All 84 horses that presented at the first horse inspection this afternoon were accepted here at the Badminton Horse Trials. Only Italian Marco Biasia’s Tatchou was sent to the holding box and later accepted upon reinspection. The weather for the jog turned out to be just lovely, with temperatures in the 60s and plenty of sun shining. I don’t have an exact count on the crowd, but I’d wager that there were more than 500 people watching the first horse inspection. This is truly an all-star field, and I really looked hard for a horse that stood above the rest. But there are so many that look fantastic — not to mention that have plenty of experience and top placings in four-stars — that I can really say it’s anyone’s game at this point.
William Fox-Pitt and Parklane Hawk
Even though my pick to win Rolex — William Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning — didn’t pan out, I’m going to throw a hail mary and make another pick for Badminton. After watching the jog and taking past results into account, I’m picking Andrew Nicholson and Aveburyto take the win and seal the deal on the Rolex Grand Slam. Andrew Nicholson’s Nereo — his team bronze medal partner in London — also looked lovely and even drew applause from the crowd, so we of course can’t rule him out. William Fox-Pitt’s Oslo and Parklane Hawk also looked in fine form, and I didn’t notice William’s broken finger wrapped in any way, nor did he seem to be favoring it. And don’t think I’ve forgotten about Michael Jung. Of course, La Biosthetique Sam FBW is the horse to beat, but I also thought Michael’s second mount Leopin FST looked incredible. Then again, Michael could probably take a carousel horse around and make it look good.
Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW
For the North American contingent, Universe trotted up beautifully for Clark Montgomery and looks in fantastic form. Shiraz also looked brilliant for Colleen Rutledge, and trotted down the jog lane without fanfare. Canadian Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master looked great in the jog, with Rupert sporting a maple leaf clipped into his hindquarters. Tiana Coudray and Ringwood Magister put on a bit of a show as one of the last to trot up when Finn pranced down the jog lane and caught the attention of the crowd. I could really say lovely things about each of the horses that jogged today, but I’m going to let the pictures do the talking instead. All four of the North American horses ride dressage on Saturday, but I’ll be looking to catch up with them for interviews tomorrow.
Tiana Coudray and Ringwood Magister
As far as others to watch, both of Mary King’s horses — her London team silver-medal winning parter Imperial Cavalier and Kings Temptress — looked very fresh and ready to go. Jock Paget’s mounts Clifton Lush and Clifton Promise also looked fantastic. While more people will be watching Kristina Cook and Miners Frolic, I thought her second horse De Novo News really looked stunning. Lucy Jackson’s Willy Do dragged her down the jog lane, looking very keen. And I have to give a shoutout to Ludwig Svennerstal of Sweden, who stole the show by jogging up with Alexander in a full tuxedo complete with bow tie. All the dressage action kicks off tomorrow morning at 9:40 a.m. local time with the test ride, and Oliver Townend and Armada ride their test at 10 a.m.