British star Oliver Townend hit out after being drawn first to go at Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials for the fourth time in six years. But the organisers defended the rider draw process for world eventing’s biggest four-star competition.
Townend, who won Badminton in 2009, believes organisers should look at operating a public draw.
He posted a solid dressage score of 46.2 penalties in glorious early morning sunshine aboard the 17-year-old Armada. But speaking immediately after his test, he said: “The draw is beyond a joke. To say it’s a draw is nothing but an insult to everybody’s intelligence. I have been number one too many times, now. Give someone else a go.
“There is absolutely no question of a doubt it (the draw) should be done in public, and why not make it a public spectacle.
“We are at the biggest event in the world, and it would just be another exciting part of it, wouldn’t it?”
The number one position is seen by some as being a disadvantage in gaining a low dressage score, and certainly when compared with scores that are often posted on day two.
“The draw is done in a dead straight way,” Badminton press officer Julian Seaman replied .
“Oliver always enters two horses, and there is only a pool of about six riders who do so, so the odds of him being number one are fairly high.
“It is a coincidence he’s been first a few times, but there is nothing untoward in it at all. Unlike an FA Cup draw, the draw for Badminton would not be a public spectacle, however it was done.”
Meanwhile, German master Michael Jung took charge of the event on day one, postng a dressage score of 34.4 penalties with his London 2012 Olympic gold medal-winning ride La Biosthetique-Sam.
If Jung wins Badminton, he will land the Rolex Grand Slam of eventing – a £240,000 prize awarded for any rider winning consecutive Burghley, Kentucky and Badminton titles. It has only been achieved once before, by Britain’s Pippa Funnell.