It was a dramatic morning in the showjumping at the 2019 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials where dropped rails and time penalties saw a shakeup at the top of the leaderboard and no Kiwis on the podium.

Piggy French (GBR) and Vanir Kamira’s clear and inside time in the showjumping opened the door for her to snatch victory from the dominant Oliver Townend (GBR) on Ballaghmor Class. Oliver had a rail in hand and a smidgen of time . . . he used up both to finish on 27.1 penalty points and lose by .3. Chris Burton (AUS) took third and fourth on Cooley Lands and Graf Liberty respectively.

The 70th anniversary of the iconic event saw Andrew Nicholson and 11-year-old Swallow Springs as the best of the Kiwis, in fifth place on 35.8 penalty points. He came into the showjumping in fourth place, but the stunning grey took two rails to finish the day on 35.8.

“He was very babyish on the first bit of the course,” said Andrew, who last won Badminton in 2017. “He only just showed his inexperience a bit and wasn’t really concentrating (early on) but for the second part of the course, he felt very smart, like he can do. He will learn a lot from it.” Overall he was very pleased with Swallow Springs who was “youngish at this level”. The two will now look to Burghley.

Tim Price and Ringwood Sky Boy were the next best for New Zealand – they came into the showjumping in sixth spot, but 12 jump penalties and 1.2 time saw them finish the day on 43.3 in 10th place.

Jesse Campbell and Cleveland notched their first CCI5*-L completion together in 19th place on 55 penalty points after taking three rails this morning.

Virginia Thompson admitted while things didn’t quite go to plan in the showjumping aboard Star Nouveau she was still happy with her mare. “We had quite a few rails down but unfortunately that is horses,” she said. Star Nouveau was tired after her magnificent efforts to come home clear and inside the time on the cross country.

“I don’t think I rode the best round of my life (in the showjumping) either so I didn’t help her as much as I could have. I think it is all a big learning curve. We are really green at this level and will be taking it all on board. Hopefully, we will come back fighting next year. Overall it has been brilliant. My dressage was certainly better than last year, and the cross country was just a stellar performance, so I am just going to keep living that.”

She planned to give the horse a bit of a break before competing at Burghley later in the year.

Equestrian Sports New Zealand eventing high performance manager Graeme Thom heaped praise on Virginia, saying she was now in “a new echelon of riders”. Badminton had challenged riders and today’s showjumping had taken its toll across “a broad spectrum of really high caliber horses and riders”.


The horse details:

Ringwood Sky Boy – owned by Varenna Allen, Robert Taylor and Tim Price
Swallow Springs – owned by Paul and Diana Ridgeon
Cleveland – owned by Kent Gardner and Jesse Campbell
Star Nouveau – owned by Elaine Butterworth, Anthony Quirk and Virginia Thompson

By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Photos by Libby Law/ESNZ