Badminton begins!

The unmistakeable Badminton House sets the scene for the first horse inspection (Libby Law)

Badminton 2019 has barely started, and there’s already drama aplenty, as two horses were withdrawn from the holding box at the first horse inspection, and another got loose.

Many horses were spooking on the atmospheric trot-up strip and Springpower, the second of two rides for Britain’s Izzy Taylor, took particular exception to it. The 10-year-old gelding trotted halfway up the strip before spinning and getting away from Izzy. He started to bolt towards the stables, but none other than our own Kiwi superhero Tim Price managed to stop the horse, averting disaster.

Springpower was then accepted by the Ground Jury, which comprises Nick Burton, Jane Hamlin and Christian Steiner.

Both Tim’s rides, Ringwood Sky Boy and Bango, were accepted, along with those of fellow New Zealanders Sir Mark Todd (NZB Campino), Andrew Nicholson (Swallow Springs), Ginny Thompson (Star Nouveau) and Jesse Campbell (Cleveland).

Tim chose a dove grey jacket with a red and blue tie, which co-ordinated with his blue trousers, for the first horse inspection. Here he is with Bango (Libby Law)
Tim and Ringwood Sky Boy step out in harmony (Libby Law)
Sir Mark is usually one of the sharpest male dressers at the trot-ups, and didn’t disappoint this time, with this camel jacket, contrasting with shades of blue, and great shoes! (Libby Law)
Ginny turned heads with her pretty embroidered top, teamed with simple black pants and suede ankle boots; Star Nouveau (‘Paige’) looks very keen! (Libby Law)
Andrew Nicholson wore his favourite tweed jacket with jeans, in a more casual approach (Libby Law)
Jesse Campbell was dapper in a cream double-breasted suit (Libby Law)

But two riders were not so fortunate. Tamra Smith (USA), on her first trip to Badminton, made a lovely picture on the trot-up track with Wembley, but he was sent to the holding box, where he was withdrawn before representing.

Badminton was cut sadly short for this glamorous pair, Tamra Smith and Wembley (Libby Law)

Hanna Berg, of Sweden, was also contesting her first Badminton with Quite Survivor, but it was sadly cut short when they too were sent to the holding box before withdrawing.

Here’s a shot for the fans of men in uniforms: Italy’s Pietro Sandei with Rubis de Prere (Libby Law)
Britain’s Alex Bragg wore a flat top hat with his striking checked three-piece suit, which featured raspberry-hued accents (Libby Law)

Eighty combinations now start the competition proper, with the dressage starting at 9.30am Thursday (UK time), which is 8.30pm this evening here in New Zealand.

The first pair out will be Pippa Funnell and Majas Hope. Our first rider is Tim Price with Bango, at 9.18pm (NZ time), and the only other Kiwi to compete tonight is Jesse Campbell, who is number 33 to go, at 2.24am.

Friday’s dressage kicks off with a bang for Kiwi fans, with Ginny and Star Nouveau second into the arena at 9.38pm (NZ time), followed three riders later by Sir Mark and Campino, then Andrew with Swallow Springs immediately after.

Tim’s second ride, his Burghley winner Ringwood Sky Boy, is on at 3.48am.

Ginny and Paige looking impressive in some last-minute dressage schooling (Libby Law)

Go Kiwis!