Sunday 15th of May 2022

Fastest rider in the world in pole position for XC

By Kitty Trice

Australia’s Christopher Burton made a sensational start in his bid to add the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials to his already illustrious roll of honour.

Riding Graf Liberty, he holds a six penalty advantage overnight above the second placed Ingrid Klimke and Horseware Hale Bob.

Having won the Burghley title last season, Chris came to Badminton with all guns firing. Despite the late withdrawal of Adelaide winner TS Jamaimo, he produced a test in the second session of the afternoon that put everyone else’s tests in the shadows. 

© The Gaitpost


A handful of nines and eights were awarded for movements, with the marks never falling below a seven. Chris was clearly delighted with the 12 year old gelding who produced the third best test ever seen at the Gloucester event behind Darien Powers (30.8 in 2000) and Supreme Rock (31.6 in 2002).

“I’m so proud of him. I purposely didn’t push him too hard at the start of the week and he just kept working better and better. To get a 32 is fantastic.”

Ingrid Klimke, renowned for her prowess in pure dressage, rode with feel after a loud burst of applause unsettled “Bobby”.  

“He was so brave as he was so excited outside but the moment he came in he was totally with me and tried his very best. I’m very pleased as he’s such a sweet horse.”

 The double Olympic gold medallist said that she was looking forward to her ride across country on Saturday but added that the riders will face a serious test in Eric Winter-designed cross country course tomorrow.

© The Gaitpost

“I think there are so many chances where, when you are not on a line, you can have an easy run out. On the other hand you have to be really bold, as the fences are really big, but I’m really happy as Bobby has done several four star courses.”

Irish tears of joy

The Gaitpost’s columnist Jonty Evans shed tears after producing a beautiful test (37.2) on the 11 year old Cooley Rorkes Drift for third place overnight. A handful of nines littered the test, alongside consistent eights, and Jonty was keen to heap praise upon the horse.

“He’s definitely my horse of a lifetime. I’ve ridden some very average horses but he is unreal. I haven’t been sure all week whether he’s been completely with me – he was quite lit up on Wednesday but he started to come good this morning. I can’t believe he’s done it.”

In producing his best ever four star test, Jonty will also be hoping to break the record books and become the second Irish winner of the Mitsubishi Badminton trophy – Eddie Boylan remains the only Irishman to have won the trophy to date. 

The rest of the leaderboard

With gold medallists aplenty leading the charge after two days, it is fair to say the standard of dressage has risen to new excellence. Team gold medallist in Rio last year, Thibault Vallette has made an excellent start to his first Badminton on the athletic Qing Du Briot Ene HN for seventh place. Compatriot Astier Nicolas and Piaf De B’Neville also sit in the top ten overnight.

The defending champions, Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam, produced a score of 40 to sit in ninth place overnight. The evergreen Sam, who has finished on his dressage score for five of his six four star wins, will be looking to make history by being the fourth horse to win back-to-back Badmintons. 

Michael admitted that he had hoped for a score below the 40 penalty mark but, in his self effacing way, said that Sam was fit and well for the challenges of Saturday.

“I always hope to do better but I’m very happy that Sam is full of energy and power. That’s a good sign for Saturday’s cross country.”


Thoughts ahead of Saturday’s cross country

Other competitors, who found themselves further down the field after the dressage phase, remained philosophical knowing that a good cross country round could see them climb up the leaderboard.

Izzy Taylor, lying in 54th place with the diminutive Briarlands Matilda, concurred:

“There’s a lot of big jumping efforts and I think it will be a tiring course. Dimensionally it’s as big as I’ve seen it around here and there is a lot of places you can run down a fence and have 20 penalties.”

2010 winner Paul Tapner, who produced an accurate test of 43.9 from four star debutant Bonza King Of The Rouges for 15th place said he was looking forward to riding the course but also expected it to be a big step up from previous courses.

“This horse is well and truly ready but this is a Badminton like we’ve not seen before. I’m really looking forward to giving it a go out there, but with a horse that’s never been to Badminton there is so many variables.”

Gemma Tattersall, best of the British last year in third place, had a difficult time in the arena with Arctic Soul. The bright and windy conditions clearly did not help the gelding’s tension and a visibly disappointed Gemma said he was on edge at the stables. 

“He has been twitchy and tricky all day. Trying to ride the movements was pretty much impossible; there was no relaxation whatsoever. It’s super frustrating but at the end of the day he’s a horse, not a machine. I wouldn’t want to be sat on any other horse in the world [for tomorrow’s cross country] and we’ve got to go out there and give it our best shot. My main aim will be keeping him as calm as possible.”

The cross country will start at 11.30am tomorrow and the first combination out will be the USA’s Lauren Kieffer and Landmark’s Monte Carlo. 


Top 10 after dressage

1 Christopher Burton/Graf Liberty – 32.9
2 Ingrid Klimke/Horseware Hale Bob OLD – 36.4
3 Jonty Evans/Cooley Rorkes Drift – 37.2
4 Karin Donckers/Fletcha Van’t Verahof – 37.3
5 Lauren Kieffer/Veronica – 38
5 Andrew Nicholson/Nereo – 38
7 Thibault Vallette/Qing Du Briot Ene HN – 38.7
8 Bettina Hoy/Designer 10 – 39.2
9 Michael Jung/La Biosthetique Sam – 40
10 Astier Nicolas/Piaf De B’Neville – 41.5

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