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Today’s SJ course was deliberately intended to be very testing, I suspect, since having the top 5 unchanged after the dresssage and XC is one thing, but if they remain so after the SJ then the cries of “it was a dressage competition” (mostly by people who’ve never jumped one fence that big, let alone a course!) might become deafening. Faults were spread around the twisty course, which looked a full-up 1.30, the number of big square oxers taking its toll, and the water tray catching out some.
There were only a few clear rounds in the morning session, from Chris Burton and TS Jamaimo, whose 20 for crossing his tracks in Huntsman’s Close are the only penalties he has added to his dressage mark, pushing him a frustrating 23 places down the board in the end), Andrew Heffernan with Boleybawn Ace, and Louisa Milne Home on the huge and scopey King Eider, always a crowd favourite. There were quite a few cricket scores, despite the good going yesterday – this SJ course was really built to catch them out.
The afternoon session brought many more falling poles, rare clears rocketing riders up the leaderboard. Nicola Wilson and One Too Many managed this, shooting from 18th overnight to an eventual 7th place and Toddy’s single time penalty pushed him and Leonidas II up to 4th.
Ingrid Klimke rattled a few with Horseware Hale Bob, but clinched a crucial clear to put huge pressure on the three above her overnight, all needing to go clear to deny her the title.
Oliver Townend’s ride Armada booted the first one down and that was that… then the 2nd went too… he proceeded to jump by braille and had another two, but with a lesser rider it could have been more like 6! Oliver gave a wry wave of the hand to the cheering crowd at the end, having dropped to 11th.
Chilli Morning looked an absolute picture for William Fox-Pitt and his team and they managed a wonderful clear, rattling the penultimate quite hard but leaving it up, this phenomenal stallion answering every question to stay faultless and put huge pressure on Andrew Nicholson.
Nereo looked fantastic when he came in, but unfortunately the horse totally losing his rhythm to fence 2 and dropped to trot, totally throwing the stride Andrew had seen out of the window and getting in very deep, leading to Nereo chesting the top pole and taking it with him, and it was all over. This happened a few times, so perhaps he is not quite right. Another two poles fell, dropping them down to 6th.
So, it was a very popular win for William Fox-Pitt and Christopher Stone’s utterly awesome stallion Chilli Morning. Is Chilli the first stallion to win Badminton? Or any 4*, perhaps? We are checking our facts but we think so…
Huge congratulations to everyone who competed, and especially to William on his second victory here, to Runner-up Ingrid Klimke, and third placed Jock Paget, and their teams, and to everyone involved in this fantastic running of the biggest show in the world. Brilliant Badminton is over for another year.
Final Results are HERE