The familiar yellow colours of six-time Badminton winner, Lucinda Green, will be engrained in my memory, and indeed millions more, for decades to come. Her phenomenal six wins on six different horses between 1973 and 1984 is the work of a true champion.
Her determination on the cross-country course is legendary – many have tried to emulate it but Lucinda remains the Queen of Badminton. She was 19 when she won her first Badminton title on Be Fair, a horse given to her for her 15th birthday and who went from Pony Club partner to carrying her to the first of two European championship titles and her first Olympics in Montreal.
Lucinda continues to inspire a generation of riders with her enthusiasm and dedication to the sport and her expertise is still very much in demand. We were delighted to catch up with Lucinda, which in itself is no mean feat due to her incredible energy and schedule and gathered her thoughts on this year’s Badminton.
Who are you looking forward to seeing at Badminton?
It is always riveting to see how people are developing and I love watching partnerships grow, both old and new ones. I am really looking forward to seeing Charlotte Agnew ride Out of Africa Too, who is back from being lame and also Louise Harwood, who has a unique style XC and is fast developing her dressage.
I am interested to see how Gemma Tattersall goes and how Andrew Hoy manages with Lanfranco, who Bettina used to ride. The latter went well at Burnham Market. And also Jock Paget who has an unusually forward seat XC which may never land him in trouble, but Jock is extraordinarily talented and us normal mortals wouldn’t want to copy it.
Izzy Taylor who always imbibes deep confidence into her horses will be great to watch. I remember her telling me that she did not think Thistledown Poposki was an Advanced horse, and I love seeing horses who were deemed not talented enough, find their way there. Izzy rides with a great combination of balance and trust.
Why is fitness so key for Badminton?
For a start, you don’t really know if you have a Badminton horse until you have been round twice. I am 99% sure that this year will be a proper Badminton. Giuseppe Della Chiesa was quite shocked how the weather affected things last year. And I think riders were shocked how much fitter the horses had to be. Last year was a proper 4* track but the weather conspired against the horses. They can’t apparently breathe properly in 60mph winds and the deep ground was energy sapping.
My generation grew up with Badminton being the biggest event in the world. That had dissipated somewhat over the last two decades – but as from last year Badminton was back.
It is considered a flatter track than most, Burghley is much hillier but due to when Badminton is in the calendar, it is a challenge to have the horses out and fit enough in time for it. I remember one year, about 4 years ago, when the horses were becoming unexpectedly exhausted and no one knew why. The course took them from the Vicarage ditch all the way up to the quarry after a very intensive bit along the Vicarage Ditch and suddenly Badminton wasn’t quite so flat any more.
Do you have a favourite Badminton fence?
It wasn’t my favourite jump but landing over the Vicarage V was definitely a big moment each time and My Goodness you felt a huge amount of relief
Why is Badminton so special?
There is a particular point when horses have to jump bigger tracks, and if it can toughen up but be a horse-friendly course, the horse will be encouraged to do well. The cross country has to be a test and Badminton is the pinnacle that then sets the gold standard for the rest of the sport.
I couldn’t begin to tell you who might win – it’s Badminton – the old guard have the experience but who knows, if you can foretell the result by the dressage then it hasn’t been a successful event. The cross country element has to be the principal test not what is, in international terms, second rate dressage and show jumping.
And last minute words of advice for the start box?
I would give anyone the same advice that my Father gave me every time I rode, when I was white with fear, and that is, remember why you do this – you do it for FUN ….
Lucinda will be holding a XC Course Walk in conjunction with Pure Feeds on Friday 8th May. Tickets are £15 and can be purchased at the beginning of the walk. Meet at 12.15 for a 12.30 start at Fence 2.