Paul Tapner (AUS) was clearly overjoyed as he came through the finish line at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (GBR) on his second ride, Inonothing. His celebrations were more than justified as, after an enthralling and dramatic Cross Country day, he found himself in the lead at a 4-star event for the first time.
The track at Badminton, the second leg of the HSBC FEI Classics™, proved as enigmatic as ever, taking its fair share of high-profile scalps, including all the top five riders after Dressage.
“I was aware that there were quite a lot faults occurring,” said British-based Tapner, 34, who was equal 11th after Dressage. “But after I’d ridden my first horse (Stormhill Michael, 12th) I had a roast lunch and then a sleep in the lorry and tried to forget about it. Inonothing is a unique horse to ride across country; he’s so small and nippy.”
If Tapner wins tomorrow, he will be the third Australian rider to do so in the last four years, following Andrew Hoy (2006) and Lucinda Fredericks (2007).
Tapner was confident about his chances in the final Jumping phase, but only one fence covers the top four riders. Mary King (GBR) is only 2.3 penalties in arrears on Imperial Cavalier, having shown all her experience to survive a few erratic jumps after the pair were held on course while a fence was rebuilt.
“I was a bit distracted and wasn’t completely on the ball,” admitted King, 48, who still achieved a fast time despite being forced to take the long route at fence 14, the influential sequence of flower boxes at the Countryside Complex. “But I was thrilled with the way the horse came home. He felt fabulous.”
Simone Dietermann (GER) made a spectacular Badminton debut and is now in third place on Free Easy NRW and in line to win the HSBC Training Bursary worth $1,000. “My horse is a good jumper and always fast,” she explained. “The first 10 fences weren’t that great because he was fighting me, but then he settled and was fantastic.”
James Robinson (GBR), who is having his eighth Badminton start on the 17-year-old Comanche, is in fourth place.
In deference to the heavy overnight rain, the Ground Jury decided to remove the second two fences in the Quarry (5 and 6), so that riders had to take the long route, plus the second of the angled logs at the Rolex Turn (30).
It was immediately apparent that time would be an influential factor, and it was first-timer Sian Wynne-Morris (GBR) on Just Appeal who was the first to achieve the optimum of 11 minutes 36 seconds – she has moved up 50 places to 31st as a result. Sam Watson (IRL), up 44 places to 8th on Horseware Bushman, was the only other to do so.
The Badminton track proved as difficult to predict as ever, taking its fair share of high-profile scalps. William Fox-Pitt, in overnight sixth on Sea Cookie, withdrew and Robinson and Andreas Dibowski (GER), now fifth on his Pau (FRA) runner-up Euroridings Butts Leon, are the only riders from the top 10 after Dressage still in the running.
Kai Rüder (GER), the overnight leader, was going brilliantly on Le Prince des Bois when he stopped in front of the log on top of the Outlander Bank (fence 18); Ruth Edge, second, was desperately unlucky when Two Thyme landed steeply over the HSBC Hexagon Hedge (fence 17), an angled brush over a ditch, and stumbled, pitching her over his head.
European Champion Kristina Cook (GBR), third on Miner’s Frolic, managed to smile and bow to the crowd after getting soaked in the Lake (12) and Neil Spratt (NZL), fourth on Upleadon, was one of 10 riders to fault at the brush corner in Huntsman’s Close (9). Frances Whittington, fifth on Sir Percival lll, got the furthest before tipping off the Alterian Staircase (24).
“I’m not the greatest fan of cold water, but humiliation kept me warm!” said Cook resignedly. “I didn’t get the greatest shot into the water and then my horse left a leg. It was frustrating, but that’s Badminton.”
William Fox-Pitt (GBR) on Macchiato, Lucy Wiegersma (GBR) on Woodfalls Inigo Jones, Clayton Fredericks (AUS) on The Frog, Mary King (GBR) on Kings Temptress, Zara Phillips (GBR) on Glenbuck and Andrew Nicholson (NZL) on Avebury were among those to fall foul of the pair of open corners at the HS1 Farmyard (15), where Alex Hua Tian (CHN) fell on his first ride, Jeans, and broke the frangible pin. This was the most influential fence, with 11 riders faulting here.
Desert Island, ridden by Louisa Lockwood (GBR) and owned by Donald Birts, was put down following a fall at fence 9, the corner at Huntsmans Close. A detailed investigation is taking place.
81 started the Cross Country
41 clear rounds
2 inside the optimum time of 11 minutes 36 seconds
15 eliminations and 9 retirements
- 1 Paul Tapner/Inonothing (AUS) 44.5 + 0.4 = 44.9
- 2 Mary King/Imperial Cavalier (GBR) 44.8 + 2.4 = 47.2
- 3 Simone Dietermann/Free Easy NRW (GER) 45.0 + 3.2 = 48.2
- 4 James Robinson/Comanche (GBR) 43.5 + 4.8 = 48.3
- 5 Andreas Dibowski/Euroridings Butts Leon (GER) 43.5 + 6 = 49.5
- 6 Daisy Berkeley/Spring Along (GBR) 48.0 + 2.4 = 50.4
- 7 Caroline Powell/Lenamore (NZL) 50.2 + 1.2 = 51.4
- 8 Sam Watson/Horseware Bushman (IRL) + 52.5 + 0 = 52.5
- 9 Carolyne Ryan-Bell/Rathmoyle King (GBR) 47.0 + 6 = 53.0
- 10 Bill Levett/Hippolyte (AUS) 44.5 + 8.8 = 53.3
Full results on www.badminton-horse.co.uk
HSBC FEI Classics™ Standings (after 1 of 5 events)
1 William Fox-Pitt (GBR) 15 points
2 Phillip Dutton (USA) 12
3 Becky Holder (USA) 10
4 Boyd Martin (USA) 8
5 Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch (CAN) 6
6 Karen O’Connor (USA) 4
7 Selina O’Hanlon/Colombo (CAN) 3
8 Hawley Bennett-Awad (CAN) 2
9 Michelle Mueller (CAN) 1
HSBC FEI Classics™ Calendar of Events in 2010
1. 21-25 April - Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event (USA)
2. 30 April - 03 May - Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (GBR)
3. 17-20 June - Luhmühlen CCI**** presented by E.ON Avacon (GER)
4. 2-5 September - Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (GBR)
5. 4-7 November- Les Etoiles de Pau (FRA)
HSBC will contribute US$ 1million to the series over the next three years. Prize-money is awarded, as follows, to the top five riders on the leaderboard after the fifth and final event:
WINNERS OF THE 2009 SEASON
1. Oliver Townend (GBR) - US$ 150,000 (Series champion);
2. Dirk Schrade (GER) - US$ 75,000;
3. Andreas Dibowski - (GER) US$ 50,000;
4. William Fox-Pitt (GBR) - US$ 33,000;
5. Sam Griffiths (AUS) - US$ 25,000
Caption: Paul Tapner (AUS) and Inonothing galloped into the lead at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, the second leg of the HSBC FEI Classics™, after picking up just 0.4 of a penalty in the Cross-Country (Photograph: Kate Houghton).
Audio interviews with the top three after Cross Country – Paul Tapner, Mary King and Simone Dieterman, can be accessed here: