Thursday was the start of the 4* International Event, with the first day of dressage commencing. The day started as it ended to be honest, looking around the trade stands and watching lots of the dressage. I decided to not ride Sprite but give her lots of grass walks instead which I know she appreciated. We also ventured out and had a look at the 4* fences – wow! Isn’t our sport just wonderfully brilliant! Like fence 11/12, even the easier option of the open ditch gives me goosebumps. Likewise if I had a bank quarter of the size of fence 13!! It just amazes me what horse and rider do.
Thursday was also a very exciting day for me as I got to meet the lovely Piggy French again, as well as Kitty King and Pippa Funnell!!! They were doing an interview and signing at the Champion stand. Before I went I knew I wanted something personally signed so I asked them to sign my new Ventair Deluxe hat (did I mention it was pink!!) it now looks awesome with all 3 of them signing it. Hopefully it will bring me luck!
Piggy was so lovely like the first time I met her, I was pleasantly surprised how much she remembered of me and Sprite, even Sprite’s age! She asked how we got on during the week and made me feel so much better about our result. I enjoyed listening to Piggy over the Badminton radio where she was interviewing the riders as they finished their dressage tests. It was great to catch up with everyone from Champion, they made Tina and I feel very welcome and they all said how much they liked the Instagram posts!
I started Friday by taking Sprite for a nice long stroll around the fields near the stables; I was pleased that she was feeling her normal bubbly self. The stable block was still busy and plenty of horses still there with their riders obviously staying on to watch the rest of the main event. Day two of dressage kicked off and we watched many more of the tests. The overnight leader from dressage was Christopher Burton on 32.9, then Ingrid Klimke on 36.4 following in second place.
Cross Country day!! I again rode Sprite first thing and left her happily eating breakfast in her stable. We didn’t waste any time and got straight down to watch the first few riders warming up including Mark Todd and Alex Bragg. I like to walk the course backwards, not overly sure why but you then get to see the horses coming over the fence towards you. The day didn’t start particularly well, as we waited a long time between riders coming to the end of the course. It was proving to be a VERY tough track this year! We followed the course all the way round stopping at each fence and watching a couple of riders come through. I couldn’t believe the crowds of people that had turned up to watch, it was lovely seeing people stopping in front of the Badminton house to have a picnic or taking selfies at the Lake. We saw everything from run outs to falls to riders retiring. As I kept hearing on the commentary cross country isn’t about style, it’s just to get over the fences! Saying that I saw Michael Jung ride very confidently through the Corner combination at fence 21, he was one of only two that completed the course inside the time.
The end of the cross country day saw the end of my badminton week as we decided to pack up and head home to Cornwall. I suddenly was very excited to get in my own bed but sad that my week was over! We didn’t get home till about midnight, the A30 seemed to go on forever. I let Sprite straight out in the field with her bestie Lola who was very pleased to see her home.
It was nice to be home for Sunday as I got to catch up on the cross country I had missed. I did look out for us to see if we were on TV but sadly we never seemed to be in the right place at the right time. It then showed the final 10 show jumping and was such a nail biting finish!! Andrew Nicholson jumping a clear put all the pressure on the final two. Michael Jung jumped a lovey round but had 4 faults moving Andrew into 2nd place. All Andrew needed was for Ingrid to have a pole and he would take the win. Ingrid started lovely but sadly not the result she wanted. So Andrew took the win!! It was super exciting to watch!!
Massive well done to Andrew Nicholson! He has completed Badminton 37 times and never won, thoroughly deserved!!
What an amazing week!! I have created so many memories that I will treasure forever. I really hope I do get to go again but for now to look forward to the next thing – Riding Club Championships at Aston-Le-Walls.
Written by Emily Dunstan at EMD Eventing