Laura Collett and London 52 cemented their place in the Badminton roll of honour when they pulled off a sensational clear round at Badminton Horse Trials, presented by Mars Equestrian, this afternoon (8 May).
The pair added a single time-fault to finish on 21.4 — setting a new record for the lowest-ever Badminton finishing score in the process.
“This is a childhood dream,” said the 32-year-old rider. “I remember coming here as a kid, sitting on my auntie’s shoulders and watching Pippa Funnell win on Supreme Rock. I wanted to be like Pippa winning at Badminton. I can’t believe I have now.”
“Thank you to the horse, he is absolutely phenomenal. This win is all down to him.”
Scroll down to see the top 10 in action and read their final thoughts
1 Laura Collett and London 52
“I’ve had a whirlwind 18 months,” said Laura, who dedicated this win to her mum, Tracey.
“London 52 is a horse of a lifetime. He’s done so much for me — I said on the way here he owes me nothing and then he does this.
“I’m the luckiest girl in the world. He just gets better and better. The best thing is he’s still young enough to come back and do it all again.”
2 Ros Canter and Lordships Graffalo
Ros said that Lordships Graffalo, a 10-year-old who was contesting his first CCI5* and finished on his dressage score of 26, had surpassed all expectations.
“I was questioning at the start of the week if it was the right decision to bring him here,” she confessed.
“On Tuesday we went for a hack and his eyes were everywhere. Before the dressage I would have been happy with two clean changes out of the four so to finish second is unbelievable.
“He’s learnt a lot over the last few days and there is lots to come,” continued Ros.
“He’s really enjoyed himself this weekend, particularly the prize-giving. He is an amazing horse and I have always thought that of him.”
3 Oliver Townend and Swallow Springs
Oliver and Swallow Springs’ rolled pole saw them slip from second overnight to third in the final standings.
“Swallow Springs is very professional. [Former rider] Andrew Nicholson has done a good job with him and we’ve had a good week,” said Oliver. “It’s great to see people again as the atmosphere has been unreal; I’ve really enjoyed it.
“When you ride Andrew Nicholson’s horses sometimes they make you look like Andrew Nicholson, especially coming out of the quarry — I’m now the new ‘Mr Stickability’,” added Oliver with a smile.
“I’ve been riding for Andrew on and off for 20 years now. I used to ride Mr Smiffy so we’ve known each other a very long time.”
4 Piggy March and Vanir Kamira
Piggy hailed her round aboard Vanir Kamira — the duo came here the defending champions — as “the best she’s ever jumped”, despite their fence down.
“She fell over the third warm-up fence — it was only like 90cm — and I think it’s the best thing she did,” said Piggy. “She’s always been like that; just when you think there’s absolutely no way, she says ‘I’m here mum’ and does her thing.
“I felt like I rode very hard for the majority of the course yesterday and she gave everything. I was a little worried today because I don’t want to expect too much of her after all she’s done for me and she was amazing.”
5 Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class
Oliver described his Tokyo team gold medallist Ballaghmor Class, who picked up 0.4 of a time-penalty here as well as four jumping faults to drop two places to fifth, as “hugely special”.
“I think it’s the third time on the trot that we’ve come to Badminton and had two in the top six. It’s good to have that consistency but hopefully I’ll get a turn again soon,” said Oliver.
6 David Doel and Galileo Nieuwmoed
A clear round from David, who was contesting his first Badminton, and Galileo Nieuwmoed triggered a five-place climb up the leaderboard to finish sixth.
“Wasn’t it mega?” said David after his round. “He’s been fantastic and the help and support I’ve had all week has been unreal.
“We made a couple of mistakes at Pau last year and we came out here and rectified it. It’s a hell of a buzz.”
7 Kitty King and Vendredi Biats
Kitty piloted Vendredi Biats into seventh with 1.2 time-faults to add.
“He jumped really well,” said Kitty. “He was a little spooky on the landings when he could hear the camera and I maybe didn’t give him the easiest round because I was a bit addy [with strides], but he didn’t always give me the easiest round yesterday, so I think we’re fair!
“I’m a little annoyed with myself because I held and added a few [strides] and he didn’t need them today, but he was great.”
8 Austin O’Connor and Colorado Blue
Ireland’s Austin and Colorado Blue lay 58th after dressage, but soared to an eighth-place finish courtesy of a double jumping clear and just 0.4 of a time penalty in the showjumping.
“He’s brilliant and I’m over the moon,” said Austin. “Like myself he’s getting bit older [the horse is 13] but I’m delighted to have him.”
9 Tamra Smith and Mai Baum
American rider Tamra Smith piloted Mai Baum into ninth. The duo occupied fifth place after dressage but picked up 11.2 time penalties on cross-country day, before recording a foot-perfect final phase.
“You never know what they’re going to do after a big track like that [yesterday], but the crowd lifted him and he boinged over the fences,” said Tamra.
“I need five more of these horses so that I can come back and have two horses [here] instead of one.”
10 Richard Jones and Alfies Clover
Another to make a meteoric rise up the leaderboard from 52nd after dressage was Richard, whose mount Alfies Clover jumped a double clear for just a handful of time-penalties.
“He jumped fantastic; we haven’t done a lot of shows in the spring so I think a big occasion like this he was fresh and it would be a bigger track than he was expecting,” said Richard.
“I haven’t got any other horses at this level and so it was probably a bit bigger than I was expecting too, but it was a fair track.”
William Fox-Pitt had two horses inside the top 10 after cross-country, but Little Fire slipped to 13th and Oratorio to 14th when both knocked down two fences each.
Photos: copyright Trevor Holt
Final top 10
1 Laura Collett (London 52) GBR 21,0,0,0.4 = 21.4
2 Ros Canter (Lordships Graffalo) GBR 26,0,0,0 = 26
3 Oliver Townend (Swallow Springs) GBR 25.7,0,0,4 = 29.7
4 Piggy March (Vanir Kamira) GBR 25.7,0,0.4,4 = 30.1
5 Oliver Townend (Ballaghmor Class) GBR 25.9,0,0,4.4 = 30.3
6 David Doel (Galileo Nieuwmoed) GBR 32.4,0,1.2,0 = 33.6
7 Kitty King (Vendredi Biats) GBR 24.8,0,8,1.2 = 34
8 Colorado Blue (Austin O’Connor) IRL 35.9,0,0,0.4 = 36.3
9 Tamra Smith (Mai Baum) USA 25.3,0,11.2,0 = 36.5
10 Richard Jones (Alfies Clover) GBR 34.8,0,2.8,0.8 = 38.4
(Penalty format: dressage, cross-country jumping, cross-country time, showjumping = total)
Click here to view the final leaderboard in full.