April 20, 2011 - The Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials runners list has closed, with 17 horses from the waiting list having been offered a chance to compete. Horses from the waiting list replaced those who withdrew from the accepted entries until 6pm last night, which was the cut-off point.
The last horse to get in from the waiting list was British-based Swede Dag Albert's 2008 Olympic ride, Tubber Rebel. Seventeen is a notably small number of horses to get in from the waiting list — last year 31 horses were accepted with 43 in 2009 and 38 in 2008.
The fact Badminton is so early this year may have contributed to the small number; when Badminton is later in the season, horses might have more runs in the build-up and consequently more chances to get injured in competition.
In addition, riders are more inclined to run at Badminton in a year where the championship is a continental games (such as the European Championships for the European nations) rather than an Olympics or World Equestrian Games (WEG) — considered the more important championships. With entry to Badminton being free, in an Olympic or WEG year riders are more likely to enter Badminton "just in case" and then withdraw.
The chance to get an early qualification for the 2012 Olympics in the bag is an extra attraction to running at Badminton this time.
Change To The Pathfinder
Oliver Townend (pictured) yesterday withdrew three of his four entries — Carousel Quest, ODT Master Rose and ODT Sonas Rovatio. With his only runner, Ashdale Cruise Master, near the end of the draw, he is no longer the pathfinder. This position now falls to Andrew Nicholson.
Change To The Pathfinder
All that is needed to make the runners list final is for the riders with more than two horses still entered to declare which they will compete. There is no exact cut-off point for this — the schedule simply states that the riders can only bring two horses to the event (riders will arrive today or tomorrow morning) and present two at the first horse inspection (tomorrow afternoon).
Andrew still has Avebury, Nereo and Armada entered, but told H&H at Burnham Market on the weekend that the former two are his first choice. Barring the unexpected, Rosemary Barlow's grey Avebury will therefore be the pathfinder.
William Fox-Pitt has declared his hand; from his original five entries, his chosen horses are world silver medallist Cool Mountain and Pau runner-up Seacookie.
Apart from Andrew, the other riders who still have more than two horses officially in the mix are Mary King and Mark Todd.
But Mark stated on his website earlier this week that NZB Grass Valley would leave to start his journey to Kentucky yesterday. Assuming that went as planned, his Badminton rides will be Major Milestone and NZB Land Vision.
And in a recent interview, Mary said her rides will be Apache Sauce and Imperial Cavalier, meaning Kings Temptress is the one who will be left on the sidelines this time.