Well it’s not often that just 12 horses in from the start, we know who will be the leader at the end of cross country day at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.
Most Badmintons of recent times have been won by combinations riding at the end of the draw not the beginning. There is however another phase to go so the competition is not over yet and the leader Andrew Nicholson and Nereo will undoubtedly have to jump clear in tomorrow’s show jumping phase in order to stake their claim to the Mitsubishi Motors trophy as it is extremely unlikely they will have a fence in hand.
And let’s not forget the final horse inspection before those left in the competition get to the main arena.
Leading from dressage to finish however is not new. Pippa Funnell did just that to win her first Badminton in 2002 with Supreme Rock. She repeated the feat in 2003 with Supreme Rock and again in 2005 with Primmore’s Pride. Andrew Hoy and Moonfleet led from the front to win in 2006 and in 2007 Lucinda Fredericks and her great Jumbo mare led from start. And she is the last person to lead from the first phase and win from the front.
Perhaps the cross country was then made more influential?
But Badminton is not just about the top 10; while knowing who the leader will be does admittedly rather detract from the excitement of the competition there is still much to cheer and keep us armchair riders on the edge of our seats. It was however sad to see two riders rounds and all the hard work to get here, thwarted by their airjackets going off during heroic and successful efforts to save themselves from falls.
First timer Niklas Bschorer, was clearly disappointed not to be able to carry on, having had the stuffing literally knocked out of him after managing to save himself on the top of the step coming out of the lake. But he is only at the beginning of his equestrian career and undoubtedly he will be back having already made an impression on the international eventing stage.
British rider Michael Owen did try to ignore his inflated jacket but it proved impossible and it looked as if the distraction and the mistake that caused it also knocked the confidence of The Highland King.
Let’s hope we see them at Burghley later in the year.
Now looking forward to seeing just who will be chasing Andrew Nicholson for that trophy this afternoon