Apr 22, 2023

Badminton Horse Trials 2023: 11 things you might not know

Still not had enough of Badminton Horse Trials, presented by Mars Equestrian? We’ve got some fun facts from the week for you…

1. This year's Badminton was the first time William Fox-Pitt has ridden a mare at five-star level. He finished 14th with Amanda Gould's Grafennacht.

William said that the reason he has never ridden a mare at five-star was quite simply because he has "never had one to ride".

2. Gemma Stevens (neé Tattersall) said that she has been working hard on her level of fitness, utilising the benefits of Pilates to aid her riding.

"I’ve been working really hard on my own fitness, doing a lot of Pilates," she said. "I actually did a 20-minute session before I got on [for the dressage] to stretch and engage the body. That's probably what's changed for me – getting myself fit, strong and feeling better. I felt relaxed and chilled. Yes you get heart flutters, but I didn't feel tight or tense."

3. And it wasn't just Gemma who upped her fitness game, as her ride at this year's Badminton Horse Trials, Jalapeno, also had meticulous preparation.

"No stone has been unturned with this horse's prep," explained Gemma, who finished sixth with Chris Stone's 15-year-old mare. "She's been swimming once a week, and galloping once a week since the middle of January, because I wanted a long, slow process.

"She is a long mare and so I have to be really careful she doesn't get sore in her back and body. I’ve been working on her strength, keeping her happy and strong."

4. Although Ros Canter winning Badminton with Michelle Saul's Lordships Graffalo was terribly exciting for everyone, Ros’ three-year-old daughter Ziggy managed to sleep through the entire moment, including the prize-giving.

5. Ros was one of two riders to complete Badminton Horse Trials with two horses – the other rider was Dan Jocelyn. Besides winning on Lordships Graffalo (Walter), Ros was also ninth with Kate James and Annie Makin's 14-year-old mare, Pencos Crown Jewel (Jasmine).

What is even more remarkable is that Walter and Jasmine are half siblings as they are both out of the same mare; Cornish Queen, who is by Rock King. Walter's sire is Grafenstolz, while Jasmine is by Jumbo.

6. Tom McEwen took a fresh approach to this year's Badminton, deciding to take the pressure off himself, and it worked as he finished fourth with his mother Alison McEwen's, Fred and Penny Barker's and Jane Inns’ Toledo De Kerser.

"I have messed up here too many times with the most amazing horse, so I came here this year with the idea of having fun," said Tom.

7. Billy Walk On (Feale), one of Pippa Funnell's rides at Badminton this year, has a fabulous cross-country record, having only faulted seven times since he started eventing in 2017. However, he has now been retired by Pippa across country at Badminton three times in a row – all at the same fence; the Mars Equestrian Sustainability Bay, which was fence 10 on this year's track.

Pippa stated on Facebook after the event:

"One thing we are all guaranteed horses are great levellers. Having had such a great autumn last year, culminating in finishing eighth at Burghley and a really solid spring campaign with three good, bold runs, I really hoped Feale might have put his Badminton demons to rest. Oh, how wrong I was. Was I angry with him? No. Disappointed? Very. You can barely count on one hand the cross-country faults he has had throughout his career, but unbelievably three of them were up at that (excuse the swearing) f***ing pond. It just shows how good their memories are and I give him credit for that.

"He is a very good horse, but not all horses are Badminton horses. He has now made it quite clear that Badminton is not his venue (particularly if that pond is there!), so we will have a rethink."

Pippa finished 10th with her other ride, Majas Hope.

8. Lithuania's Aistis Vitkauskas finished 26th with his own and Mogens and Birgitte Kloeve-Mogensen's Commander VG, and eagle-eyed spectators will have noticed Aistis was wearing a knitted hat cover across country.

"My 82-year-old mother knitted it for me 10 years ago and told me to wear it every time I went cross-country for good luck – so that's what I’ve done!" explained Aistis.

9. Solo, the mount of New Zealand's Hollie Swain, who finished 28th at this year's Badminton Horse Trials, had actually competed at Badminton before. He finished third in the BE90 Badminton Grassroots Championship with Emily Taggart in 2016.

10. After the prize-giving, Tim Price (Vitali), Pippa Funnell (Majas Hope) and Gemma Stevens (Jalapeno) walked their horses into The Lake to help wash their legs off before heading back to the stables.

11. Lauren Innes finished 24th with her family's Global Fision M with a clear jumping cross-country round. Remarkably, Lauren juggles competing at five-star level with a full-time job as an accountant.

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