The countdown to Badminton 2012 has begun, with the publication of the entry list for this years Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials yesterday, on the Badminton website www.badminton-horse.co.uk, and it is as star studded as ever in this Olympic year. Once again, not all the aspiring riders have been able to be accommodated, but there is a Waiting List of 49 hopefuls after the usual 85 entries have been taken.
Twelve nations will be represented. Great British riders will be defending their home turf with twenty-eight riders contesting the coveted title. However the rider to watch is undoubtedly Germany’s Michael Jung, reigning World and European Champion, at Badminton for the first time, who brings Leopin FST. The horse with most international points at the top of the entries is Lenamore, looking for his first win and eighth completion under Caroline Powell from New Zealand.
No less than six previous winners of the prestigious horses trials are among those accepted. These include Mary King, the 2011 HSBC FEI Classics Series Champion; Pippa Funnell, the only Rolex Grand Slam winner; William Fox-Pitt, six times Burghley winner; Mark Todd, the 2011 Mitsubishi Motors champion and double Olympic gold medallist; Andrew Hoy, triple Olympic team gold medallist, back at Badminton after a short absence; and Oliver Townend, another who has done the Badminton and Burghley double.
Zara Phillips has a good chance of a top placing with her only ride, eleven-year-old High Kingdom ,while New Zealand rider Andrew Nicholson goes for his first win after a record thirty-two completions to date and former world champion Jean Teulere heads a strong French challenge.
The Irish are out in force with eleven riders accepted, no doubt eager to snatch one of their country’s three slots in the Olympic Games and for many riders this will be the last major chance to catch the selectors’ eye before the squads are announced for Greenwich. With very few riders from any nation being guaranteed an Olympic place, the tension is sure to last until the very last showjumping pole is cleared.
After the Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots Championships on Thursday 3rd May, the international event starts in earnest with two days of dressage on Friday and Saturday, followed by cross-country on Sunday 6th May and the climax in the main arena on Bank Holiday Monday 7th May.
Please click here to see the full list of entrants.