Blow-by-blow Badminton XC

All you need to know about the cross country at Badminton. Not quite as good as being there, but nearly!

Here’s the action as it happened, on cross country day.  

We are underway!  Caroline Powell is out on her lovely grey and so far so good. Not going for the time, but the horse does, as Ian Stark said during his commentary, have a long stride.  Safely through the water, taking the longer route, but done very neatly.

Another longer route at the pond, but beautifully over the Vicarage V. Caroline is SUCH a good rider.

Halltown Harley is on route too, right after Caroline, ridden by Georgie Spence.  Interestingly, the horse was produced by Caroline but she won’t be able to see how he is going of course!

Caroline is into the main arena to a big cheer, and is smiling very widely as she goes through the finish flags with time penalties, over a minute over the time. A great trailblazer!  33.6 time faults but a clear jumping round.

Caroline, afterwards, said that the course wasn’t the biggest but that it was quite technical and quirky. “Down in the warm up it was really really quite hot. If you get down there too early the horse will suffer. Once you get on the course you get a bit of wind.”

“It was amazing, coming into the arena, everyone just lifts you so much. But going out the start, it was more like, couldn’t you be a bit quiet? I think it helped the horse, it gave him a bit more sense of what it was in for. Everyone was really good round the course, cheering and the lines rode really well.”

Meanwhile, Andrew Nicholson is underway with Nereo, last year’s champion, and took the longer option at the pond. Bit of an ugly one over the Vicarage V and took the flag out but onward! He’s still pushing for time but according to the commentators looks to be a bit over according to the minute markers.

Andrew and Nereo, photo thanks to Christine Jeffcote

Sir Mark Todd is now on course with Leonidas II and quick through the first few fences. He kicked the flag out with his back legs at the mound but no faults for that.

Andrew heads for the last log and is going to be over the time. Still a beautiful round, and giving it his all. Big cheer in the main arena and safely home, but 18 seconds over the time and is the leader at this early stage!

Sir Mark takes a different route through the pond to everyone before him, and will be the quickest through that combination at this stage. Awesome over the Vicarage V!

Alexander Bragg is home, he will probably get 11 faults for breaking a frangible pin earlier on the course.

Sir Mark is flying over the big brush corners, Leo looks so rideable! Toddy and Leo do an awkward jump over the last fence but they are home safely albeit over the time, but is the second fastest so far (after Andrew), and they finish with 8.4 time faults.

Sir Mark and Leo on track. Photo thanks to Christine Jeffcote.

Afterwards, Sir Mark said: “He was really good. You point him at a fence and he will get over it somehow. The ground is really sticky, my horse is a pretty fast horse but he was finding it hard work. You just have to look after them a bit, it is a long way home, you don’t want to run out of petrol.”

Ollie Townend is home safely on his first horse, with one of the first to congratulate him being Andrew Nicholson. The pair are great mates.

Andrew was interviewed by Clare Balding: “It is a nice ground to gallop on but when you have to do it for twelve minutes, it is hard work. I went one long way, as I wanted to freshen his jump up. He was telling me at the end, ‘I am going as quick as I can, so can you just sit there please.” He confirmed Nereo lost a shoe on course but didn’t seem very phased about it, saying it often happens with him. Andrew is predicting that no-one will get home in the time.

Dan Jocelyn and Dasset Cool Touch have a run out at the last combination out of the lake. He didn’t get up onto the dry on a good stride and it was just too hard for the horse to see the last element. They continue on well however.

Ollie after the course: “With this sunshine – it is blimming warm, I am hoping it will still dry out a bit,” – referring to his second ride on his dressage leader still to come late in the day. He was heading back for a sleep in his lorry before riding his next horse.

Meanwhile, Dan did an awesome jump over the Vicarage V and also did well through the Hollow. He came home safely, and was just over a minute over time.

Clare Abbott from Ireland is the quickest going around at the moment on Euro Prince, she took a fair flyer through the pond. After some spectacular jumping, unfortunately for her, the bullfinch was their undoing, and they had a fall. There’s been three falls and one retirement so far with 12 home safe. We’ve also just seen Eddie Jones, the English rugby manager in attendance.

Ben Hobday has a near miss at the brush corners, at the first one, and incurred 20 penalties but was so close to ending up on the ground! Well done Ben, great recovery! He finished the round safely, although very short of breath at the end!

There are huge crowds there, as it is a lovely day. While the spectators may be enjoying the nice weather, it’s hot for the riders!

Frustratingly, there has been no sign of Andy Daines and Spring Panorama on course yet, and now Michael Jung has started so is dominating our screens. The first we see of Andy is a big oops at the Lake, and while he came close to getting a dunking, he recovered well, and ended up taking a very long route through. It will be interesting to see what the Ground Jury make of it all. He could end up with some penalties, and they may not like the way he ended up jumping into the roped off area.

Vicarage V – no problems to Andy and Pete!

A near-miss for Michael Jung – which commentator Ian Stark said was rider error! He has recovered and gone back to being perfect.

Andy’s Badminton is over, he had a fall at the last of the brush corners. Just saw it all wrong, climbed all over it and they both tumbled. Both up quickly and look OK but so very disappointing for Andy.

Tim Price and Ringwood Sky Boy are underway. They put in an extra stride in the Huntsman’s Close, but safely through, it’s not a style competition!

Michael Jung is home safely, and is over the time, but one of the fastest at the moment being 15 seconds over and goes into the lead.

Tim was beautifully calculated through the Mound. Not so attractive at the pond, but through the fastest route, and it was safe. Beautifully over the Vicarage V this year, go Tim!

Tim is safely home and over the time (12.4 time faults), but safe and the horse looked to finish very well.

Michael Jung goes into the lead with the fastest round so far, with just six time faults. Some of his comments after the round: “The ground, it might get tough. Difficult to get a rhythm. For him it was hard to gallop but it is nice to ride such an amazing horse. We have big experience together. I know where I can trust him. In the end it was not the nicest round but it was still a nice feeling on him, especially to feel how fresh he is and how much fun he has.”

As to retirement for Sam? “He will tell me if he would like to do more. He loves the competition, he loves to gallop, he loves the training.”

American Lauren Kieffer and Veronica have been having lessons with Jonelle Price in an endeavour to get faster, after incurring a big bunch of time faults at Burghley. It seems to have been working, they are looking pretty speedy! 24 seconds over time (9.6 penalties) and she goes into third place at the moment.

Pippa Funnell is having some steering problems and has incurred 20 at the Lake with Billy Beware. She retires later on the course.

Ginny Thompson is on course with Star Nouveau, but haven’t seen her yet. Heard the commentary that she was through the Huntsman’s Close OK.

Ginny was “pretty slick” through the mound, according to the commentator, but she did push the flag out at the last. Hopefully won’t get those pesky 50 penalties for that (she didn’t). Paige has also hit a fence, setting off the frangible pin so will get 11 penalties for that, unless the Ground Jury decide it didn’t save her from a fall. She had a bit of a hairy moment out of the pond but Ginny’s stickability was first rate and they are powering on. (NB: The 11 penalties remain).

Lots of cheering as Ginny and Paige finish, and some good shots of her support team running flat out to get to her! Well done Ginny! 15.6 time faults plus the 11 faults, and she slots into 17th place at the moment on a total score of 70.2. Sir Mark is currently 5th, Andrew is 6th and Tim is 8th but there’s still plenty to come. Ros Canter is looking good on course, she was third after the dressage on Allstar B.

Izzy Taylor is on course with Perfect Stranger, a horse that Andrew Nicholson rode for some time, taking him up to four-star level but after Andrew’s injury, when Andrew downsized his team, the horse went to Izzy. They glance off at the third element of the Huntsman’s Close and elect to retire at that point, which will mean she can reroute to another event quickly.

Ros Canter goes into the lead, finishing clear but with 6.4 time penalties, the second fastest round of the day so far. It was an impressive round!

William Fox Pitt had a run out at the Huntsman’s Close and has retired.

Andrew joins the commentary team and still says that it will be unlikely anyone will make the time. Imogen Murray just recorded the fastest round of the day so far with Ivar Gooden, just 4.2 time faults which rocketed her up from 59th to 10th currently.

In the commentary, Tina Cook (not riding as recovering from a shoulder injury) and Andrew Nicholson are discussing the new scoring system and don’t agree it is the way to go. They don’t want to see someone with an appalling dressage test win a competition at the top level, and believe that riders will take too many risks on cross country.

Australian Paul Tapner has a few lives, especially at the second to last, but has done some brilliant jumps too. But he’s home, with a bunch of time penalties – 32 in fact.

Tina Cook was discussing the various nations looking at their riders for WEG selection, but Andrew was ominously quiet and didn’t make a comment.

Jonty Evans and Cooley Rorkes Drift are doing a good job early in the course and getting lots of cheers as they go around – perhaps there are a lot of the 6,000 owners of the horse on course. The horse was purchased through a crowd-funding scheme, but imagine the pressure of riding for so many owners!  Unfortunately things didn’t go well in the pond, getting a half stride, and ending up stuck in the oxer second element and having to take the jump down to extricate themselves. Both OK though.  Hard luck Jonty.

Here’s Jonelle Price, about to start with everyone talking her up as potentially being the fastest round. Let’s hope so! Good luck Jonelle!

Jonelle impressing the spectators – especially the man in the shorts – as she speeds by (Photo thanks to Christine Jeffcote)

The Huntsman’s Close has been causing problems for many, but none for Jonelle, very smooth and quickly through.

Woah, Classic Moet was keen to get through that Lake, jumping big out over the huge log into the Lake, then getting close to the second element, and then having to make a quick decision to go the long way to the third element, but she didn’t waste too much time and is still clear.

Jonelle is taking the fast route through the Pond, but the commentators reckon that she is still behind the time a bit, four or five seconds. Let’s hope she can make it up.

Piggy French was also putting on a good display until she takes a tumble into the Hildon Water Pond and gets very wet. Both are OK from what we can see.

Jonelle is storming into the arena to big cheers, over the last, and JUST outside the time. One second outside the time!!!!  But that’s good enough to put her INTO THE LEAD at this stage!

Jonelle afterwards: “I thought I might have ruined it, when I made a mistake and was just too strong at the head of the lake, she did fantastically well to get me out of it, but I was up against it then, obviously having to go long.”

“She is so unspecial that she is so incredibly special. She makes me look good.”

When asked by Clare Balding whether it was any different to ride as a mother now, Jonelle’s reply was great. “No, the only difference is when I came to get on I had the Incy Wincy Spider song stuck in my head!”

As to the pressure? “I tried to avoid the hype and media but felt the pressure that she was one that could go near the time. You just have to go out and do your job.”

Sir Mark is underway on Kiltubrid Rhapsody and beautifully through the Quarry. Not the prettiest through the Huntsman’s Close but got it done!

The other horse who was predicted to go close to inside the time was Gemma Tattersall and Arctic Soul but it wasn’t to be, but still a quick time, just 4.4 time faults and clear jumping.

Meanwhile, Sir Mark successfully through the Lake and then the Mound. It is such a privilege being able to watch this man ride! The Pond, they give the first one a bit of a rub but no worries and they look to be eating up the ground as they head to the next pond and do the quick route through that.

Ian Stark says “he is giving him a peach of a ride” and we would have to agree!

Sir Mark Todd is now being held between fences 24 and 25 which isn’t ideal. Alex Bragg’s horse has encountered some problem, hence the hold. Meanwhile, Caroline Powell is underway and puts in a few trot strides at the Lake but that worked for her!

Sir Mark is back underway, and Kiltubrid Rhapsody has switched back on and looks like he is enjoying himself! Maybe it will play into his flavour and he can do a fast finish. He flies the big brush and does a big one over the second to last. He’s over the time on the clock and gets a huge cheer. 25 seconds over the time – 10 time faults and that puts them into fifth place at this stage.

Tina Cook reckons that was the best ride she has seen Toddy ride for the last few years – and that is saying something!

Caroline Powell finishes with a clear jumping round but over a minute over the time. What a great achievement with getting her two inexperienced horses home clear jumping! Ones to watch for the future for sure.

Ollie Townend is riding a tired horse at the end of their course, but is pushing on aggressively despite the horse being obviously nearly spent. He’s going to be over the time, and stumbles over the last fence, both the horse and Ollie both look knackered! He has added 7.2 time faults to his score so is equal to Jonelle but because she is closest to the optimum time, she is still the leader going into the last day! Quite an achievement for Jonelle moving from 22nd place to 1st!

Hurrah Jonelle and Classic Moet!

Tomorrow is going to be very nerve wracking! There is nothing between the first four competitors (Jonelle, Ollie, Ros Canter, and Michael Jung).

Final standings for the kiwis:

  • Jonelle Price, Classic Moet: 1st
  • Sir Mark Todd, Kiltubrid Rhapsody: 6th
  • Sir Mark Todd, Leonidas: 10th
  • Andrew Nicholson, Nereo: 12th
  • Tim Price, Ringwood Sky Boy: 14th
  • Caroline Powell, On the Brash: 33rd
  • Caroline Powell, Up Up and Away: 36th
  • Virginia Thompson, Star Nouveau: 39th
  • Dan Jocelyn, Dasset Cool Touch: 44th


Final results:  Live scoreboard