton winner and dual Olympic gold medalist, showed all his experience when surviving a dramatic near unseating from Leonidas ll at the Shogun Hollow (fence 23). The horse twisted over the second curving brush and pitched Todd right out of the saddle, but a combination of long legs and determination got him back in place and the pair galloped on to complete a clear inside the time to move into fourth place.
“It was an amazing ride, but I did have a couple of lives,” admitted Todd, who is aiming for a seventh Olympics.
“The horse is so brave and does tend to over-jump, but it shows that he wants to do the job. He travelled very easily.”
Paget (Clifton Lush) and Johnstone (Balmoral Sensation), are in fifth and sixth places ahead of speedy Frenchman Astier Nicolas on Quickly du Buguet.
The Vicarage Vee claimed New Zealanders Lucy Jackson (Bosun) and Tim Price (Ringwood Sky Boy). But Jonelle Price fared much better and is now in 11th place on Classic Moet.
Blyth Tait and Bear Necessity were clear with 4.8 time penalties after taking a lengthy option to sit on 53.3 in 22nd, while Jesse Campbell and Kaapachino will forever remember their first Badminton and sit on 76.3 – the combination jumped outside the flags at the Vicarage Vee but went on to easily jump the option.
Ten of the starters retired on the course, including Kiwi Dan Jocelyn’s Beaucatcher, while Megan Heath was eliminated mid field on St Daniel.
Mark Todd described the cross-country as “big and bold as ever”.
“Some people said it looked a bit softer this year but I think it probably flowed better … all the questions were there and particularly through the middle part of the course you had to be right on the ball.”
Paget couldn’t be happier with the efforts of Clifton Lush.
“It is his third time round there. I love riding that horse, he just tries his butt off for me every time. Just thrilled with the result,” he said.
“You have to take your hat off to Giuseppe and the fences he has built are brave fences. He did a great job.”
Johnstone was also thrilled. “It was a really big course and causing quite a lot of trouble,” he said. “I am thrilled to have jumped around clear. It’s a big, tough course and relentless through the middle section. We all know that is how it is going to be when we walk the course but when you get out there and ride it you think ‘oh my gosh, when am I going to get a breather’.
“It just keeps coming at you thick and fast and that is hard for the horses as well. It is a really big difficult course.”
Jesse Campbell (30th) said the course called for a lot of trust between horse and rider, with some jumps out into space and others where the horse is unable to see the landing.
“It was really hard work out there. It was really tough … and tough on the horse mentally too.”
Images below © Mike Bain
Results after Cross Country
1 Michael Jung/La Biosthetique Sam FBW (GER) 34.4 + 0 = 34.4 penalties
2 Andreas Ostholt/So Is Et (GER) 38.2 + 5.2 = 43.4
3 Gemma Tattersall/Arctic Soul (GBR) 44.6 + 0 = 44.6
4 Sir Mark Todd/Leonidas ll (NZL) 44.8 + 0 = 44.8
5 Jock Paget/Clifton Lush (NZL) 45.2 + 0 = 45.2
6 Clarke Johnstone/Balmoral Sensation (NZL) 40.8 + 4.8 = 45.6
7 Astier Nicolas/Quickly de Buguet (FRA) 45.9 + 0 = 45.9
8 Oliver Townend/Armada (GBR) 46.2 + 0 = 46.2
9 Izzy Taylor/Allercombe Ellie (GBR) 40.4 + 6 = 46.4
10 Gwendolen Fer/Romantic Love (FRA) 47.1 + 0 = 47.1