The final top three at Badminton this afternoon came from Great Britain, Germany and New Zealand and William brings the Armada trophy home to England for the first time since Oliver Townend won it in 2009.
William also wins the Butler Bowl for Best British Rider, and his long, longstanding head girl Jackie Potts wins the Mark Holliday Memorial Trophy for being the winner’s groom. Germany has yet to win but Ingrid Klimke has been second here before, on her first visit in 2006 on Sleep Late.
Clear rounds were a precious commodity on this final day at Badminton – there were only ten jumping clears all day, six of them within the time. The pressure built as we got closer and closer to the top and we saw the leaderboard shuffled constantly.
After Ingrid’s flawless clear William admitted the pressure was on but he and Chilli Morning rose to the occasion with a supreme clear round, the only scary moment when they rattled the penultimate upright rails. The crowd erupted on his completion, and after that the title was Andrew Nicholson’s to lose.
William mused later that it was hard to be behind Andrew Nicholson from the beginning as he rarely makes a mistake, and there was a stunned, collective intake of breath and then brief, rather unsporting but uncontainable applause when Andrew completely buried Nereo at the second fence and gave William the win. Rattled, the third came down too and then another and they eventually finished in sixth place.
William, unbelievably, has only won Badminton once before on Tamarillo in 2004, “It really makes you realise how hard it is, how many things have to go right, how well the horse has to go…It was my lucky day – Chilli jumped brilliantly”
William shared that it was Mary King who encouraged William to try Chilli one day when they were both jumping with Yogi, telling him the horse was really too big for her, “How lucky have I been since that day?! He came to me and joined my team in 2012 and has gone from strength to strength. He’s been a fantastic horse to work with, he’s got a brilliant brain, every day he wants to work.”
It wouldn’t be the William Fox-Pitt we know so well though if he didn’t immediately pass the credit on to others too, this time Nick Gauntlett, “He’s done a brilliant job producing him all those years, and in fact Grand Manouevre is here too, and he had two of his own here so there’s a lot to be said for that.”
As well as sharing the win with his family, it was lovely to see them all here looking so gorgeous and happy, he also said the win belonged to Team GB coach Yogi Breisner, “I”m so pleased for Yogi that it went well today, he really deserves this and he’s put a huge amount of time and effort into getting me and Chilli to where we’ve got to.”
Chilli Morning will now have a holiday, and indeed William and Yogi have decided together that this will be his last competition of the year, and without wanting to be presumptuous they are looking ahead to Rio next year, “He’s fifteen years old, he’s proved himself on every angle now and he’s obviously got a great chance of being selected for Rio if he holds his form. I’d like to think that we’ll bring him out next year, do some CICs and see if we’re still good enough.”
Ingrid Klimke and Horseware Hale Bob have been foot perfect all weekend and Ingrid was quick to show her appreciation for her horse, “I am so pleased, so proud, because in all three phases he really gave his best, he gave me a really good ride” (and vice versa I’d venture!) but even more so for her Team Coach Chris Bartle for always believing in the horse, “I am more thankful to the man in the red German Team jacket – he’s the one who always believed in Hale Bob and now he’s here.”
After this weekend I think Horseware Hale Bob will have a legion of believers and of course Ingrid’s talent has never been in question. Ingrid had mentioned after her dressage that Chris Bartle is behind the fairly recent German rash of entries at Badminton and you can consider her converted, “From the start to the endI really had the feeling that my horse was very full of himself, we were lucky with the ground and the weather for sure but I think the course designer did a wonderful job, and I only can persuade everybody that you HAVE to come to Badminton!” Ingrid Klimke also won the Silver Jubilee Plate for the highest placed Owner/Rider.
Jock Paget brought Clifton Lush here after a long layoff due to an injury at Burghley in 2013 and Lush’s preparation consisted of “lots of hacking at home on the hills, one intermediate and one advanced horse trial”.
Nonetheless his and his owner’s faith in him was rewarded as the horse tried his heart out all weekend, “I’ve had a good feeling about him this week but that doesn’t make you confident that something good’s going to happen. I just took one phase at a time and I feel that he gave his absolute maximum in each phase, I’m very happy with my final result.”
Gabriel Silva Cury takes home the Worshipful Company of Saddlers Saddle for the rider under 25 with the best score. Trained by Sir Mark Todd and on his former ride Grass Valley Gabriel only switched from show-jumping to eventing fairly recently but rode beautifully all weekend.
Ben Way and Galley Light were very popular winners of the Laurence Rook Trophy awarded to the best British rider who’s never previously completed Badminton and Joseph Murphy and Sportsfield Othello take home the Glentrool Trophy for being the horse and rider who’ve made the greatest improvement on their dressage placing – they rose from equal 70th on the first day to eventual 25th.
Pippa Funnell and Redesigned received the Frank Weldon Memorial Trophy for the rider of the youngest British owned and ridden horse in the top 12, and Charlotte Agnew and Out of Africa Two were the best local riders and so won the Cotswold Life Trophy.
Tim Price and Ringwood Sky Boy were closest to the optimum time and so take home the William Miflin Memorial Trophy for the second year running, and Sam Griffiths and Paulank Brockagh are awarded another £500 stud voucher for being the highest placed British owned mare again.
Armada dishes for five completions were awarded to Sam Griffiths, Paul Tapner, Pascal Leroy, Nick Gauntlett and Bill Levett, and the Farrier’s Prize went to Cormac Mckay who shoes Clare Abbott’s EuroPrince. Final results are here.
A huge congratulations to all the riders, grooms and connections, and a massive thank you to the volunteers, our fabulous photographer Nico Morgan, the fantastically helpful crew here in the media tent, and indeed everyone who helped make this weekend so special. More pictures to come later, and thank you for reading.
Go William Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning, and Go the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials!