The excitement of this epic Badminton was carried right to the wire, with nobody going clear inside the time in the SJ, just as on the XC yesterday. Wendy Schaeffer was the only clear jumping, and she had 3 time penalties, which pulled her up from 18th to 12th.
Today, just 1 down was a great round. Usually there’s one or two ‘cricket scores’ at a 3-day… today, there were many. The ground was holding and one very experienced rider was overheard saying that the horses just did not want to jump out of it. Any of the top few could have won it with a clear SJ. It was wide open all the way, making for an unforgettable year.
Harry Meade, hero of the hour due to his amazing comeback after a horror fall last year which led to experts saying he would never ride again, had only one down with his faithful campaigner Wild Lone. He rose from 46= after dressage to 8th overnight, and then to 3rd with those precious 4 faults. The jumping phases were hugely influential… as they should be!
Oliver Townend and the irrepressible Armada, who looks like a seriously difficult ride needing every last ounce of Oliver’s tact and skill, had two down, but still rose from 4th to eventual 2nd place, a great result for this phenomenal but oh-so-tricky horse.
New Zealander Tim Price, in 2nd over night, had 4 down and 3 time, which dropped him to 9th. Aussie Paul Tapner’s stunning Kilronan, in the lead overnight, unfortunately had 4 down, looking a bit earthbound, to drop him to 4th. But,interviewed straight after by Clare Balding, Tappers was philosophical, saying his horse had been fantastic in 2 phases, had done his best today, and that if you’d told him a week ago he’d be 4th he’d have been overjoyed. He kept talking about the many variables in the sport… this week, they were more obvious than usual!
So it was left to the stalking horse, Australian Sam Griffiths, on his superb Irish mare Paulagh Brockbank, owned by Dinah Posford, Jules Carter, and himself, to sneak up the leaderboard and take the glory. They were 25th after the dressage on a very respectable 46.3pens, rose to 5th place overnight after a pretty speedy clear yesterday with only 17.6 time penalties, and then skipped around here today with just the 1 fence down to take the crown.
This was an EPIC Badminton. The riders wanted a tougher XC course after last year, and, especially thanks to the weather gods, they got it, in spades. It will be fascinating to see what happens next. Suffice to say that anyone who managed to complete this year deserves a lot of respect after this amazing competition. Badminton is back to being the biggest track in the world.