Badminton main arena via @NickChubb
ESJ reported this morning that our sport’s largest event, the Badminton Horse Trials has been canceled due to the ground being, as Badminton organizers described, “totally waterlogged and partially flooded” from recent torrential rains. The bad weather is expected to continue this week so the decision was announced to cancel the event Monday morning. Horse and Hound reports that the last time Badminton was cancelled due to bad weather was in 1987. The event was also canceled due to weather in 1975 and 1966, and in 1963 the event was turned into a one-day.
The news has understandably shocked the equestrian world. As of 9:00am ET the Badminton website is still crashed and some major UK media outlets are carrying the story including the BBC. Bloomberg has even published the news. (Update: Now Yahoo!)
Badminton-bound US rider Colleen Rutledge has been blogging about the incredible rain in Great Britain here on EN and there were rumors at Rolex that the event might be in jeopardy, but the possibility of Badminton actually being canceled seemed like such a long shot–canceling Badminton due to rain is like canceling an endurance race in the middle east due to dryness. But if you look at the pictures (here, here, here for example) you can see that the organizers had absolutely no choice.
The news itself–Badminton was canceled because it is flooded–is pretty cut and dry, pardon the pun. The implications are anything but, and there are more questions than answers at this point. Horses and riders were just one or two days away from shipping out to Badminton and now their entire spring has been disrupted. Needless to say, the fact that this is an Olympic year makes things even more complicated. A few major questions:
1) What happens to William Fox-Pitt’s quest for the Rolex Grand Slam? Winning the grand slam requires winning Badminton, Burghley, and Rolex in any consecutive order [USEF]. With $350,000 on the line, the answer of whether or not William can try again at Badminton next year or go try at Burghley or try at another competition is going to depend on how the Grand Slam contract is structured. Typically companies that host challenging contests with large payouts will buy insurance to cover the potential for having to pay, and my bet is that an insurance company would be less than forgiving when it comes to missing out on a chance to win $350,000 of their money, but that is complete speculation. Samantha tweeted earlier this morning “Discussed briefly the poss of Badminton cancellation w/ Rolex yesterday, it MUST be 3 different comps for the Grand Slam to be legitimate.”
Update: Pippa Cuckson writes for the Telegraph that it is likely the Rolex Grand Slam will roll to Burghley and that Rolex is expected to make an announcement later today. [Telegraph]
2) What do Colleen Rutledge and Shiraz do? Colleen has flown all the way to England to compete at Badminton and now she is left in the rain with a very talented horse and a refunded Badminton entry check. Colleen’s blog this morning summed things up–“AAAAUUUUGGG!!!! Lots more words, but none of them printable. Now, to figure out plan B.”
3) What do all of the pairs previously entered at Badminton do? The same weather that canceled Badminton is going to lead to numerous other event cancellations in England. The Saumur CCI***, May 17th to 20th in France, looks like the most likely backup plan at this point but Saumur can only host so many entries. Luhmuhlen is the only remaining CCI4* before the end of June. There are quite a few CCI3*’s over the next two months, but not a ton close to England. The aforementioned Saumur, Tattersalls in Ireland (end of May), and Bramham in England (mid June) look like the best options at this point and I expect events to add divisions to accommodate the badminton refugees.
4) What does this mean for the Olympics? It is important to remember that many of the top confirmed Olympics pairs were not planning on competing at Badminton. For one thing, it means that everyone who got around Rolex has the advantage over the Badminton hopefuls in that they have successfully completed a tough 4* this year. North America also appears to have a very strong remaining CCI3* regional calendar with Jersey Fresh and Bromont over the next 6 weeks.
Stay tuned for much more Badminton fallout as it develops.