Kiwis fly at Badminton

After a thrilling day’s cross-country, three New Zealand riders have rocketed into the top 10 at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.

Only five of 78 horses managed to jump around Eric Winter’s track clear and under the optimum time; Chris Burton was riding two of them, and the other three were riding under the Silver Fern.

Ginny Thompson and Star Nouveau have zoomed into the top 10 with an outstanding round (Libby Law)

Ginny Thompson was the absolute stand-out of the New Zealanders, storming home clear and under time on her cross-country machine, Star Nouveau.

Cross-country has always been the pair’s strength, but even those of us who have watched and admired the pair throughout their career were blown away with their smooth, confident and thoroughly professional performance, showing vastly more experienced combinations how it’s done.

Ginny and ‘Paige’ were three seconds under the time, and have fair soared up the leaderboard from 57th after dressage to eighth place.

Ginny is understandably, ecstatic with her mare. “It was a dream really,” she says. “She just jumped mega the whole way round. She kept answering all the questions and she went fast. I kept kicking and she kept moving up a gear. She was just brilliant.”

Ginny celebrates with her parents, Hazel and Brian Thompson (Libby Law)

Andrew Nicolson gave us a masterclass in cross-country riding on Swallow Springs, a horse he rates very highly, to improve from 10th after dressage to fourth place, clear with a second to spare.

Andrew Nicholson and Swallow Springs are now fourth (Libby Law)

Andrew was thrilled with his horse, who he says is very easy to ride. “He’s a very good galloper, and he doesn’t pull.”

Nevertheless, Andrew says the course rode bigger and trickier in parts than it walked.

And Tim Price, who had retired a rather unruly Bango earlier in the day, had a sublime round on Ringwood Sky Boy, bang on the optimal time and moving from 15th to sixth place.

Tim Price and Ringwood Sky Boy (Libby Law)

Jesse Campbell had a good round, his second time at Badminton, with Cleveland clear though adding 11.6 time faults. He’s improved from 24th to 15th place. “I am just delighted. The horse has had a bit of a checkered cross-country career but today he really fought for me. There were so many fences out there that were just so unpredictable, but he stuck with me and did the job.”

Jesse Campbell and Cleveland (Libby Law)

Sadly for him, Sir Mark Todd’s ride, NZB Campino, didn’t fire. He looked a little reluctant early on the course, then put the brakes on at the open ditch at the influential Shogun’s Hollow combination at 10ab. Mark retired after the refusal.

Sir Mark Todd and NZB Campino (Libby Law)

Great Britain’s Oliver Townend is still out in front after cross-country, but the horse he won the dressage with, Cillnabradden Evo, incurred 12.4 time faults to drop to seventh place.

Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class (Libby Law)

But his grey Ballaghmor Class, one of the last out on course, was clear and just a second over, adding 0.4pen to his dressage mark, to take the lead, and has a rail in hand over second-placed Piggy French and Vanir Kamira.

Piggy French and Vanir Kamira (Libby Law)
Chris Burton and Graf Liberty (Libby Law)

Chris Burton was the best of the Australians, and is now third on Graf Liberty and fifth on Cooley Lands, while his compatriot Bill Levett is ninth on Lassban Diamond Lift. Tina Cook makes up the top 10, on Billy the Red.