Piggy French Wins First Badminton Title
Tuesday, May 7, 2019
In a dramatic finale to this year’s Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, Piggy French wrested the sport’s most coveted title from the grasp of long-time favourite Oliver Townend in dramatic style.
In the pressure cauldron of Badminton’s main arena, Piggy, so often the bridesmaid at the highest level and lying second overnight on Vanir Kamira, jumped a superb clear aboard Trevor Dickens’ mare to turn the tables on the overnight leader when he used up his quota of lives.
Oliver, the winner in 2009 on Flint Curtis, could afford one rail down and three time penalties with Ballaghmor Class, but when a late rail fell and the clock stopped four seconds over the optimum, the 2009 winner was left shaking his head in disbelief as he realised his chances had been dashed.
This was Piggy’s 25th attempt at winning an event at the highest (five star) level and she was visibly emotional as she realised she had finally laid claim to a crown of her own.
“I’m still numb and find it hard to communicate in words what I’m feeling,” she admitted. “I’ve got so used to congratulating everyone else that I can’t quite believe it. And to be fair to Oliver – he’s very hard to get in front of.”
Asked whether she had dreamt of this moment, Piggy said: “When I woke up this morning I thought I might have a chance, but when I walked the course I thought I’d have no chance. I thought it was one of the most difficult showjumping tracks I’ve ridden and although Vanir Kamira is a real trier she’s not naturally talented in this phase. She’s better on a twisty course rather than having to deal with too many related distances.”