It’s Satur-yay! Butts On Seats and Buckle Up – Live Blog from Cross Country Day at MARS Badminton Horse Trials

Please Note: Refresh this page often for the latest updates.

Here we go ENers. It’s cross country day and… the weather’s holding up. All hail the British weather for Badminton weekend. Although, we may be complaining about the heat as the day progresses…

We’re in the thick of the competition now, with two days of dressage behind us and a clubhouse leaderboard to peruse. Here’s how things are shaping up so far at the 75th edition of MARS Badminton Horse Trials:

The clubhouse leaderboard as we head into cross country looks like this:

1️⃣ Leader of the pack after dressage is EquiRatings’ favorite for the win – Great Britain’s Ros Canter with Izilot DHI on a score of 25.5.
2️⃣ 2 points behind, also representing Britain is Thursday’s overnight leader Bubby Upton and Cola on 27.5.
3️⃣ And topping off the podium places after the first phase, for New Zealand, is Tim Price with Vitali on 27.7, just 0.2 behind.
4️⃣ The best of the US, Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF are right up there in 4th – they’re on a score of 29.
5️⃣ Just behind is Britain’s Emily King with Valmy Biats – on 29.2.
6️⃣ Another American sits right on their tails – Tiana Coudray and Cancaras Girl are on 29.8.

The scores are really tight, right the way from the top to the bottom of the table, so every second will really count out on course today.

Click here for the full scoreboard.

Here are the links you need to catch up on all that went down in the dressage:

Dressage Day One:
▶️ [Test-by-test reports]
▶️ [Morning round-up]
▶️ [Afternoon round-up]

Dressage Day Two:

▶️[Test-by-test reports]
▶️ [Morning round-up]
▶️ [Afternoon round-up]

And now we turn out attention to The. Best. Day. Cross country day.

You can follow along with the form as you enjoy all the country action with EN’s epic Form Guide, which you’ll find right here.

While you’re eagerly awaiting the first countdown of the day, check out what the runners and riders will be facing as they thunder along the track, in our course preview here, and if you want to know the riders’ thoughts on this year’s cross country offering, we’ve wrangled them together and given them to you here.

And when you’re done with all that, feast your eyes on all of EN’s Badminton content and mosey on along to our IG account @goeventing.

Sally Spickard will get things going with live updates from the cross country and then Cheg Darlington will take over later – EN’s here throughout the day, so keep this page refreshed, and watch this space! If you’re catching up with this later and are the type to like things in order, scroll ⬇️ and read ⬆️.

It’s here. It’s the best day.
I’m not going to shout-out the superfans in the States today because of course you’ve got up while it’s still dark to follow along – it’s cross country day.
Refresh, refresh, refresh – and go eventing!

EN’s coverage of MARS Badminton Horse Trials is brought to you by Kentucky Performance Products, your go-to source for science-backed nutritional support across all types of horses, disciplines, and needs. Click here to learn more about what KPP can do for your horse — thank you for supporting our wonderful sponsors!

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11:25am ET

And so cross country day draws to a close at the 75th anniversary edition of MARS Badminton Horse Trials. What a fitting celebration of sport it’s been. We’ve had tears and cheers and everything in between. Best of all, we’ve seen true athletes at the top of their game, galloping and jumping and showing the world what a wonderful sport we’re so lucky to be a part of.

The clubhouse leaderboard as we head into the finale looks like this:

1️⃣ Heading the charge and hoping to stay there is Kiwi Tim Price with Vitali on a score of 31.7.
2️⃣ Not a show jump behind is Great Britain’s – William Fox-Pitt and Grafennacht on 33.
3️⃣ And topping off the podium places as things stand is 5* rookie combination, Ireland’s Lucy Latta and RCA Patron Saint on 37.2.

Best of the US is Grace Taylor and Game Changer – they’re in 19th on a score of 54.6.

Click here for the full scoreboard.

Tomorrow we’ll know who will take the Badminton crown. Will there be a scuffle on the scoreboard? Where will your favorites end up? It’s all to play for as the final day beckons.

I’ll be back for every single fence in the finale of the show jumping with live updates as the top 20 take to the ring to wrap up MARS Badminton Horse Trials 2024 – don’t miss it!

We’ll have a full round-up of all of today’s competition for you – Tilly’s pounding the keys as we speak – eyes on EN for that, coming soon.

In the meantime, click here for all the Badminton content you can handle.

Until tomorrow ENers, rest easy, and go eventing.

11:23am ET Pippa squeaks her way through the three angled hedges at 28 and then rattles the white gate at 29. They fly the last combination, and then the second last. She comes into the Main Arena and the crowd are cheering. They clear the last and come through the finish. What a round to wrap up the day’s sport. Such a treat. Maverick looks very pleased with himself, and so he should be. That was a great round from both horse and rider. What a day. What a sport.

11:21am ET Ooo, they land steep after the Vicarage Vee and Pippa’s pitched forward. She looks to lose a stirrup. But she’s back straight away and kicking on.

11:18am ET Tom chooses to do the two uprights at 27 rather than take the maximum spread table. Capels Hollows Drift looks a tad tired, but he’s jumping cleanly. There’s a huge cheer as he comes into the Main Arena and clears the last. Pippa’s the only one out on course now. She’s 10 seconds down at Sustainability Bay and chooses to turn back to the massive tree with roots she didn’t like the look of – but it’s easy for her and they gallop on. They’re clear through the sunken road at 20 – it’s been a real question for a lot of people but Pippa makes it happen and hunts her way through.

11:16am ET Pippa’s at the Lake at 10. She drops in and sees her distance a mile off. She gives us a lesson through there. Tom and Capels Hollow Drift are through the Mound at 26 and are on their way home. Pippa is flying, meanwhile. The dogs are already swimming in the lake now that Pippa’s been through that section of the course! She leaps off the broken bridge at 13 and comes to the tricky combination at 15. She holds her line beautifully. Wow, she’s riding super. What a star she is.

11:13am ET The final pair of the day are being counted down and are on their way! They could go onto the podium if they’re quick and clear.

🇬🇧 Pippa Funnell and MCS Maverick. This gelding made his 5* debut at Pau last season and finished just outside the top-10. He’s a relatively new ride for Pippa, who took over the reins for last season. Since then he’s had nary a XC jumping penalty in 7 FEI runs and on his day, he’s no slouch either. Pippa is a 3-time Badminton winner and winner of the Rolex Grand Slam – she’s always one to watch 👀

We see them clear the first few fences and Maverick looks to be very keen. Caroline’s at the white gate close to the end of the course. She sets up for the two open parallel rails and Cav’s got her ears pricked and looks to have plenty left in the tank. She’s not quick enough to go ahead of Tim Price though. She clears the last and crosses the line 33 seconds over the time.

11:11am ET Caroline’s at the brush-ditch-brush at 15. There’s a bit of fancy footwork but they make their way through no problem. We catch up with Tom Rowland who’s come to a grinding halt at the step down at 26. He turns and canters back up but KND Steel Pulse says no thanks. It’s the end to their day as they’re eliminated. Caroline’s at the water at 17 and decides to take the time to turn before the massive tree at 18. Meanwhile, we have a new starter on course:

🇬🇧 Tom Jackson and Capels Hollow Drift are now out on course. Just one more combination to go after this. This horse stepped up to the level here in 2022 and finished 16th, jumping clear across the country and adding just 10 time penalties. Later that year he was runner-up at Burghley where he added just 3.6 XC time penalties to his score across the entire competition. They came here last year and were 5th, delivering another impressive cross country round. He’s a great jumper – amongst the most reliable in the field according to EquiRatings – and quick. This is one to watch, right here 👀

They’re brilliantly through Huntsman’s at 7 and well on their way.

11:07am ET Alex Bragg is just telling Clare Balding how emotional he was as he crossed the finish line. What a very cool sport this is. Meanwhile, we have this lady out on course – who could go into the lead:

🇳🇿 Caroline Powell and Greenacres Special Cavalier have left the start box. We’re down to our final three to go. This mare was 30th here last year, with 40 XC jumping penalties on her card. There are plenty of clears on there too though, including at Pau in 2022 where she finished 5th, and Maryland last year where she was 6th. Caroline has 16 Badminton completions under her belt and a Burghley win – in 2010 with the late, great Lenamore.

Oh no! Wills and A Class Cooley have parted company. I didn’t quite catch which fence it was sorry. That’s a shame as they were going beautifully. Things just went arwy slightly and Wills was catapulted out the front door. He looked to get straight up, no real damage done, just an end to their competition.

We have another combination on course:

🇬🇧 Tom Rowland and KND Steel Pulse are on track. This gelding made his 5* debut at Pau last year and finished 21st with a clear round on the cross country. Tom has 3 Badminton starts and has 3 completions under his belt – he was 19th last year. He’s a total Badminton fanatic – first visiting the event when he was just 11 months old! (As a spectator, not to ride.) He can name every Badminton winner.

We didn’t see much of the start of his round, and unfortunately we pick him up having trouble at the sunken road at 20. They come back round and continue on towards the Vicarage Vee.

11:03am ET Wills has made his way smoothly through the brush-ditch-brush at 15 and has popped the brush oxer at 16. They’re headed to the water at Sustainability Bay now. They pop down and then decide to turn before the enormous tree with roots at 18 – no problems there for them. He comes to the tricky terrain through the sunken road at 20 and are very bold through there. They tap the rail at 21 and we hear the clip rattle but there’s no problem at all and they continue on to the Vicarage Vee.

10:58am ET We have a new starter on course:

🇬🇧 Wills Oakden and A Class Cooley are with us on course now. We’re into our final five rounds of the day now. ‘Felix’ made his 5* debut at Pau last season but retired after a 20 out on cross country. There’s just one other 20 on his record in 14 FEI competitions and some good form at the 4*’L level with a win at Blair Castle last year and 2nd at Ballindenisk. Will’s got a 12th place here under his belt from last year and was 25th in 2029.

We catch up with them coming into the Lake at 10. He balances on the way in and is positive to the corner. Everything comes up beautifully for them and they’re excellent through there. We’re hearing that Gemma will be contesting the 15 penalties she was given for the flag at the C element of Huntsman’s Close – Fence 7.

10:53am ET Libby Seed comes through the finish line to huge cheers from the crowd. Laura and Hester are at the Lake. The mare has a little look at the water and jumps up high over the first element. Laura’s sitting up and making this combination happen. There’s a huge leap over the middle element – Laura’s back in her stirrups and locking on, and Hester’s responding. She makes the final element happen too and that is cross country riding at it’s best. But oh no! We see them at the combination at 15 and Hester looks right into that massive open ditch at the B element. She stops and Laura puts her hand up. This is a 5* first timer and will have learned a lot from her trip here this week, regardless of it ending early. Unfortunately we haven’t seen much of Alex until he comes through the finish. He’s punching the air and the crowd are cheering. This must have been an excellent round, and it’s really quite quick. He’s gone into 7th.

10:50am ET We haven’t seen much of Libby’s round sorry. We join her now as they come to the Vicarage Vee. There’s elbows and heels going and they fly it. They look to be having a really fun round together. They drop bravely off the Mound at 26 and are galloping toward home.


🇬🇧 Alexander Bragg and Quindiva are underway. ‘Diva’ made her 5* debut here at Badminton last year, but like a few of the competitors at that wet and wild Badminton edition, Alex pulled up on course when he felt like the mare wasn’t enjoying the ground. They came back out at Burghley and came 15th, jumping clear across the country and adding just 14 XC time penalties to their score across the competition. Alex has made 6 starts at Badminton since his debut in 2017.

Alex is through the water at 17. He makes a really tight turn round to 18 – probably the neatest we’ve seen all day. Not much time wasted there.

And so is:

🇬🇧 Laura Collett and Hester. We’re into the two horse riders now. Hester’s a 5* first-timer, although Laura’s no rookie – she won the whole dang thing with London 53 in 2022, one of 3 5* wins on her card. Hester was first produced by Jonelle Price before fellow Badminton competitor Alex Bragg took the reins in 2019. Laura took to the irons for the 2021 season. Since then, she’s added no XC jumping penalties to her record and has proven to have a swift turn of foot too. This pair could very well be ones to watch 👀

They’re at Huntsman’s when we pick them up and it’s beautifully ridden by Laura through there. Really convincing and that’ll give her confidence.

10:45am ET Gemma is growling her way round the track, she’s really riding with determination. We’re hearing news that she has been given the 15 penalties for the flag at Huntsman’s. Chilli Knight is still pulling as they come to the three angled brushes at 28ABC. They come to the white rails and jump that really cleanly and Gemma’s using her voice over the two big open oxers at 30. Just two fences left now. They gallop over the second last, come into the Main Arena and clear the last. Her arm’s in the air, she’s patting her boy. She won’t be aware of the time penalties, and there may well be a review of them. We’ll have to wait for the live scoreboard to be updated, possibly later. Only Caroline Powell and Greenacres Special Cavalier can go ahead of Tim Price now.

10:41am ET I’m sorry, I seem to have missed that Lauren Innes had started. Here’s a look at their form coming into Badminton:

🇳🇿 Lauren Innes and Global Fision M. ‘Flipper’ finished 24th at both Badminton and Burghley last season, jumping clear across the country at both the British 5* offerings. Since 2020, he’s added XC jumping penalties to his card just once. Lauren’s an amateur rider and full-time accountant. Flipper’s her only upper-level horse and spends his days in the field while Lauren’s at work. The pair have two Badminton completions under their belt, and are looking to make it a third here this week.

Also on track:

🇬🇧 Libby Seed and Heartbreaker Star Quality are now out on course. This mare made her 5* debut at Badminton in 2022 and finished 28th. She came back for another go at the level at Pau last year and finished 14th. In 24 FEI runs she’s completed in all but one of them and jumped clear cross country in all but one. Libby’s an amateur eventer with just one horse in her string – in her real life she’s a full-time accounts manager.

Gemma is flying! She’s cleared the ditch and brush at 19. Meanwhile, Lauren’s actually nearing the end of the course. She’s pushing and riding really confidently up to the final few. They fly over the last fence and Lauren pumps her fist – Badminton cross country completed. Great work.

10:40am ET We have a new starter:

🇬🇧 Gemma Stevens and Chilli Knight have got their Badminton cross country underway. This guy made his 5* debut at Pau in 2019 but was withdrawn before the second Horse Inspection. He came back out after/during the Covid hiatus and won the pop-up 5* at Bicton in 2021, where they finished on their dressage. He’s back at 5* for the first time since then. Badminton’s in his blood though, for sure – his sire is the former William Fox-Pitt 5* ride Chilli Morning, who was the first stallion to win a European top-level event when he became Badminton champ in 2015. He’s been clear XC jumping in each of his runs since Pau and had no faults on his card before that – that’s 27 runs without a single jumping penalty. He’s also speedy – amongst the very fastest horses in the field according to EquiRatings – Blink and you’ll miss ‘em! Eyes on this one 👀

We see them at Huntsman’s and they squeak through the flags at the C element. That may be reviewed. Chilli Knight really showed he’s a horse that’s desperate to get through the flags – red on the right… Meanwhile Selina’s had a problem at the Mound at 26. She made it down the A element but then came to a halt at the narrow brush after it.

10:33am ET Selina clears the Lake complex at 10 and then gallops the waterfall fence. They look to be going really well. Helen has a save of the day when Diego leaps off the step at 26. She’s thrown forward but sits up. Unfortunately there’s no way she hasn’t crossed her tracks from the position she ended up in. That’s a shame as they were going really confidently. Meanwhile, Selina’s at Sustainability Bay (17). They make a bold leap down the step into the water and then are very clearly going the long route to 18. They circle, come round and make a very nice jump over the tree. Helen and Diego are nearing home now. They’re quite a bit over the time after those problems at the Mound. They have a great jump over the second last and Diego fights for his head into the last, they get close but they’re over and through the finish – she’s delighted with her horse, who looks very, very pleased with himself as he trots along taking in the claps and cheers that he’s sure are all for him. Helen won’t mind that.

10:29am ET Daragh’s decided to pull up – not his day today. I have a couple of new starters to update you on:

🇬🇧 Helen Bates and Carpe Diem are up and running. ‘Diego’ made his 5* debut at Pau last season, finishing 23rd and adding only XC time to his dressage score. This guy is a cross country jumping machine, with just a couple of unlucky eliminations on his card due to rider tumbles in 22 FEI competitions. He’s just as clean show jumping too. Helen will be seizing the day as she makes her Badminton debut.

We see her through Huntsman’s and Helen does a great job to keep Diego’s shoulder in to clear the C element. They squeak through and gallop down the track.


🇬🇧 Selina Milnes and Gelmer have got their Badminton cross country underway. Gelmer made his 5* debut at Pau last season but was withdrawn before the show jumping. He picked up 20 out on course there, the first XC jumping penalties on his record. Selina’s finished top-25 here and top-10 at Pau.

Gelmer flies the brush at C and gallop towards the meat of the course.

10:26am ET Tim isn’t far off the time. He flies the white gate at 29 – gets the perfect shot – and then he sets up for the wide open rails at the final combination. 20 seconds to get home. He’s careful at the second last and then pushes on. They come into the Main Arena and are into time. They clear the last and stop the clock. Tim punches the air. They’ve gone into the lead! The team are running beside them and there’s a huge cheer from the crowd. Just 4 penalties for them. A superb round.

We have a new starter on course:

🇮🇪 Daragh Byrne and Kilcannon Ramiro are away. This pair made their 5* debut at Pau last season where an unlucky tumble for Daragh means they’re looking for their first completion at the level this week. The form suggests that this is a horse who is well capable of producing a clear round cross country, and he’s no slow poke. But a completion will be what Daragh’s looking for today, so we hope the luck of the Irish is shining on them as they make their Badminton debut.

Unfortunately we see them having a problem at 15, just run past the hedge at the C element. They come back round and continue on.

10:23am ET We’re seeing Holly Richardson being pulled up close to home. It seems that they’ve missed a fence out. That’s really disappointing for them.

10:18am ET Emily’s taking no chances as she comes to the final few fences – she’s being very precise in her presentation to each fence. They’re over the double at 30, they’re close to the time but they’re not going to make it. It turns red as she approaches the second last. She gallops into the Main Arena and clears the Mars M – she’s beaming, so delighted, big pats for Valmy. What a super round – clear with just a few time penalties and slides into 3rd as things stand.

Meanwhile, Vitali’s got his feet wet at Fence 9 and now comes round for the Lake combination. He rattles the palisade but it’s up, they get on their line and are through – a riding lesson from Tim right there. He’s super focused and Vitali is too. They look like they’ve got their eye on the prize. Oh no! Holly and Louis have a problem at the sunken road – a fly past by the looks of it. She comes round and jumps it on the second time of asking.. Tim’s dropping down into the pond at Sustainability Bay (17) and he goes straight towards that tree and are smoothly through – no time wasted there. He chooses to go round the tree to keep straight towards the narrow element into the sunken road complex at 20. They’re perfect through there.

10:12am ET Emily’s really in a great rhythm and riding brilliantly. She soars over the triple bar at 14 and she really rides forward through the brush-ditch-brush combination and it comes up beautifully for them.

She’s joined on course by:

🇬🇧 Holly Richardson and Bally Louis. This pair made their 5* debut at Burghley last year and jumped a super clear round cross country to finish just outside the top-20. The didn’t have a single XC jumping penalty last season.

Emily’s going long between 17 and 18 – the Sustainability Bay complex and the big tree. She circles smoothly and they fly over the log and gallop on. Holly’s at Huntsman’s when we pick her up (7). She takes the flag at the C element but are safely through. Valmy really comes back to Emily at the rails at 21 and jumps it very cleanly. The Vicarage Vee is very easy for this horse – what’s all the fuss about? he says. They trot into the steep drop down at 26, she needed to really because he’s such a bold horse. They gallop on towards the finish.

We have a new starter, who’s very important in terms of the leaderboard – he could go into the lead:

🇳🇿 Tim Price and Vitali are out on track. This talented gelding broke all kinds of records in the dressage arena at Burghley last year, then jumped clear cross country with just 8 time faults to finish 5th. They were 7th here at Badminton, with another cross country clear – in fact there’s just a single 20 on this guy’s record, way back in 2017 at his first FEI event. EquiRatings rank him as the second most reliable cross country jumper in the field and he’s second favorite for the win. He’s swift across the ground too, with time penalties generally kept to single figures. As well as last season’s great form, he had a pretty smart 2022 also, with a top-10 finish at Luhmuhlen and a 3rd place at Burghley. The stats on Tim’s 5* successes could take all year to write, so I’ll summarize: all 7 5*s completed, wins in 4 of them and podiums in two of the others. He’s had 9 Badminton starts and 9 completions. Eyes on this one 👀

10:08am ET We pick back up with Jesse as he flies towards the finish. They’re at the second last and are just into time penalties. The horse is really digging deep but Jesse’s riding very sympathetically and has taken his foot right off the gas. They’re not very high over the last, but they’re over and through the finish clear. Meanwhile, Valmy’s got his feet wet at 9 – the log into the lake. They come round to the palisade into the lake proper and he leaves his back legs on it but it doesn’t come down. They clear the wide corner in the water and he doesn’t seem to lock onto the C element, but Emily guides him through.

10:03am ET There’s a new rider on course for the States:

🇺🇲 Alexandra Knowles and Morswood are away. ‘Ginge’ has 3 5* completions under his cinch, with a top-20 place at Pau last season, where he jumped clear cross country, and a top-10 at Maryland in 2022. The pair have made the trip across the Pond to make their Badminton debut here this week.

Unfortunately, they have a very early end to their round though. They don’t make the jump over the corner coming out of Huntsman’s Close (7), it comes down and Allie’s popped out of the tack. Her and Morswood are up and fine, but very frustrating for them.

There’s another new starter:

🇬🇧 Emily King and Valmy Biats have left the start box. This pair put themselves on EquiRatings’ radar as being in with a shot here this week after retaining their Grantham Cup title at Thoresby last month – they’re third favorite for the win. They were 25th at Badminton last year, activating a frangible device on cross country for 11 penalties, and 24th at Luhmuhlen, where they had a 20. But don’t underestimate this truly talented pairing – they do have unlucky blips on their record, but there’s no doubt that their time at the top of the level is a matter of when, not if.

They’re confidently through the quarry and Emily looks to really mean business.

10am ET Gubby’s been so quick up to the water at 17 that he’s really got the luxury of turning a circle before that tree at 18. Meanwhile, Harry and HD Bronze rattle the top rail of the white gate at 29 but it stays up. Gubby’s had a problem at the Vicarage Vee. The horse is backing off a mile away and leaps sideways over the ditch past the fence – Gubby does a great job staying on. They go the long route but oh no! Royal Harvest stops at the top of the step down at 26. That’s a real surprise and shame when their round was looking so confident earlier on. Meanwhile, we have a new starter on course:

🇳🇿 Jesse Campbell and Cooley Lafitte have got their Badminton cross country underway. This gelding made his 5* debut at Pau last season but an uncharacteristic mistake on the cross country means he’s looking for his first completion. He’s a cross country machine usually, with just one 20 on his record in 18 FEI competitions. He’s quick to boot, mostly keeping any time penalties to single figures. Jesse’s got two Badminton completions under his belt, with a top-20 finish here in 2019.

Meanwhile, Harry Mutch and HD Bronze have completed clear. Jesse’s come through Sustainability Bay (17) the best we’ve seen all day – straight through, awesome.

9:56am ET We have another new starter on course:

🇬🇧 Gubby Leach and Royal Harvest have left the start box. It’s a first 5* for Royal Harvest, who seems like a real sweetheart of a horse – Gubby says he’d trust the gelding to give his kids pony rides. Gubby’s back at the level after a bit of a hiatus but has two Burghley completions under his belt. At the 4* level, this horse can be very quick, with 4 finishes on his dressage score on his record. According to EquiRatings he’s amongst the fastest horses in the field. Blink and you’ll miss ‘em!

Meanwhile, Grace and Game Changer have crossed the finish line for the US and gone into 10th. They’ve had a great round, so positive and forward thinking, real cross country riding. Gubby is at the Lake (10) and decides to take the longer route but there’s not much time wasted, and this is a really fast horse. Harry is just at Sustainability Bay – Fence 17. He looks like he’s going for the straight route, but then doesn’t. He circles round and clears it no problem. We’re not sure he presented at the fence, he certainly didn’t yell ‘long’ like a lot of the earlier riders were doing. We’ll have to wait and see what the judges thought of that. He makes his way to the Mound and HD Bronze is very brave at the step down – he just canters off the end. They’re on their way home now.

9:53am ET Grace is really working hard but it having a great round – they’re safely through the sunken road at 20. Meanwhile we have a new starter:

🇬🇧 Harry Mutch and HD Bronze are now out on course. This pair completed on their debut at the level here in 2019 and are back for the first time since then. Since Harry took on the ride in 2015, they’ve been placed at every level bar 5*. They completed at the pop-up 5* at Bicton in 2021 and have had two Burghley starts since then, but are looking for everything to come together for them here today to add second 5* completion to their record.

We pick them up at the Lake and this is a big horse for Harry to navigate through those distances but it actually comes up nicely for them. He stands off the waterfall fence at 11 and they gallop on down the track. Ooo, there’s a little dog making a bit of a play as Grace makes her way homeward, but all’s well. She’s over the white gate at 29 and she’s almost at the finish flags.

9:48am ET The next US rider has got their Badminton cross country underway:

🇺🇲 Grace Taylor and Game Changer are underway. This pair made their 5* debut at Burghley last season and jumped clear cross country but withdrew before the show jumping. There’s a whole host of XC clear form on their card and eventing is truly in Grace’s genes – her mom represented the US at the 1988 Olympics and was later team selector and chef d’equipe for USEF and her dad represented Britain at the European and World Championships. Grace is treading in their footsteps as she makes her Badminton debut – both her mom and dad competed here, plus a number of other family members – as she’s just explained to Claire Balding in her interview.

She sets out very positively, looking very confident. We pick them up at the Lake at 10. They get a great shot in, really bold, and they pick up that corner at B straight away, Grace kicks on and makes it all happen – super cross country riding. Oooo! Game Changer makes a huge leap over the open ditch in the middle of the combination at 15! Grace sits back, turns for the angled hedge at C and they cat leap that too. They come to the water at 17AB and they drop down into the water then Grace chooses to go right round the back of the rooted tree at 18 to circle back round to it – no penalties there, the fence is separately numbered, just quite a bit of time taken.

9:43am We have a new starter on course:

🇬🇧 Felicity Collins and RHS Contend OR have left the start box. They made their Badminton debut in 2022 and jumped clear across the country to finish just outside the top-20. They came back last year but an unfortunate tumble out on course meant their competition ended early. There are plenty of XC clears on their record and this is a fast combination, generally keeping time penalties to single figures.

We pick them up at Huntsman’s Close (7) and they demolish the C element – the whole fence is clipped from different sides/angles/you name it. Everyone’s fine, it just looked dramatic seeing a cross country fence collapse, but it does seem as though she’s decided to call it a day.

9:35am ET We’ve just had a look at current leader Ros Canter in the warm up as she prepares to start her round. Meanwhile, Lucy’s all the way to the Vicarage Vee and appears to be having a great first Badminton, and first 5*! They’re flying round this super challenging track. They make very light work of the Mound at 26 and are on their way home.

The overnight leader is starting her round:

🇬🇧 Rosalind Canter and Izilot DHI are with us on course now. The reigning champ and World No. 2 is here to defend her crown, this time with quirky Izilot DHI, who came out at his first 5* last season at Pau and smashed it out of the park for the win. Last season he had three wins, a second and a 4th on his card, and he’s come out this year in similar form. He’s proved he can jump clear without question around the top level, and he’s got the speed to match his jumping ability. This is an exciting one for sure – EquiRatings have them down as favorites for the win – eyes on 👀

Ros gets off to a really confident start with ‘Isaac’. He looks settled and keen to get on with his job. We pick them up at Fence 4 – the Quarry – and they make this early combination look very easy. Meanwhile, Lucy Latta – 5* debutant – has finished just 1 second over the time! A rookie combination shows us all how it’s done! What a superb performance from both horse and rider. Good for them. She gives her horse a huge pat. What a day for her! Congratulations coming in from her whole team. Meanwhile, Ros and Isaac are coming towards the Lake at 10. Isaac spooks at another fence as he gallops along the side of the lake, but Ros pushes him on. Oh no! The first part of the combination comes down – it’s a deforming fence – he saw the water at the last second and drops his back legs on it and down it comes. And then they have a run past as the B element – he spooked at the fence decoration and it took his eye off the fence. They come back round but it’s a green jump, and Ros circles round to finish up with a confidence building jump before putting her hand up. The reigning champion and overnight leader is out.

9:31am ET Luc and Viens du Mont come through the finish and look like they’d have been close to the time if it wasn’t for the problem at the Mound. We catch up with Francis at a real moment at the water at 17. Prince was tricky down the big step in but Francis takes the short route to that big tree with roots at 18. It doesn’t come off for him. Prince climbs all over it, slides off the side really, and stops. Francis puts his hand up.

🇮🇪 Lucy Latta and RCA Patron Saint have joined us on course. Lucy’s a one-horse rider and the pair are making their 5* debut here at Badminton. She’s got top-level competition in her blood though – her granddad competed at Badminton and Burghley and her cousin has completed Badminton four times. Another cousin, Robert Powell, won the English Grand National in 2007. They’re on a streak of 8 XC jumping clears and are pretty speedy. They’re a combination to watch for an exciting future, that’s for sure.

9:25am ET We have another new starter:

🇬🇧 Francis Whittington and DHI Purple Rain have got their Badminton cross country underway. This gorgeous horse was super impressive here last year when he ate up the track in the tough conditions, jumping clear and finishing just outside the top-20. He’s got such an extravagant action you’d be forgiven for thinking the heavy going would have taken it out of him, but ‘Prince’ truly rose to the challenge and shone. He was 19th at Burghley later in the season with another clear XC jumping round, in fact, he has just one 20 on his record in 26 FEI competitions.

Meanwhile, Luc is through the sunken road at 20 and galloping on. Francis and ‘Prince’ are at Huntsman’s Close (7). Francis holds the gelding together really well between the oxer and the first corner but then, ah! Prince doesn’t look where he’s going and they sail past the second corner. That’s a 20 for them. He’s now at the Lake at 10. They drop in and weave their way through – no problems for them there. We pick Luc back up as he has a 20 at the Mound at 26. They’re hesitant off the big step and then miss the narrow tree stump. That’s real disappointing for them, but they come round and make their way through and continue towards home.

9:21am ET We’ve just got Jonelle out on course for a minute. They’re coming towards Fence 31 with time penalties clocking up. They come into the Main Arena and jump the last. There’s time penalties for them – 10.8.

We have a new starter on course:

🇫🇷 Luc Château and Viens du Mont are underway. This gelding made his 5* debut at Pau in 2022, jumped ‘round clear inside the time and came 9th; he came here last year and truly proved his mettle in the tough conditions, finishing just outside the top-10. Burghley wasn’t such a happy hunting ground for them last fall, but that was a blip on an otherwise faultless XC record. This is a proven clear and quick combination – eyes on this one 👀

We pick up Luc at the Lake at Fence 10. They pop in and Luc really drives Viens towards the second element, but then he doesn’t have the stride he wants to C, they’re over and take the flag with them – that’ll be reviewed. On the subject of flags, Jonelle has been given 15 penalties according to the live scoreboard.

9:15am ET Jonelle’s at the combination at 15 and make it look easy. Grappa Nera has a very good look down the step at the Sustainability Bay at 17, but she drops into the water and… take the straight route. Go Jonelle! It’s a tiny bit sticky, but they’re through and on with their round.

🇬🇧 Richard Jones and Alfies Clover are up and running. Fan favorite Alfies Clover is back at Badminton for a 5th time. Richard opted to retire out on course last year due to the tricky ground conditions, in one of the displays of expert horsemanship we saw that day. He was 10th here in 2022 and 7th at Burghley. This is a very reliable XC clear horse and can be relatively speedy. They’ll be a popular combination to cross the finish line – all being well – today.

Arthur and Church’ile are nearing the end of their round, they jump the combination at 30 but then there’s a red flag in front of them. Arthur’s not best pleased, they were very close to the end, but he’s been stopped and that’s the end of their competition. Meanwhile, we have trouble at the Lake (10) for Richard and Alfies Clover. They jump in OK but then Richard seems to take a non-traditional route to the B element and it doesn’t come up for him. They run past and Richard’s hand goes up. A shame for this 5* stalwart horse.

9:12am ET And another combination’s joined us on course:

🇳🇿 Jonelle Price and Grappa Nera are away. This mare made her 5* debut at Kentucky in 2021 and jumped clear with 7.6 time penalties, finishing up in 28th spot. She went to Pau the following season and won, adding just 1.2 time across the country. After sitting out most of last season, she’s back for a Badminton debut. Not so much Jonelle, who’s made 8 starts here over the last two decades, taking the title with another mare, Classic Moet, in 2018. We know Jonelle’s one quick lady across the country, and Grappa Nera’s well-suited to her rider’s speedy ways – this has the potential to be a really exciting round. Blink and you’ll miss ‘em!

We join them at Huntsman’s Close (7), Jonelle goes for the six strides through there and it comes up beautifully for them. Class riding – of course. Oh no, meanwhile Arthur’s had problems at the sunken road at 20. He comes around and weaves his way around the long route in a particularly long fashion. They continue on though and clear the rails at 21. Jonelle’s at the Lake. They’re really confident through there. Jonelle’s needing to slow Grappa Nera down – she’s so bold. Arthur’s now through the mound at 26 and is nearing the end of his round now.

9:07pm ET We have a new starter:

🇫🇷 Arthur Marx and Church’ile are out on track. This family homebred is by the same sire as William Fox-Pitt’s Badminton ride, and last year’s winner Lordships Graffalo. Arthur’s dad rode the gelding’s dam and grand-dam. They made their Badminton debut last year but an unfortunate parting of company out on cross country means they’re looking for their first completion. They were just outside the top-20 at Pau in 2022 at the gelding’s first 5*. This is a speedy pair for sure – blink and you’ll miss ‘em!

We see them go through Huntsman’s Close at 7 and it’s absolutely textbook from horse and rider. They come up to the Lake at 10 and get a good shot in, albeit tapping the top of the wall. No problems for them and Arthur punches the air as they gallop away from that tricky combination. Meanwhile, Louise and Native Spirit are coming to the end of their round. They clear the last. They’ve got 40 jumping penalties and 42.8 time.

9:04am ET Nicky and Bingo Boy rattle the clips on the big open rails at 30AB, but they stay up and they gallop on towards home. They fly the final two and cross the finish line – 9.2 time penalties for them and into 4th on the clubhouse leaderboard. Louise and Native Spirit are carrying that 20 but they look to really be together as they come through the sunken road at 20 – lovely preparation came good across the question. She growls as they fly the Vicarage Vee at 24/25 and they continue on to the Mound, which they drop down well, but then, ah! Native Spirit gallops off and they sail past the skinny at B.

9am ET Hello ENers! Harry and Away Cruising are cruising home now. They gallop into the Main Arena and over the Mars M – they’re 51 seconds over the time. What a horse this is. And he didn’t cross his tracks – so clear jumping for them. Meanwhile Nicky has flown the Vicarage Vee and moves onto that big step down. Louise and Native Spirit go the longer route at the Lake, but have a glance off the the skinny brush at C. She’d lost both her stirrups. But they’re back together now and continue on their way.

8:55 a.m. ET: I’m going to hand things off to my fellow eventing nerd, Cheg Darlington, who will bring us home with the live blog! Thanks for following along with me.

8:55 a.m. ET: Oh no! Away Cruising just gets a little bit stuck, leaving a leg at that tricky raised rail coming down the Lightsource bp Mound and Harry might have crossed his tracks getting to the long route. What a huge bummer after such a great round.

8:53 a.m. ET: Nicky has chosen to go long from the get go at the Huntsmans Close, which does add quite a few seconds but was likely the best choice for MGH Bingo Boy. Harry Meade is going to be another one close to the time if he can stay clear. He’s at the Birch Rails.

8:53 a.m. ET: 🇬🇧 Louise Harwood and Native Spirit will be next to us on course. Louise has 7 Badminton completions under her belt as she comes forward with Native Spirit for the gelding’s third 5* start, looking for his first completion.

Harry has gone straight with Away Cruising at the MARS Sustainability Bay and it pays off in the best way of the three to take this route so far. Beautifully ridden.

8:52 a.m. ET: Very good riding so far on this Badminton track, which is certainly exerting its influence but hasn’t caused me to clutch my non-existent pearls to this point. Here’s hoping the rest of the day continues as such.

8:51 a.m. ET: Harry Meade and Away Cruising are clear through the MARS Badminton Lake.

🇬🇧 Nicky Hill and MGH Bingo Boy have left the start box. This pair were 18th here in 2019 and 20th at Burghley last year, where they jumped clear XC and added 21.6 time penalties. They started at Badminton in 2022 but were carrying a 20 on their card and withdrew after XC.

8:49 a.m. ET: There is just something spectacular about watching a horse dig deep late on course. Copper Beach switches his tail as he clears the final combination and digs in for Cosby — what a horse, man. You’ll remember this horse also went 5* many years ago with Buck Davidson, and now he’s home clear again with about 97 seconds of time.

8:48 a.m. ET: Tiana Coudray shares the story of finding Cancaras Girl on a Facebook post in Scotland. She liked the mare’s breeding but she wasn’t the fanciest horse — Tiana thought she’d make a nice junior horse, so she bought her to sell. “We had really no big expectations of her. Started producing her and she never had a huge result to make her worth big, big money so we just kept going and she just kept climbing the grades,” she said, noting she began to have some “phenomenal” results once she stepped up to 4*. “I always rated her, but we thought this is actually a really good horse. Everything is a work in progress, and her heart and her brain has got her here and — she’s a Badminton horse now, I can’t believe it!”

Cosby and Copper Beach are still strong at the Worcester Avenue Brushes close to home at question 28.

🇬🇧 Harry Meade and Away Cruising, his sole ride left after withdrawing his other two rides, are underway. This stalwart 5* campaigner was 16th here last year and has 7 5* completions under his cinch. It was the shock of the day when he had a glance-off at Burghley last year, the only 20 on his card since way back in 2017 – in fact, in 36 FEI runs he has just three XC jumping penalties and one missed flag on his record. Because of all that, he’s amongst the most reliable cross country jumpers in the field according to EquiRatings. He’s not going to be the fastest horse today, but boy is he dependable, and if you’re looking to watch real pros in action, these guys are your guys. Harry’s got 12 Badminton completions under his belt, with 6 top-20 finishes.

8:45 a.m. ET: Cosby and Copper Beach almost looked like they thought about going direct at MARS Sustainability Bay, but she opts for the long route. She’s prioritizing getting home clear as she’s well down on the time here. Kristina Hall-Jackson and CMS Google have quite a scary moment as CMS Google his the first corner and bounces out of the fallen rails. Kristina then tried to go the final corner and pops off to the left unfortunately. That will be the end of the their day — they’re both looking no worse for the wear. Georgia Bartlett has finished with Spano de Nazca.

8:43 a.m. ET: 🇬🇧 Kristina Hall-Jackson and CMS Google have got their Badminton cross country underway. Officially the best Christmas present ever, ‘Google’ was 29th here last year and 21st at Burghley. The mare’s had green mistakes out on cross country in each of her three 5* runs thus far, but there’s been potential to spare on show and that clear jumping round will come out soon for sure, hopefully today.

8:41 a.m. ET: Helen Martin is working to get Andreas home safely, and he jumps the last well to collect about a minute and a half over time, plus that aggravating 20. Spano de Nazca and Georgia have a hairy moment at the Vicarage Vee that made my heart stop, but they still clear it well.

We haven’t seen her yet, but 🇺🇲 Cosby Green and Copper Beach are with us on course now and clear through fence 12. Cosby made the trip from the US to the UK with three of her horses last year to be based with fellow Badminton competitors Tim and Jonelle Price, making her 5* debut at Pau and finishing 16th. Copper Beach is a former Buck Davidson ride, with whom he was top-10 at Kentucky in 2018. In 17 FEI starts with Cosby, the gelding’s had XC jumping penalties just twice.

8:40 a.m. ET: 🇬🇧 Helen Martin and Andreas are just showing on our screen now. This combination made their 5* debut here last year but an unfortunate tumble out on course means they’re looking for their first completion. This is a local horse and rider – when the wind’s blowing the right direction ‘Alfie’ can smell the Badminton turf. On his day, Alfie’s reasonably quick and has some solid XC clear jumping form behind him. He’s one of the older horses in the field at 18, but he sure doesn’t show any sign of slowing down as he’s reached the pinnacle of the sport.

They have a glance-off at the C element of the Lightsource bp Mound but are clear on the next attempt.

We’re also joined by 🇬🇧 Georgia Bartlett and Spano de Nazcaout on track. This combination made their debut at the level here at Badminton last season but withdrew out on course after a couple of green problems. That’s the only blip on their otherwise clear XC jumping record. They’re a speedy pair too, with time penalties, when there are any, almost always kept to single figures. Blink and you’ll miss ‘em.

8:38 a.m. ET: “I was trying very hard. She’s an amazing mare. She’s just fabulous. She always says yes. [The long route] was my choice. I absolutely knew she was very unlikely to make the time. All the way around I thought she was going so well, I thought you know what this might be my last Badminton, it would be annoying to finish with a hiccup.” — William Fox-Pitt at the finish.

8:36 a.m. ET: Tiana Coudray is still working on a stellar clear and while Cancaras Girl will be well into time — this would likely be according to Tiana’s plan to make this first experience as positive as she can — she is looking very fresh and fit coming home.

8:35 a.m. ET: I’m not crying, you’re crying.

8:33 a.m. ET: Tiana rebalances Cancaras Girl ahead of the Sunken Road and navigates this very neatly. This is a strong round for a first Badminton for this incredible mare.

8:31 a.m. ET: William’s going to be SO close as he enters the main arena. Rosie just picks up 6 seconds of time to put this pair on a 33 overnight. This could be in or very close to the lead based on how the day has gone. What. A. Ride. Please don’t leave us William.

8:30 a.m. ET: Graffenacht navigates the Worcester Avenue Brushes and the The Sound Gates. She and William have about a minute to get home and should be fairly close to the time. Tiana clears the Le Mieux Brushes very nicely.

8:28 a.m. ET: Will is home and celebrates in well-deserved fashion with about a minute of time penalties. William allows Graffenacht to find her way through the Lightsource bp Mound at fence 26. Nearly home now for this pair.

8:26 a.m. ET: William smoothly opts for the long route at the MARS Sustainability Bay, making sure to give his horse as simple of an approach in that energy-sapping circle back to the log. Will Rawling gives Ballycoog Breaker Boy some encouragement as they come toward the final handful of fences. Tiana is clear through fence 8, the Pedigree Kennel. Graffenacht is very catty at the Birch Rails and sails over the righthanded side.

8:26 a.m. ET: William schools us all through the Le Mieux Eyelash Brushes, giving “Rosie” a wonderful ride as he now heads to MARS Sustainability Bay as the next big question.

8:24 a.m. ET: William is riding economically, taking a tighter line in that Badminton Lake combination. Graffenacht should be capable of getting close to the time and this would put this pair into very good standing if they can manage the rest of the way.

🇺🇲 Tiana Coudray and Cancaras Girl are away. This mare made her 5* debut at Burghley last year but was eliminated on the cross country after Tiana’s air jacket went off during a mishap – and save of the day – early on course. She tried to continue but have you tried breathing in one of those things once it’s inflated?! Fingers crossed everything stays intact for them here today. Before Burghley, Tiana’s last appearance at the level was here in 2014 when she finished 25th.

8:22 a.m. ET: Will Rawlin and Ballycoog Breaker Boy are crawl over the brush at the Le Mieux Eyelashes but are somehow clear. And yes, it looks like Florian was pulled up and subsequently advised not to continue. I think Will’s airvest actually went off at that brush debacle; this is why a lot of these top riders choose not to wear airvests as they are a bit prone to setting off with a defensive distance or a sketchy one. William is clear at the MARS Badminton Lake.

8:20 a.m. ET: Florian Ganneval has been pulled up. They might be working on the Rolex Grand Slam Rails that Wabbit had down, which is the next fence ahead of Florian. The hold, depending on length, may be beneficial for Blue Bird de Beaufour, who was looking slightly tired at the Sunken Road. The challenge of a hold is that the horse could switch off.

[Correction] We incorrectly stated that Florian might have been pulled up due to tiredness; this was not correct as it was judged he had actually not jumped the Vicarage Vee and thus was eliminated.

🇬🇧 William Fox-Pitt and Grafennacht are now out on course. This tough mare has a 2nd place at Maryland 5* under her girth and was 14th here last year when she really proved her mettle in tricky conditions. I could try and list William’s 5* form here but it’ll take us to next year’s event so suffice to say, this legend has won 5 of the 7 5*s and has 34 Badminton completions under his belt.

8:17 a.m. ET: Florian Ganneval and Blue Bird de Beaufour navigate the MARS Badminton Lake safely.

“He lived up to his name! He was incredible,” Sarah Ennis says at the finish. “He is a special cross country horse. He’s one of those typically Irish horses…as they learn and progress, they do more and more and more. They do take time to make, when he was 11 we almost gave up with him…he was amazing at Boekelo, so he obviously wanted to do it. He just can’t gallop fast enough, he just wants to go faster and faster. He’s 80 percent blood out of a Thoroughbred dam.” — Sarah Ennis says.

Jessie Phoenix finishes with 54 seconds of time and that unfortunate 11 penalties.

🇬🇧 Will Rawlin and Ballycoog Breaker Boy have left the start box. It’s a 5* debut for this gelding but there’s plenty of clear round form on his card at the lower levels – in fact, there’s 22 XC jumping clears on there. He can be quick on his day too – amongst the quickest in the field according to EquiRatings – blink and you’ll miss ‘em! Will finished just outside the top-20 at Luhmuhlen last season on his debut at the level.

8:15 a.m. ET: Wabbit says I SEE IT MOM as they sweep through the Sunken Road and now the Birch Rails. What a jump this Thoroughbred has. Jessie rides very boldly to the Vicarage Vee after having the setup Rolex Grand Slam Rails go awry with the pin dropped for 11 penalties.

8:14 a.m. ET: Sarah and Jackson get into time penalties, but not far — she collects just 9 seconds which is an absolute stellar round. This should put Sarah into great stead ahead of Sunday on a score of 40.0, especially considering the hefty time penalties we’ve seen accrued to this point.

8:13 a.m. ET: Sarah Ennis is getting close to home and is absolutely FULL of running with a little under a minute to get home. She’s going to be the closest to the optimum time of 11:19.

8:12 a.m. ET: Jessie chooses a slight left-to-right swoop to the corner in the water at the MARS Badminton Lake and takes the right hand flag at the C but looks to be inside them.

🇫🇷 Florian Ganneval and Blue Bird De Beaufour are underway. Amateur rider and full-time farrier, Florian’s here at Badminton for the first time. This pair had a successful 5* season last year, with a 26th place at Luhmuhlen and 17th at Pau, jumping clear across the country on both occasions. In 22 FEI starts, Blue Bird has just one non-completion on his card and one 11 penalties for activating a frangible device – other than that it’s clear all the way.

8:11 a.m. ET: Sarah and Jackson have a lovely jump over the Vicarage Vee and are also clear at the Lightsource bp Mound at 26. This is looking very quick.

8:09 a.m. ET: Sarah also takes the long route at the MARS Sustainability Bay. She’s looking to be the quickest so far with Grantstown Jackson. Jessie and Wabbit are clear through Huntsmans Close and the Pedigree Kennel at 8.

8:08 a.m. ET: Jessie, Wabbit, and his adorable ears are clear at the HorseQuest Quarry Feeders (4AB).

8:07 a.m. ET: Hats off to the grounds crew as they got that corner at Huntsmans Close rebuilt with lightning speed. Sarah Ennis has no trouble here.

Let’s go Canada! 🇨🇦 Jessica Phoenix and Wabbit are now hopping their way ‘round the Badminton track. This full Thoroughbred is as speedy across the country as you’d expect him to be, and with three 5* XC clear rounds under his cinch, he’s got plenty of top-level experience to stand him in good stead as he makes his Badminton debut – he was 19th at Kentucky last year, and 11th at Burghley. There are 19 clear XC rounds on his record – will he make it 20 today?

8:06 a.m. ET: Ah man, Huberthus also says no at the Vicarage Vee after coming under a strong ride to the Rolex Grand Slam Rails just before, and now Bill has put his hand up. Sarah Ennis is clear at the Bloomfields Brush Buckets at fence 6 with Grantstown Jackson.

8:04 a.m. ET: I’m quite surprised at how much trouble the A element of the Ineos Grenadier Sunken Road has caused as it now prompts a runout from Huberthus AC and Bill Levett. It is a very skinny element, but I guess I just wouldn’t have anticipated the issues we’ve seen there. Here’s a look at the fence:

Photo via CrossCountryApp.

8:03 a.m. ET: Our next starters will be 🇮🇪 Sarah Ennis and Grantstown Jackson. This guy made his 5* debut at Pau last year and finished just outside the top-20 after picking up a 20 out on cross country. It’s the only XC jumping penalty on his record since 2022 though, and he can be pretty swift on his day – the third fastest horse in the field according to EquiRatings. Blink and you’ll miss ‘em! Sarah’s got three Badminton completions under her belt and has represented Ireland at Olympic, World and European level.

Gaspard and Kan-Do 2 now take the MIM-clipped A of the MARS Badminton Lake, and he’s now made the smart decision to call it a day as the course only gets tougher from here.

8:01 a.m. ET: Woof, Gaspard and Kan-Do 2 absolutely demolish the D element of the Huntsmans Close — I think we might see a hold at the start while the fence crew rebuilds the fence. The horse and rider are fine, though they may get penalized for missing the flag there. Bill Levett and Huberthus AC take the long route at the MARS Sustainability Bay. Rosie Bradley-Hole is elated at the finish as Romantic collects 46 seconds of time with a stellar and scrappy clear round. What a GENUINE horse this one is, I love it.

8:00 a.m. ET: Rosie and Romatic are clear through the Worcester Avenue Brushes (28) and are working on getting home clear.

7:58 a.m. ET: To my eye everyone seems to be choosing the righthand side of the Agria Silver Birch Rails, which again is set a big farther back from the crest of the incline. Bill Levett has a huge jump over the Lightsource bp Log with Huberthus AC. He then leaves a stride out going out of the MARS Badminton Lake complex but the clever footwork serves this pair well here.

🇫🇷 Gaspard Maksud and Kan-Do 2 have left the start box. Kan-do 2 is one of the smallest horses in the field at 15.2 and at 10, he’s also one of the youngest. The gelding made his 5* debut alongside Gaspard at the end of last season at Pau where they jumped clear cross country but added 11 penalties for activating a frangible device, finishing 28th. This is a rider with all the flair of the French and with just one 20 on his XC jumping record, Kan-do 2 will hopefully be showing he can do this whole Badminton thang.

7:56 a.m. ET: Rosie gives Romatic a ton of verbal praise as they get through the LeMieux Eyelash Brushes clear. This hasn’t caused much trouble but it’s still a very demanding/distracting line. Rosie calls out for the long route at MARS Sustainability Bay.

7:55 a.m. ET: Romantic really responds well to the striding at the MARS Badminton Lake for Rosie. A really confident and bold ride for this pair so far. Bill Levett is out of the box and clear through fence 5.

7:53 a.m. ET: 🇦🇺 William Levett and Huberthus AC will be our next to see. Bill brought ‘Bart’ to Badminton last year but wasn’t sure about the conditions at that particularly wet and wild edition of the event for the horse’s 5* debut. He retired after a 20 out on cross country and re-routed to Luhmuhlen where they were eliminated out on course. He’s come out this season and put in three clear XC jumping rounds. Bill thinks a lot of this horse and it’ll be cool to see him put in the 5* round that Bill knows is in him – fingers crossed.

Rosie Bradley-Hole and Romantic navigated the Huntsmans Close well and are well on their way to the tougher portions of the track.

7:49 a.m. ET: Georgie and Feloupe are home about a minute, 20 seconds over time. Alice Casburn and Topspin have had a stop at the Lightsource bp Log at fence 9, just before the Badminton Lake question. Alice has now opted to retire after jumping in to school the fence. Meghan O’Donoghue unfortunately looks to have fallen from Palm Crescent at fence 20, the same place where Boyd had trouble. What a BUMMER. Palmer just dropped a shoulder a bit and pitched Meghan over the right side and she nearly hung on but gravity took its toll. She looks totally fine, but what a devastating finish for this incredible pair.

7:49 a.m. ET: 🇬🇧 Rosie Bradley-Hole and Romantic will be our next to see. Rosie completed on her Badminton debut in 2022 and comes back to the estate this year with 5* first-timer Romantic. There’s just one 20 on this mare’s record in 12 FEI finishes.

7:48 a.m. ET: Georgie is carrying 15 on her card at fence 17, the MARS Sustainability Bay. Meghan O’Donogue takes the long route at the same question.

7:46 a.m. ET: “Palmer” stands way off the massive corner in the MARS Badminton Lake but this scrappy pair makes it work and continue on to the “4*-Short” part of the course. Alice Casburn and Topspin leave a bit of a leg at the A element of the Quarry but are upright and get away with it.

7:45 a.m. ET: We’ve only seen Meghan once so far but she’s listed clear through 11. Georgie is clear with a big effort at the Vicarage Vee.

🇬🇧 Alice Casburn and Topspin are up and running. Alice is the youngest competitor here this week, riding her family’s second generation homebred, ‘Spinach’. This pair were 18th here last year, and 7th at Burghley, where they jumped clear cross country and added just 7.6 time penalties to their dressage score across the three phases. There are a couple of green 20s on their record, but they’ve got XC clear form at 5* on their card too – they were 5th at Burghley in 2022. Eyes on for a leaderboard climb today 🪜

7:44 a.m. ET: Georgie Goss takes a longer circular route at the MARS Sustainability Bay. Tom Crisp is home clear with 48 seconds of time, likely closer to that 30 second average had it not been for that save at the Sustainability Bay.

7:43 a.m. ET: Feloupe shows his heart at the LeMieux Eyelash Brushes and makes the out work despite losing the line a bit. Meghan O’Donoghue is tidily through the Huntsmans Close. Let’s go Meg!

7:41 a.m. ET: “I’m so proud of my horse. He never failed to give me his absolute all. It was so unbelievably tough out there, I can’t even explain…I had to work quite hard, which is rare on that horse. I’m gutted for him about that pin, he was fault-less. It is what it is, but it doesn’t take away from what an unbelievable horse he is.” — Bubby Upton at the finish.

Sammi Birch is home but is showing with two flag penalties on her card. I’m also catching up on our newest starters as we aren’t seeing everyone on the live feed.

🇮🇪 Georgie Goss and Feloupe are away and at MARS Badminton Lake. It’s a 5* debut for Feloupe who’s on a run of 6 clear XC jumping rounds. Georgie came here for the first time in 2008 when she was just 19, and in 2009 was the only rider to have two rides inside the time.

We’re also now joined by the other U.S. rider, 🇺🇲 Meghan O’Donoghue and Palm Crescent. Meghan and ‘Palmer’ are making their Badminton debut after successfully completing the other big B in 2022 and finishing just outside the top-25. They were 11th at Kentucky that season, adding just 6 time penalties out on cross country. Palmer showed his Thoroughbred speed in the bluegrass last spring, jumping clear and coming home just a few seconds over the time for 2.4 penalties. This guy can be quick and clear on his day, but there are a couple of blips on his jumping record at the level. Fingers crossed today’s his day.

7:39 a.m. ET: OMG, Tom almost takes a swim at the MARS Sustainability Bay and I almost put my foot in my mouth, but he makes a save aided by a very good Liberty and Glory who stopped right away and waited for her rider to upright himself. Well done!

7:39 a.m. ET: “He’s such a good jumper but he comes off the bridle and I’m like, not now there’s too many big jumps! He’s quite a little horse and he had to work very hard. I don’t feel very fit today! But when you get it done it’s such a big achievement. I was a bit slow and I hate being slow, and the ground is actually just dead — it looks fine but it’s just a bit dead and they’re not bouncing up the way you’d expect them to.” — Zara Tindall debriefs with Claire Balding at the finish, also noting that Class Affair isn’t a huge fan of crowds of people (me either, buddy, super relatable).

7:37 a.m. ET: You might remember Tom’s famous swim at the Lake last year and we’re pleased to report he’s safely made it through drily this year!

7:35 a.m. ET: Now Kylie has been stopped as the ground jury has decided she did not jump the Vicarage Vee. She’ll be kicking herself for not coming back to do the long route, which clearly did occur to her and what a tough decision to make in the moment. Ugh ugh ugh. Sammi Birch also goes long at MARS Sustainability Bay. Tom Crisp is shown clear through 11.

7:34 a.m. ET: It’s unclear of whether or not SRS Kan Do made it inside the righthand flag at the Vicarage Vee. The slow motion shows maybe not, but it’s hard to say — Kylie also appeared to question it as she hesitated a bit before continuing on.

7:32 a.m. ET: 🇬🇧 Tom Crisp and Liberty and Glory are underway. Tom famously took at dive into Badminton lake last year, and thrilled the crowd with his swimming antics. He’ll be hoping to stay dry this time around. This pair were 14th at Burghley last season and top-10 in 2022. This feisty mare’s a proven leaderboard climber 🪜 At Pau in 2018, she galloped her way 54 places up the order to finish 6th.

Kylie Roddy is still invisible on the feed but is clear through 23 and Sammi Birch, who we’ve also yet to see, is clear through 11.

7:31 a.m. ET: Bubby finishes about 37 seconds over, and while they will drop down the board with those 11 penalties, you cannot discount what it took for Bubby to get to this point. You know she isn’t riding totally pain-free and just wow, it’s quite a story.

“I was sitting on a really good mare,” Felix Vogg says at the finish. “This year, it’s a totally different course and I’m really pleased with her.”

7:29 a.m. ET: We’ve not seen any of Kylie Roddy and SRS Kan Do, but they are listed as clear through fence 12.

🇦🇺 Sammi Birch and Finduss PB are up and running. This pair were 25th here in 2022 when they added just a handful of XC time in a super clear jumping round. Their last 5* run was at Burghley that year, where they were eliminated on the cross country. Sammi finished 7th on her Badminton debut in 1999.

7:27 a.m. ET: Class Affair is home clear with 46 seconds of time. Zara has had her share of grief with this horse and she has to be pretty happy with today’s performance. Bubby is clear at the Ineos Grenadier Sunken Road but does have a pin at the Agria Silver Birch Rails (21), where she had opted for the right hand side. Damn.

7:26 a.m. ET: Bubby Upton takes the long route at the MARS Sustainability Bay.

7:24 a.m. ET: Class Affair stumbles just a bit between the tree stumps at the Lightsource BP Mound but Zara sits tight and they soar over the final element. Bubby now enters the toughest part of the course after clearing the KBIS Broken Bridge. She’s now clear through the LeMieux Eyelashes, and Cola did peek a little at the water-filled ditch but there’s no issue here.

🇬🇧 Kylie Roddy and SRS Kan Do will be next to leave the start box. Kylie’s looking for her first Badminton completion here this week after retiring out on course with SRS Kan Do in 2022 and withdrawing before cross country last year due to the tricky ground conditions. This pair were 5th at Pau at the end of last season where they added just 8 XC time penalties to their score across the competition. They were 6th at Luhmuhlen in 2022, jumping clear inside the time on cross country day. This could well be one to watch 👀

7:23 a.m. ET: I love the style Cola has. He’s got a great gallop and just looks like he rides very in front of the leg — what a feeling it must be to take this one around cross country. Bubby’s clear at the MARS Badminton Lake.

7:21 a.m. ET: Cola gives the oxer at the Huntsman’s Close a bit of a rattle, but he and Bubby are clear through this influential element. Zara opts to go long at MARS Sustainability Bay.

7:20 a.m. ET: Zara uses her voice to get Class Affair in front of her leg after he peeks looking into the water. They get it done!

7:19 a.m. ET: As Zara navigates Huntsman’s Close clear, we now look to 🇬🇧 Bubby Upton and Cola, who have just got their Badminton cross country underway. Bubby’s back eventing after a serious injury last season, and we’re thrilled she’s able to be with us here today. This pair were 8th here last year, when they laid to rest the ghost of the heartbreaking run out they had at the final fence in 2022. Cola’s had no XC jumping penalties since then and when the going’s great, he’s pretty speedy, keeping time penalties to single figures. EquiRatings have him down as amongst the most reliable jumpers in the field.

7:17 a.m. ET: Felix is still working on a clear, and he’ll catch some time penalties but he’s not going to be super far off I don’t think. He’s really going for it with the toughest parts (lol) of the course done now. He finishes with about 27 seconds of time, which is telling as Felix was certainly on it most of the way around.

🇬🇧 Zara Tindall and Class Affair are with us on course now. This pairing were 15th at Kentucky last season where they jumped clear across the country and added 18 time penalties. They retired at Burghley in the fall after a 20 out on course, the gelding’s first XC jumping faults since Burghley the previous year. Will ‘Socks’ pull his socks up for his showing today? Let’s hope so.

7:15 a.m. ET: Cartania gets close to the B and long to the C of the BP Lightsource Mound, but that’s cross country riding — you ride what’s under you. India Wishart takes the frangible pin at the big oxer coming into the Huntsman’s Close with Diamond Sundance. The horse has taken a couple funny steps after getting his hind end a bit caught up in the fallen rail and India has made the decision to pull up. What a bummer for your Badminton debut, but the horse comes first and she won’t have lost much fitness this early on so she can still reroute for a spring Long format if she desires.

7:13 a.m. ET: Felix takes a gamble also at MARS Sustainability and Cartania does drop a shoulder over the log but they make it work and will be in better stead on the clock as a result. Felix is really working on a nice round. SAP Talisman is looking fit coming home, and while Sam will be disappointed with the penalties and resulting time, he’s still got a fit and confident horse coming home which is a big deal in itself.

7:11 a.m. ET: Sam Watson takes another frangible device, this time the Vicarage Vee. Super disappointing for this pair, which have been a great cross country pair to this point. Felix Vogg is clear at the LeMieux Eyelash Brushes.

🇬🇧 India Wishart and Diamond Sundance are next away. India and ‘Sunny’ are making their Badminton debut here this week. They had their first start at the level at Pau last season, where they jumped clear XC and finished up in 27th. This guy is a clear round machine with 19 consecutive XC jumping clears on their record.

7:09 a.m. ET: Sam Watson is the first to go direct at MARS Sustainability Bay and boldly goes for it with SAP Talisman. The gamble pays off.

7:09 a.m. ET: Felix and Cartania navigate Huntsman’s Close clear and very tidily.

7:08 a.m. : 🇨🇭 Felix Vogg and Cartania have left the start box. This mare made her 5* debut here at Badminton last year and finished 15th with a clear round across the country – in fact, in 32 FEI competitions she’s got just a single XC jumping penalty on her card – one. That was at a 1* way back in 2018. This jumping machine is one to watch 👀 Felix is a 5* winner, topping the Luhmuhlen leaderboard in 2022 on his birthday.

7:06 a.m: SAP Talisman hits the A of the MARS Badminton Lake and will incur 11 penalties there for dropping the frangible pin.

“I was going great through the first two thirds and I started to hunt along too much and Thomas got a bit tired,” Boyd says, saying he also saw a longer distance to the A element where he had the trouble and takes full responsibility for the trouble there. Good on ya, Boyd.

7:05 a.m. ET Ah rats, Monbeg Exclusive has had another driveby at the LeMieux Eyelash Brushes. Boyd also, of note, had 60 penalties at fence 20, apologies as I had missed the second runout or perhaps he crossed his tracks coming back around.

🇮🇪 Sam Watson and SAP Talisman are underway and hoping for the luck of the Irish as they take on Badminton. Sam has three completions on his card, but it’s a first time for ‘Podge’ who made his 5* debut at Burghley last year and finished 13th. He was clear and impressively speedy that day – just one second over the time. Fingers crossed he can replicate that 5* flair here today.

7:01 a.m. ET: Thomas finishes well with Boyd and while he’ll be sore about the trouble and extra time, we’re one step closer to that historic seventh 5* finish. Meanwhile, Max Warburton tries to move up to the D Element of the Huntsmans Close and Monbeg Exclusive doesn’t answer the question, forcing a retry.

7:00 a.m. ET: “I was a bit nervous, it’s only my ninth event on Dreamer and it’s very hot, the ground’s quite sticky,” Tom Rowland says at the finish. “He’s finished really well.”

Boyd takes another long route at the Lightsource BP Mound, focusing on getting Thomas home safely. This will certainly not be the ride Boyd visualized today.

6:58 a.m. ET: Boyd is safely through the Vicarage Vee.

🇬🇧 Max Warburton and Monbeg Exclusive are out on track. Rookie combination alert! This is a former Andrew Nicolson ride, with Max taking over the reins for the 2022 season. In 8 FEI starts together, they’ve just got an 11 penalties for activating a frangible device on their card, otherwise, it’s clear XC jumping all the way.

6:57 a.m. ET: Arklow Puissance is pretty tired coming home but another one clear with 30+ seconds of time and Wills has given him a great ride today. He finishes looking great with ears pricked.

No! Boyd and Tsetserleg have come to grief at the A element of the Sunken Road, Boyd comes around for an attempt at the long route, which will take more energy away unfortunately. Thomas has not looked 100% on form today, which is attributable to many things but Boyd will be giving him a sensible ride home.

6:56 a.m. ET: Boyd is the latest to go long at MARS Sustainability Bay. Who will we see go direct here? Why is Doug Payne not here?

6:55 a.m. ET: Thomas makes a huge effort at the LeMieux Eyelash Brushes. It will be interesting to see how much Thomas has in the tank by the end with the effort he’s had to make at some of these questions, though with so many 5* events under his belt at this point he will be one of the fittest horses here in terms of his base of fitness.

6:51 a.m. ET: Tom is going to finish a clear round with Dreamliner, who’s a bit flagging but didn’t lose his jump to the finish. Terrific round with some time (about 36 seconds’ worth, which so far has been about average with two home).

Boyd really gets a left leg workout to the D element of the Huntsmans Close. I think he was clear but the ground jury will be looking to make sure Thomas’ shoulders made it through the flags.

6:49 a.m. ET: Dreamliner slithers off the sneaky bank at Lightsource BP Mound (26ABCD). With the little raised rail at the ground line of the bank I think it will be super interesting to see how horses jump down. The rail discourages horses from dropping right down, though Dreamliner jumped down more like a “normal” bank, but some may launch over that.

Tom is clear through 28 and Wills clear through 14.

🇺🇲 Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF have got their Badminton cross country underway. We haven’t seen Boyd at Badminton since 2016 and he’s looking for his first completion of the event here this week – when he achieves it, he’ll have completed at all seven of the world’s 5*s. ‘Thomas’ finished top-10 at Burghley last year where he added just 9.6 time penalties out on XC. Earlier in the season he’d had an uncharacteristic 20 at Luhmuhlen and Kentucky, so let’s hope the clear at Burghley got him back on track and we see this special 17-year-old gelding doing what he does best here today.

6:47 a.m. ET: Tom Rowland also opts to go long at the MARS Sustainability Bay. Wills Oakden and Arklow Puissance is through the first combination at the HorseQuest Quarry Feeders (4AB).

6:45 a.m. ET: “All credit to the horse. If you’d have told me when I got him three or four years that he was going to come to Badminton, let alone jump around the way he did, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Tom Jackson says at the finish.

🇬🇧 Wills Oakden and Arklow Puissance are our next to see. ‘Mr P’ is another former Oliver Townend ride. He was 8th at Burghley with Wills last season, where he added just 4.4 time penalties out on course. Wills’ is looking for redemption here with this gelding today after a tumble on XC last year. He’s got 2 completions under his belt with other horses in his string and a 12th place finish on his record.

6:44 a.m. ET: Dreamliner comes under a strong ride at the MARS Badminton Lake (10) to make the distances, but he’s through it without issue.

Meanwhile Caroline has pulled up after a runout at the A element of fence 20 and will come back to try another time.

6:42 a.m. ET: 14.4 time penalties added for Tom Jackson, who gives a huge fist pump at the finish and I am having all the feelings. What a tone-setter! What a ride! What a horse! Tom Rowland is clear through the Huntsman’s Close with Dreamliner. We still haven’t seen much of Caroline Powell but I’m keeping an eye on her progress on fence analysis. Caroline does pop up for us at 17, MARS Sustainability Bay, where she also opts to go long at the angled log out of the water. CBI Aldo is looking a little quiet, and this is not the part of that course where that would give you a great feeling.

6:41 a.m. ET: Tom is down on the clock as he comes to the final handful of elements. Caroline is showing through fence 13 on course.

🇬🇧 Tom Rowland and Dreamliner are also up and running. Tom’s got 3 Badminton completions from 3 starts under his belt, which should have him feeling good as he gets his round underway today. Dreamliner jumped clear inside the time ‘round Luhmuhlen with fellow Badminton competitor Oliver Townend in 2022, on the gelding’s debut at the level. He added nothing in the XC in the 4*-L at Blenheim last season with Tom and there are no XC jumping penalties on his card since 2019.

6:40 a.m. ET: Tom navigates the big drop and tree stumps at 26, and now he’s just got a handful of fences standing between him and the finish. Farndon is still galloping quite well and looks not to have taken a ton out of the bank at this point.

6:38 a.m. ET: Tom opts for the right handed upright rail, slightly bigger than its left counterpart but set with an extra stride on top of the hill. Caroline has run into trouble at Huntsmans Close, driving by the open corner.

6:37 a.m. ET: Tom opts to go the long route involving a circle to the log out of the water at MARS Sustainability Bay at 17, but it really didn’t look to take a ton of extra time and will be a worthwhile option here for many riders. Caroline Powell and CBI Aldo haven’t been shown a ton yet but are shown clear through 7.

6:36 a.m. ET: Farndon answers my question of whether or not the horses would care about jumping water vs going through it at the LeMieux Eyelash Brushes at 15, and his answer was “psh”.

6:36 a.m. ET: 🇳🇿 Caroline Powell and CBI Aldo are now out on course. CBI Aldo’s making his 5* debut here this week. In 11 FEI runs, this gelding’s only had XC jumping penalties twice. He’s reasonably speedy too. Caroline has 16 Badminton completions under her belt and a Burghley win – in 2010 with the late, great Lenamore.

Tom is getting into the meaty part of the course now, clearing the KBIS Broken Bridge easily.

6:35 a.m. ET: Tom now navigates the big water complex at 10, where the strategically placed pagodas I think will really help the riders pick up their lines. Farndon easily makes the distance to the massive corner in the water. This is a really nice round so far, quiet but flowing.

6:32 a.m. ET: It’s so interesting to watch these combinations ride early on. Tom made the Voltaire Design Huntsmans Close at 7ABCD look very doable, making use of the S turn the elements are set on to find his lines, and Farndon responds beautifully.

6:31 a.m. ET: Tom’s started off at a fairly sensible pace and is neatly through the first combination, HorseQuest Quarry Feeders at 4AB.

6:30 a.m. ET: What must it be like to be the first out of the box at any event like this? Tom will be able to gather some intel for his second ride toward the end of the day, but the conditions will be different now than they will be later. He’s quite experienced at this level, but you won’t catch me jealous of his pathfinder position.

6:29 a.m. ET: Ooooo, I’m BUZZING. Here we go with Tom Jackson and Farndon, about 20 seconds from start. Let’s get this party started!

6:27 a.m. ET: We’ve had another late withdrawal: Emma Thomas (GBR) has withdrawn Icarus. Here’s a look at the other withdrawals for today:

6:30 a.m. ET: Don’t forget, you can get a deeper look at Eric Winter’s buzzing course in both our course preview here and on CrossCountryApp here.

6:20 a.m. ET: And good morning to you, EN! Sally Spickard checking in here to get us started with today’s live blog. Cheg’s already got you well-prepared for the day ahead, and we’ll see our first pair (Tom Jackson and Farndon) in just about 10 minutes’ time. Stay tuned for more!

Trailblazing their way out of the start box and kicking off Badminton cross country are 🇬🇧 Tom Jackson and Farndon. We’re up and running! This pair were 6th at Luhmuhlen last year where they finished on their dressage. They’re a really handy combination to give us a good indication of how the track’s going to ride today. They’ll be playing sardines in the riders’ tent for a look at Tom’s round, for sure.

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