Caroline Powell won her first ever MARS Badminton Horse Trials title this afternoon (Sunday 12 May), after showjumping clear on Greenacres Special Cavalier. New Zealand’s hopes had been pinned on two-phase leader Tim Price, but it was his compatriot who delivered, bringing the five-star event to a sensational conclusion.

Caroline entered the main arena lying sixth, but quietly moved up the leaderboard as showjumps fell for the last five riders to go in the reverse-order final phase. These included Tim, whose hopes were dashed when Vitali hit five fences — Tim riding without stirrups over the last two showjumps.

“I wasn’t ready for that,” confessed Caroline, for whom this is a 16th Badminton completion. “I said third [place] at the start of the afternoon — but to win! I can’t believe it, it’s so awesome.”

Ireland’s Lucy Latta and RCF Patron Saint had two showjumps down, which was good enough to secure the runner-up position — a spectacular feat for a one-horse rider who works full time as a brand manager for White Claw and who was making her five-star debut.

“What a week! It’s been incredible. To finish second is the cherry on top really,” said Lucy. “He’s come out of it fit and healthy. Lots of stuff to work on but I’m just thrilled with how he went this week and how he’s jumped. I think I’m going to have to call my boss and get tomorrow off. I hope she was watching!”

Huge climbs and big falls

Britain’s Alex Bragg finished on the same final score as Lucy — 45.2 — but a slower cross-country clear puts him third with Quindiva. It is a spectacular feat for both riders, as they were well down the order after dressage. Lucy’s impressive 44-place rise up the leaderboard was triggered by the fastest cross-country clear for 0.4 of a time-fault. Alex and Quindiva picked up 7.6 time-faults, but a clean sheet on the final day secured a podium finish — a mighty climb of 48 places from 51st after dressage.

William Fox-Pitt confirmed that this — his 26th Badminton completion — was his final ride at the Gloucestershire five-star. Lying second after cross-country with Grafennacht, it wasn’t quite the fairytale ending he deserved when the mare rolled six fences and dropped to 13th. “This is properly not my day. There’s no ifs and buts or maybes. It just wasn’t going to happen,” said a stoic William. “You know what, I’m 55 now and I’ve had a great time. I’m in one piece. I really think she wants some new bones on her back and I’ll be excited to watch. I won’t be coming back [to Badminton].”

There was disappointment for Ireland’s Sarah Ennis when Grantstown Jackson kicked out five showjumps, consequently dropping them from fifth to 17th. Swiss rider Felix Vogg and Cartania accrued 12 jumping faults to finish just outside the top 10, moving from 7th overnight to 11th in the final standings.

See the top 10 in images below

1st Caroline Powell and Greenacres Special Cavalier

Caroline Powell wins Badminton: Caroline is pictured clearing an oxer in the final showjumping phase

Greenacres Special Cavalier is an 11-year-old mare owned by Caroline and Chris and Michelle Mann. With Caroline, she finished sixth in the USA’s Maryland CCI5* at the end of last year and they were fifth at the French five-star, Pau, in 2022. Caroline’s previous best result at Badminton was fourth in 2008 on the great Lenamore, who carried her to victory at Burghley in 2010. Their long and successful career also included being a part of the bronze medal-winning team at the London Olympics in 2012.

“[To win Badminton] means so much,” said Caroline, who is from New Zealand and came to the UK in the 90s. “I’m not in my youth anymore and you start getting a bit slower. Just to get a horse to this stage is unbelievable, so to come here and win is a dream come true. I can’t even believe it.”

2nd Lucy Latta and RCA Patron Saint

At the age of 27, Lucy is one of the youngest in the field and this was both her and the horse’s debut at the very top level of eventing. She has produced ‘Paddy’ since BE100 level. Could this result have put her on the selectors’ radar ahead of this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris?

“I can dream,” smiled Lucy. “I would love to think so, but we’ll wait and see what happens. It’s both of our first five-star and it’s given me belief that we can hopefully go on and give a couple of other five-stars a crack.”

Lucy comes from a very successful horsey family. Her grandfather William Powell Harris competed at Badminton and Burghley in the early 1970s and was reserve for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. Her cousin Elizabeth Power has completed Badminton four times while her cousin Robert — Elizabeth’s brother — won the Grand National in 2007 on Silver Birch. Lucy herself is a former team medallist for Ireland at both Pony and Junior level. In fact, she was crowned the junior national champion in 2015 riding Cleo Ferro.

3rd Alex Bragg and Quindiva

Alex and the Roe family’s 14-year-old Quindiva started here last year but didn’t complete. They went on to finish fifth at Burghley in September.

“I wasn’t expecting to be called back again for a podium finish,” said Alex. “I was watching the showjumping and it’s like being at an auction. You’re standing there pretending nothing’s happening, but your heart is jumping out of your chest. Inside you’re thinking, ‘I want you to go clear, but also I’d like you to finish behind me’.

“[Finishing third] is more than special. We’re going to be living off this forever,” continued Alex, who is a qualified farrier and a father of three and lives in Somerset. “The Roe family are really invested in our yard. There’s always up and downs but we’ve really stuck together and they’ve earned this. They’ve probably owned event horses for 30 years. This is a magic result for them. I think we’re going to be celebrating a lot tonight.”

4th Emily King and Valmy Biats

This was a first Badminton completion for Emily, who has started here several times but not had the best luck, including falling off a couple of fences from home when well placed after dressage a few years ago. “I don’t normally get to speak to you after the cross-country and it’s great,” Emily told the press after the second phase.

With 15-year-old Valmy Biats, Emily finished eighth in the Pau CCI5* in 2022 and they have won the four-star short (CIC) at Thoresby for the last two years.

“His nickname is Grandad because he’s such a nice gentle horse to be around,” said Emily of the gelding who hit two showjumps on the last day. “He touched fence two and one through the treble, but he jumped so well generally. Just to finish is amazing.”

5th Tom Jackson and Capels Hollow Drift

This is Tom’s fifth Badminton completion and he matched the fifth placing he also won here on the same horse last year. The 13-year-old Capels Hollow Drift was bought by his owners Sarah Webb, Patricia Davenport and Milly Simmie as a foal and Tom has been riding him for eight years.

6th Jonelle Price and Grappa Nera

Jonelle and Grappa Nera won the Pau CCI5* in France in 2022. It is a first visit to Badminton for the KWPN mare, but Jonelle has been a regular on the starting list for 20 years, including winning with Classic Moet in 2018.

“Speed was always going to be a bit of an unknown [on the cross-country] as Badminton was a big step up for her, but she came home feeling really well,” said Jonelle of the 13-year-old mare who ended the cross-country phase with 10.8 time-faults to add and knocked down one showjump in the final phase.

7th Tom Rowland on Dreamliner

The 17hh Dreamliner was bred by his owners Angela and Mark Chamberlayne and finished fifth at Blenheim last year with Cirencester-based Tom, 33, in the saddle. The grey gelding by Jumbo is a former ride of Oliver Townend’s.

8th Tim Price on Vitali

Tim was poised to add a first Badminton title to his long career when he topped the leaderboard after cross-country, but it wasn’t to be. Showjumping has always been the nemesis of Vitali, who was seventh here last year, and five showjumps down was costly.

“That’s gonna hurt for a while because he has been going so well recently and we’ve been trying different things. He’s jumped four out of four clear rounds in the build up,” said Tim. “But you know what, he’s a class horse. He’s a true all round event horse, although he’s not shown that in all phases yet.

“He’s very different to ride on day three [after cross-country]. It’s tricky because you have to manage the horse and their stamina, but ultimately you want to go clear and fast [cross-country] to put yourself in content. He really thought on his feet [yesterday].”

9th Pippa Funnell on MCS Maverick

MCS Maverick is by Mill Law and owned by Nick and Sarah Ross. He was produced to four-star level by Helen Wilson, with Pippa taking on the ride in early 2023.

10th Bubby Upton on Cola

Bubby was visibly emotional after pulling off a clear showjumping round on Cola, the horse on whom she finished eighth here last year. Then last summer, Bubby had a fall on the flat while riding at home and broke several vertebrae, which required surgery and doctors were not sure if she would ever walk again, let alone ride.

“When I look back at the whole past eight months and keep it in perspective, what we’ve done this week is a win for us,” the 25-year-old British rider.

Images copyright: Photography by Shelley/Your Horse

View the full final leaderboard here

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