After an unscheduled rain shower soaking some of the riders in the trot-up, the rest of the final day of Badminton was suitably scorching, leading to a few pleas over Radio Badminton for sun cream delivery to the stands. 47 horses came forward for the final horse inspection, Emily Gilruth having withdrawn Topwood Beau overnight.
The vast majority of the horses looked fit and well and raring to go, with only Sportsfield Othello (Joseph Murphy), Balmoral Sensation (Clarke Johnstone) and Cornacrew (Simon Grieve) being sent to the hold box. Only Cornacrew failed to make it through the final inspection, and he was withdrawn from the hold box, whilst the other two held horses were accepted on representation.
Alice Neber-Lozeman had to sprint down the trot-up to keep up with a very fresh and elevated Harry Belafonte, so it was no surprise when the pair posted the first clear round of the day in the morning session of show jumping. BLM Diamond Delux (Sarah Ennis) looked like exactly the sort of horse you wanted to be sat on on the final day, as he gave every fence plenty of room for a classy clear. The Irish were on top form on the final day, with Michael Ryan (Ballylynch Adventure) also posting a clear round, and Joseph Murphy having just one fence down on each of his two rides.
The final day didn’t go quite to plan for Jesse Campbell and Kaapachino, the horse jumping round a bit by braille to rattle several fences and have four down. Sam Griffiths was definitely looking to help his chances with the selectors after Paulank Brockaugh’s mistake cross-country yesterday, and his smooth, confident show jumping clear must surely have put him in the frame for Rio.
The first of the French riders to go, Camille Lejeune, jumped a very forward clear with R’du Temps Bliniere, setting the standard for his countrymen. Laura Collett, who only added time penalties to her dressage score yesterday, was another to give the selectors a headache by jumping a lovely clear round. Zara Tindall, meanwhile, couldn’t quite pull off the clear round she was hoping for with two down. However, she has now cemented her Olympic qualification, and the combination’s record puts pressure on the other Brits to perform if they want to secure their ticket to Rio. Francis Whittington was another with two down, when Hasty Imp just got a bit flat to a couple of fences.
The biggest cheer of the morning was saved for Ben Hobday and Mulrys Error. If the crowd were pleased to see them come into the arena, the horse certainly thought he’d won when they jumped the last fence and posted a clear round. The stands erupted into applause, and Ben punched the air in delight.
The afternoon was what it was all about though, with packed stands hoping to see history made by Michael Jung, who if he pulled it off would not only become the first German ever to win Badminton, but the second person ever to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing.
However, with twenty to jump before him, the results were far from a foregone conclusion, especially since only one rail covered places 2-11. First in to start off the afternoon session was Ben Way on Galley Light. After a polished and professional looking cross country round where they finished just one second over the optimum time, the pair pulled a clean show jumping round out of the bag. Beanie Sturgis was another who impressed yesterday, managing to finish inside the time on Lebowski despite taking a long route, and they too put the pressure on with a clear show jumping round.
The French riders Rodolphe Scherer (Makara de Montiege), Pascal Leroy (Minos de Petra), Jean Teulere (Matelot Du Grand Val), Gwendolen Fer (Romantic Love) and Astier Nicholas (Quickly du Buguet) all had poles which dropped them down the order, Astier finishing best of the French in 14th. If they want to be in the running for a medal this summer in Rio then they need to improve on this phase quite considerably.
Camilla Speirs (Portersize Just a Jiff) and Tina Cook (Star Witness) were the next to put the pressure on with neat clear rounds, but seven further horses went before we saw another clear. This was provided by Balmoral Sensation and Clarke Johnstone, who’ll be hoping that 5th place at Badminton is enough to book his place on the New Zealand team for Rio. The top five riders all rose to the pressure admirably, though Jock Paget just made up too much distance between fences 4 and 5 to have one down, dropping him to eventual 6th. The New Zealand team is looking particularly strong for the Olympics, with four riders in the top ten, all clear cross country, and two clear showjumping (Mark Todd and Clarke Johnstone), the others only having one rail apiece.
The tension in the air was evident as we moved into the top three. Gemma Tattersall and Arctic Soul never looked in danger of touching a pole, and really put the pressure on Andreas Ostholt with a beautiful clear round. Andreas and So Is Et perhaps didn’t do the smoothest round we saw, but despite rubbing a couple of poles, they all remained in the cups. Gemma must surely have booked her ticket to Rio after her performances at last year’s Burghley, the European Championships and now this performance at Badminton.
And so we came to the final rider. Really, the result was never in doubt, especially since they had two fences in hand. From the moment they cantered to the first fence, it was obvious that Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam were in total harmony. Having given us a masterclass in both the dressage and the cross country, they continued to wow the crowds, posting an immaculate clear round to ride into the record books. Not only is Michael the first German ever to win Badminton, he did it on the lowest ever finishing score. This also completed the final leg of his Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing challenge. To win the Grand Slam at all is impressive, but to do it in such fine style and with a ten penalty margin is something we likely won’t see again for a long time. Unless, of course, Michael starts again at Burghley…
Final Top Ten:
|LA BIOSTHETIQUE – SAM FBW||Michael Jung (GER)||34.4||1|
|SO IS ET||Andreas Ostholt (GER)||43.4||2|
|ARCTIC SOUL||Gemma Tattersall (GBR)||44.6||3|
|LEONIDAS II||Mark Todd (NZL)||44.8||4|
|BALMORAL SENSATION||Clarke Johnstone (NZL)||45.6||5|
|CLIFTON LUSH||Jonathan Paget (NZL)||49.2||6|
|STAR WITNESS||Kristina Cook (GBR)||49.7||7|
|ALLERCOMBE ELLIE||Izzy Taylor (GBR)||50.4||8|
|PORTERSIZE JUST A JIFF||Camilla Speirs (IRL)||50.7||9|
|CLASSIC MOET||Jonelle Price (NZL)||51.3||10|
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