Badminton 2011 : The Oscars

By: Horse Deals

Badminton 2011 : The Oscars
Badminton 2011 : The Oscars

Badminton 2011 : The Oscars

This year’s Badminton will go into the history books as among the most exciting after one of the best international fields ever put on quite a spectacle. At a time when eventing greats are out to show selectors they’ve got what it takes for London 2012, it seemed that Badminton had been chosen as their showpiece.

Dressage queens and Rule Britannia

Gone are the days when Brits were considered more suited to jumping and the hunting field than the dressage arena. In his commentary, Carl Hester repeatedly remarked on the "huge improvement" in our event riders, pointing out that 50% of the top 15 were Brits.

Thrills and spills

On the eve of cross-country day, there were mutterings that Badminton 2011 would be a dressage competition. This was based on the notion that the course was more straightforward than usual and the ground would be fast. How wrong they were…

Four of the top 10 after dressage were eliminated or retired in the final third of the course. The Quarry claimed Ruth Edge and Oliver Townend among its victims and very nearly brought disaster for eventual winner Mark Todd too.

The Oscars

Fashion in the trot-up

Winner: Emily Llewellyn: eventing’s golden girl didn’t have the ride of her life across country on Pardon Me, but she left the boys weak at the knees in the trot-up.

Runner-up: Mary King: despite losing her heel mid-trot, she managed to keep her trademark smile.

Most appealing dressage

Winner: Nicola Wilson (Opposition Buzz): this formidable partnership had Carl Hester in raptures at their level of improvement. Opposition Buzz is renowned for his rubber ball jumping ability, but the dressage has been his Achilles heel. Nicola adopted a new warm-up procedure that lasted only 2min and they scored their best result ever. 

Runner-up: Ruth Edge (Two Thyme): Ruth was a deserved leader after the first phase. As well as scoring nines from all three judges for riding, she proved that Thoroughbreds can hold their own against warmbloods in the dressage phase.Most striking horse

Winner: Prada (Lucinda Fredericks): this neat little mare is German-bred from dressage lines and is the whole package. The Cheryl Cole of event horses, she the X-factor in all three phases. Described by Lucinda as a "Ferrari", she could well fill the shoes of Headley Britannia after winding up 16th at her first four-star.

Runner-up: Calma Shelley (Marina Kohncke): this 17hh Holsteiner by the show jumping stallion Chambertin was impressive throughout. A tiny rub of the final show-jump not only dropped them from second to eighth but also cost Marina a whopping £39,000 in prize-money.

Most stirring cross-country round

Winner: Lenamore (Caroline Powell): the 18-year-old 2010 Burghley winner stole our hearts again as he galloped through the finish full of running and within the time. He went on to finish sixth after a clear show jumping round.

Runner-up: Opposition Buzz (Nicola Wilson): this talented pair are poetry in motion and Nicola’s cross-country seat and partnership with the horse is awe-inspiring. (NB: she has spent more time on the hunting field than most young riders).

Best recovery 

Winner: Mark Todd (NZB Land Vision): last-drawn Mark kept the huge crowds in Badminton Park until the final minutes. Just three jumps from home, where both Oliver Townend and Ruth Edge had already come to grief, Land Vision quite literally scrambled over the log out of the Quarry, but Mark showed his expertise by nursing him home for 6.8 time-penalties — just enough for overall victory.

Runner-up: Aoife Clark (Master Crusoe): Irish rider Aoife made history by delivering the nation’s best ever dressage mark at this level, only to have an unfortunate run-out early on the cross-country course. She put the disappointment behind her and jumped clear next day in the show jumping.

Best first-timer

Winner: Laura Collett (Rayef): Laura, 21, not only led after the first day of dressage but belied her youth and relative inexperience to finish eighth overall on a horse also in his first four-star. The pair jumped a foot-perfect cross-country round and had one unlucky show jumping pole down.

Runner-up: Niklas Lindback (Mister Pooh): this horse is a previous winner at the young horse World Championships in Le Lions D’Angers and Niklas is aiming for a place on Sweden’s European Championship team. They did themselves no harm with fifth spot here.

Biggest rise after dressage

Winner: Harry Meade (Wild Lone): Harry rose from 67th to 23rd and instead of riding the oldest horse at Badminton, this year he partnered one of the youngest. Ten-year-old Wild Lone is by the ISH sire and grade B jumper Donranstown Hallo and produced a fantastic cross-country round.

Runner-up: Lauren Shannon: Lauren, who completed her first Badminton with two rides, finished 17th with a double clear and 4.8 cross-country time-faults on the Carousel mare Quixotic, who now retires to stud.