The Road to Badminton: 150 Competitors for Thoresby CCI4*-S British Season Opener

The 2023 MARS Equestrian Badminton Horse Trials is just under six weeks away, and even despite the abortive start to the British Eventing season, which has seen a number of cancellations due to either snow earlier in the month or rain now, horses and riders on this side of the pond are still locked, loaded, and ready to tackle their prep events in fine style. Top of the priority list for almost all of them? The Eventing Spring Carnival at Thoresby, which will host the first CCI4*-S of the British season next weekend (March 30–April 2). With 150 entries (yes, you read that right) in the four-star feature class alone, the competition will be seriously hot and the opportunities to talent-spot some of this season’s biggest stars, unmissable.

Yasmin Ingham and Banzai du Loir. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

How do you even begin to pick highlights from a field of 150, anyway?! All the usual suspects are here: we’ve got five-star winners in the form of Tim Price and Coup de Coeur Dudevin (Maryland 2022), Mollie Summerland and Charley van ter Heiden (Luhmühlen 2021), Laura Collett and London 52 (Pau 2020; Badminton 2022), and Tom McEwen and Toledo de Kerser (Pau 2019). We’ve also got reigning World Champions Yasmin Ingham and Banzai du Loir, as well as a number of horses and riders who came achingly close to a five-star victory in 2022 (Ros Canter and Lordships Graffalo, second at Badminton, and Tom Jackson and Capels Hollow Drift, we’re looking at you!).

Gemma Tattersall’s aptly-named Johansome takes fourth place at Le Lion d’Angers in 2021. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

There are some up-and-comers we can’t wait to see in action, too: Mollie Summerland had some fantastic results last season with the Cloke family’s leggy Flow 7, who won the CCI3*-S at Nunney and was third in the CCI3*-L at Osberton, among his accolades, and we can’t wait to see how he takes to his four-star debut. Just a touch more experienced, Gemma Stevens‘s (nee Tattersall) Johan-Some has one CCI4*-S under his belt, at Chatsworth last spring, and then sat the better part of a year out – but in his eight FEI starts, he’s never finished lower than ninth, and all being well, he should be very impressive in 2023. It’ll be just a second international start together for Jonelle Price and the former Cathal Daniels ride LEB Lias Jewel, but their first — a top ten in the CCI4*-L at Lignieres at the tail end of the season — looked a very promising start indeed, and we look forward to seeing what they do together. Plus, we’ll get the chance to follow the continuation of new partnerships between established horses and riders such as Oliver Townend and As Is (formerly piloted by Andrew Nicholson), Tom McEwen and Nicola Wilson’s European Champion JL Dublin, and Ros Canter and the five-star pony Dassett Cooley Dun, previously campaigned by Sarah Way.

Dirk Schrade and Casino 80. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

We’re also delighted to see Germany’s Dirk Schrade make the trip over with his excellent Casino 80, who was runner-up at both the ultra-competitive Luhmühlen CCI4*-S, which acts as Germany’s national championship, and the Blenheim CCI4*-L, too, and to see the return of intrepid Aussies Sarah Clark and LV Balou Jeanz, who tackled Burghley last year and are now crowdfunding their way to Badminton.

Of course, that’s really just the tip of the iceberg, so we highly recommend skimming through the jam-packed entry list here — and, of course, tuning in to EN from Thursday, where myself and Diana Gilbertson will be busy boots on the ground to bring you all the news, views, and stories you need from this almost obscenely exciting few days of sport. Go Eventing!


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