All Pass With No Overnight Withdrawals at Badminton Final Horse Inspection

Overnight runners-up Austin O’Connor and Colorado Blue demonstrate the general mood of the morning at a soggy final horse inspection. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

After the close of competition yesterday, which saw thirty horses complete after battling the holding ground, we were all pretty unified in one sentiment: this morning’s horse inspection would be an interesting one. How many would withdraw overnight? How many would be sent to the holding box? In a passing chat with one of the commentary team, I put my bets on our numbers going down by three; he said he reckoned five.

British-based Kiwi Hollie Swain (28th) wrangles a very fresh Solo up the trot strip. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

As it turned out, we were both wildly wrong, which is something I never begrudge when it comes to something like sound horses. All thirty of yesterday’s finishers materialised in front of Badminton House this morning, and all thirty were deemed fit and ready to compete by the ground jury of Angela Tucker, Xavier Le Sauce, and Andrew Bennie — and even better, several of those thirty still looked as though they could tackle another batch of solid fences, particularly fiery Solo, who spent most of the trot-up alternatively trying to canter down the strip or send poor Hollie Swain crowd-surfing.

Charlotte Holifield takes the top groom’s prize. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Treehouse Sporting Goods was on hand at the inspection to award a prize for the groom of the week, who was deemed to have taken the most robust care of the horse or horses in their charge throughout the course of the competition. The prize went the way of Charlotte Holifield, longtime groom for Oliver Townend’s Ballaghmor Class.

Gemma Stevens and Jalapeno, sixth overnight. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Now, we head into the showjumping finale, which will begin at 11.30 a.m. (6.30 a.m. EST) with the ten riders placed between 30th and 20th. The top twenty will jump at 2.55 p.m. (9.55 a.m. EST) — and although we saw all our competitors looking fresh and well this morning, there’s still plenty of potential for movement: the rain has kicked back into gear today, which will turn yesterday’s holding, sticky ground into the kind of bog that’ll be particularly tricky for horses to jump out of on the final day. There are some extraordinary margins to play with, which riders will be glad of — particularly overnight leader Ros Canter, who’ll head into the ring with Lordships Graffalo with a healthy nine penalties in hand over Austin O’Connor and Colorado Blue. That’s two rails and two seconds over the time to play with — which could open up further if the riders before her struggle in the conditions. Third placed Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class sits 12.2 penalties off the lead, giving Ros three rails in hand over them, and from top spot to tenth place is a margin of 24.7, or six rails and a time penalty.

The top ten going into showjumping at Badminton.

Badminton Horse Trials: [Website] [Entries] [Schedule] [Live Stream – Badminton TV] [Radio Badminton] [Tickets] [EN’s Coverage]

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