“It rode how I expected it should and I planned the course for the conditions we had last year,” said Giuseppe della Chiesa at this evening’s press conference at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials. The final result going into the showjumping sees Andrew Nicholson still at the top on 37.8 with Nereo, William Fox-Pitt on 39, Oliver Townend on 39.6 with Ingrid Klimke on 40.2 and Jock Paget on 40.8 – only a pole separates the top 6.
Whilst we didn’t see a repeat of the carnage Giuseppe’s course caused last year, it did cause problems for some. It was a huge shame to see Sam Griffiths retire Happy Times after he left his stifles behind and tipped his quarters up buckling at the water but Sam luckily stayed dry. The same can’t be said for Andrew Hoy and Rutherglen who had a very dramatic fall into the water, having had one earlier on Lanfranco who jumped the last part of the element riderless and bolted off . There were other casualties but nothing like in 2014 when not a single rider finished within the optimum time and there were only 35 completions. Today 13 romped home within the time, there were 10 eliminations and 6 retirements. Flora Harris withdrew after cross country but the all-important vet inspection tomorrow morning may see others go home early.
Discussing his round, Oliver Townend spoke of Armada’s pure class and that “he felt unbelievably on form.” Townend went on to say that Armada knows him very well and they share a great deal of mutual trust.
William Fox-Pitt felt today had been a fantastic day for the sport with perfect conditions providing the horses with a good run. “Chilli rode the course really well and I am very happy with him. The time rode easily.”
And leader, Andrew Nicholson, revealed that his second ride, Calico Joe, has spooked at everything on his way to the warm-up but left the start box feeling like a Ferrari. Andrew felt the morning ground for Nereo’s round had been more holding and that Calico Joe had benefitted from the drier conditions. Speaking at the press conference, Nicholson joked that after today he was “ready for Oliver to take over; he’s almost a schoolmaster now!”
So with 2 full brothers in the top 3, Nereo and Armada, add a stallion in to the mix with Chilli Morning, and 3 hungry rivals, tomorrow is going to be edge of the seat stuff. We can’t wait.
Photos (c) Lucy Hall Photography