Tag Archives: Badminton Horse Trials

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Horse Scout Real: Emily King

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Horse Scout catches up with eventing advocate Emily King to find out her thoughts on the UK’s most prestigious three day event – Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.

 

Why is Badminton such a special event to you?

I have been to Badminton nearly every year since I was young with my mum, and for me, it’s the biggest and best event in the world.

What is your most memorable moment at Badminton?

Competing for my first time there on Brookleigh in 2016. We lay 2nd after dressage but unfortunately had a fall at the second last on the cross country!

What is your top Cross Country tip?

Stay on the tightest line possible, sometimes going slower can get a tighter line and thus making you faster.

What is your top Show Jumping tip?

Rhythm, power, balance. Three very vital words!

What is your top Dressage tip?

Stay cool, calm and concentrate on all of the small things – every corner, every transition, how you’re sitting. This influences everything.

What are your thoughts on the 2019 Badminton Cross Country course? 

It appears a tough, bold, rider testing course. The lake is always so imposing, so I’m sure that’ll cause it’s fair share of problems. Then the corner ditch, corner, (where the vicarage vee was last year) – I think that’ll catch a few horses and riders out this year.

How is Dargun feeling?

Dre’s feeling great! He’s had a couple of good prep runs this spring at Belton & Burnham Market, where he’s been on top form. He feels extremely fit and well, so everything crossed!!

Horse Scout is thrilled to have you as the Eventing brand ‘Face’ of the Horse Scout Collection. Which product do you believe you’ll get the most wear from?

It’s hard to say! But I think I love the Jin Stirrups and Horse Scout Ears the most of all. The stirrups due to their durability and grip, the ears due to their comfort and their thicker material which is fantastic for helping to cancel out any excess noise for the horses.

Will you be using Horse Scout Jin Stirrup irons at Badminton this year?

Yes I will, on all of my saddles! They’re super lightweight, grippy and most of all they’re extremely strong.

What is your aim for Badminton 2019?

I’d just love to come home knowing myself and Dre have tried our hardest. I’d obviously love to have a top result, but with it being his first thing at this level you have to be open minded… so the main thing for me is for him to come home safe and sound having had a wonderful time.

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Horse Scout Real: Joseph Murphy

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Horse Scout catches up with eventing advocate Joseph Murphy to find out his thoughts on the UK’s most prestigious three day event.

Why is Badminton such a special event to you?

For me Badminton is the top of the sport of Eventing . Everyone in the world wants to ride there but when you get there the occasion is as big as the course itself. You need to be on your A game!

What is your most memorable moment there?

My most memorable moment was the first time I walked through the Badminton stable arch on Electric Cruise Cross Country day. The atmosphere just hit me. It was unbelievable, I knew then it was a big day.

What is your top Cross Country tip?

I have made a lot of mistakes in this phase, and they for sure have shaped my Cross Country riding. Riding in point-to-points helped me ride at speed, but Ginny Elliot really broke down the technical side of the Cross Country in my earlier 4 star years and made me understand that each type of fence had a particular way of riding it.

What is your top Show Jumping tip?

The show jumping phase has not always been a strong phase for me, but working with Ian Fearon for so many years has definitely made this phase more consistent. He always says “Joe on Sunday now you need to turn into a show jumping rider“. I never forget it!

What is your top Dressage tip?

This phase I struggle a little more with than the others, but I always seem to pick jumpers to ride and as a result the dressage can be bit more difficult.

Any horses I buy now have to have the temperament to do this phase. I am determined to turn the tables! At the moment, the advice to myself is appreciate the horses I have and get the best from them, but in the future try and put myself in a better position to be more competitive after the dressage.

What are your thoughts on the 2019 Badminton Cross Country course? 

Badminton is Badminton and it’s never easy which is to be expected. What will play the biggest part come closer to the weekend is the weather. All the horses and riders are the top drawer of the sport, and the riders will all question different fences relative to what they’re riding. Jumping into the Lake is a big thrill!

How is Sportsfield Othello feeling?

He’s a fabulous horse with great heart – he feels fantastic! He had his final run on Saturday in an Advanced at Whittington Manor and was great! Running this close to a big event like Badminton has its risks, but also going to Badminton not prepared properly is an even bigger one for me.

Horse Scout is thrilled to have you as the Eventing brand ‘Face’ of the Horse Scout Collection. Which product do you believe you’ll get the most wear from?

The Horse Scout ears are a favourite of mine, they literally blend with any colour of horse. They are very stylish but most importantly the design of them helps Sportsfield Othello in the big atmosphere to keep the noise at bay and help him concentrate.

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BADMINTON CROSS COUNTRY… REVISITING THE PAST

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Welcome to the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials 

Wed 1st- Sun 5th May 2019

 

This week Horse Scout got a sneak peek at the cross-country course for the 70thedition of Badminton Horse Trials. “It feels like something we might have seen 25 years ago” was how Hugh Thomas described it. Big open ditches, making full use of the lips, dips, mounds, general topography and natural features of this beautiful park. This is a course that retains that “ride on your wits” cross-country feel which it has once again become famed for in recent years.

 

Eric Winter is now in his third year as course designer of Badminton and his philosophy in course design has remained the same throughout. “My aim is to put to the test, the relationship between horse and rider and the training of the horse.”

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The course runs clockwise around the park this year. As always, riders will start in the main arena before heading out to the Staircase fence- a sizeable log parallel down the two stone steps and a tight left turn to another log parallel. “It is an open start to the course to allow riders to get into a rhythm. Unlike last year where there were some early challenges, I didn’t want to break the rhythm early.”

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Things start to get pretty serious by fence 10- The Shogun Sport Hollow. After a long gallop which could be influential before a particularly technical fence, there is a funneling pagoda to direct riders to a narrow coffin ditch which is eerily, even the shape of a coffin, and a left or right choice of chunky, narrow tree trunks out. This is where the new FEI red flag rule could come into play. Where riders will be penalized 15 penalties if the whole horse does not pass between red and white flags- so that is shoulders as well as hindquarters. A rule which has not been well received by leading riders, course designers and officials… who shall remain nameless!

 

Fence 11 and 12 is the massive KBIS Bridge over the infamous Vicarage Ditch. The double numbering allows for a two jump escape route. The next fence has been used in some form at Badminton since 1949 and this year involves the notorious bank followed by a narrow brush roll top.

 

The Rolex Grand Slam Trakehner follows. Whilst impressive to the spectator, it’s big log over gaping ditch should not cause too many problems at this level. Then on to the Hildon Water Pond at 15ab which is perhaps a little softer than previous years with a big drop in before turning to a log trough in the water. Eric describes this as a run and jump fence and a bit of a let up before another tricky part of the course. Possibly an opportunity to make up time, although Eric pointed out that in the last two years of running, not one combination of horse and rider had finished on their dressage score.

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The Vicarage Ditch to the Mirage Water at 17abc and 18 is possibly one of the greatest challenges on course. An enormous right-angled corner is proceeded by an open ditch situated on a dip in the bank which will definitely unsettle some horses. Then a level four strides to another fearsome corner fence. “This is the sort of fence you would see 40 years ago- we could see all sorts of jumps over the ditch which adds to the unpredictability of the course,” Eric says.

 

There is no let up just yet and 19ab, the Nyetimber Heights involves a steep slope to an airy brush on top of a mound. Before plummeting down into the dip and up for a choice of four narrow scrubbing brush skinnies.

 

Finally, there is a course let-up fence at 20 before rider head on to three asymmetric corners in a row at the YoungMinds Brushes. YoungMinds- who help young people with mental illness and struggles is the chosen charity at this year’s event.

 

Fence 24 is an impressive affair to give riders their first taste of the infamous Badminton Lake. The jump is basically a large parallel but the design, with a pump station extending over the Lake to create a waterfall effect, which might unsettle some horses. Especially when added to the considerable crowd that always flock to the Lake. The brush fence in has been pulled back so riders land on grass before entering the Lake, then a step up and the iconic Mitsubishi pick-ups which this year have a trailer attached with dome-shaped spruce which is the part jumped by riders and horses.

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The Lakeside spectators get value for money as riders double back to the Wadworth Lower Lake at 26, a triple bar approached through the water.  After an inviting hedge comes the Voltaire Design Huntsmans Close which involves a birch parallel to a birch spread corner on a right turn.

 

To avoid a flat out gallop Eric has the Eclipse Cross Chicane (29 ab), two open ditch brushes on a U bend out and in of the deer park before the HorseQuest Quarry (30 ab) looms. This is less complicated than in recent years. In over the stone wall to a drop then up and out over a second wall.

 

Even though we are nearly home, Badminton is no place for complacency and we have seen many a rider tip up in the final few fences. The Hayracks at 31ab a roll top spread to a roll top skinny, then fence 32 the Rolex Trunk which is a sculpted log.

 

Back into the arena is the Mitsubishi Final Mount at 33, a fence designed by a member of the public for a competition a few years ago, where riders jump a pair of sculpted wooden saddles.

 

As ever a good completion will be an exhilarating experience for both the old pros and especially for those whose first experience of Badminton this will be.

 

 

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LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE MARES AT THE LONGINES WORLDS BEST RACEHORSE AWARDS

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Just as women are changing the game in today’s world of sport, business and politics, you may have noticed that the “fairer sex” of the four-legged variety, are making headlines in the equine world. A number of leading mares have claimed world titles prestigious accolades recently. And at the end of last month, the winner of the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Awards was announced as Winx. The Australian flat race mare has won 29 consecutive stakes races including 22 Group 1s.

 

Winx is not the only mare to dominate the racing scene. The British thoroughbred Enable, who featured eighth in the 2018 Longines world rankings, has been one of the most dominant middle-distance horses in Europe for several years. Last year, after winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe for the second time she went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Making history in the process, as the first horse to achieve this feat.

 

2018 was also a great year for mares as well as girls in Equestrian sport. The 15-year-old mare Classic Moet, won Badminton under Jonelle Price- the first female rider to win in 11 years. Whilst show-jumper Simone Blum riding DSP Alice and Dressage stars, Isabel Werth on Bella Rose were individual winners the showjumping and dressage world titles at the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon.

 

But back to racing and the grand affair that I was lucky enough to be invited to. On Wednesday, January 23, Longines and its long-time partner the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA), hosted the 2018 Longines World’s Best Racehorse, World’s Best Horse Race and World’s best jockey ceremony in the Landmark Hotel, London. With an equal rating of 130, Winx and Cracksman were together declared the 2018 winners. Frankie Dettori celebrated the leading jockey award, a clear leader with the highest number of points. It was a French victory as the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe was chosen as the best horse race in the world.

 

For Winx, this was the third year in a row that the nine-year-old has won the award. In addition, she has been the highest rated filly/mare in the world since 2016 as well as the top-ranked turf horse. In 2018, her season culminated in her becoming the only horse in history to win the Ladbrokes Cox Plate four times. What is also significant about this tough mare, is her longevity in a sport which is rarely a long career for horses. Winx has consistently won over five seasons and is going into her sixth with no immediate plans to retire. Yet she has proved her versatility, speed, and staying power, by winning over a range of distances from 6 ½ furlongs (1300 metres) to 11 furlongs (2200 furlongs).

 

What is also unique, is that unlike many elite racehorses, Winx does not have a particularly long stride. Her stride was measured at 6.76 metres compared to 8.5 metres for other horses of similar calibre. Instead, her success has been attributed to a freakish stride rate that allows her to take 14 strides for every 5 seconds, compared to 12 for her rivals. According to Dr. Graeme Putt, who has studied the science of racehorse success, this is a unique advantage. “This means she can settle or accelerate at any time during a race.”

 

Winx was sold as a yearling for 230,000 Australian dollars (just under £128,000) at the 2013 Magic Millions Gold Coast sale. She has already amassed around A$23 million dollars (around £12.74 million) in prize money under trainer Chris Waller and her principal jockey Hugh Bowman. She is owned by Magic Bloodstock Racing, Richard Treweeke, and Debbie Kepitis. Most of her connections came over to collect the Longines prize and we were lucky enough to get an exclusive interview with Debbie Kepitis about the courageous mare who has changed their lives.

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HORSE SCOUT REAL: MARK TODD

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Undoubtedly one of the most prolific riders of all time, Horse Scout advocate Mark Todd has been competing at the top of the sport for nearly forty years. As well as winning Badminton four times and Burghley five times, Mark (aka “Toddy”) has competed at seven Olympic Games winning medals at five of those, including individual gold in Los Angeles (1984) and Seoul (1988). In 1978 he was part of New Zealand’s first three-day eventing team to contest a World Equestrian Games.

 

Toddy has competed at a number World Championships since, winning team golds in Stockholm (1990) and Rome (1998) and an individual silver in Rome. Despite this unprecedented and sustained success at the top of the sport, one prize has eluded the 62 year old. “I have never won an individual World Championship” he says. “If I retired tomorrow I could say I have had a very fortunate career and I have done way more than I ever imagined I could. But I am still competitive enough that I still strive to win the big ones- Burghley, Badminton and the World Equestrian Games.”

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With three horses qualified for the FEI World Equestrian Games, we will almost definitely see Toddy in the line up. But before the Games which take place next month (11-23rd September), he has a demanding schedule ahead.

 

“From now on it gets really busy. Although I have a smaller team of horses, it is pretty much every weekend. Burghley is the first major coming later this month.” He feels there is unfinished business here this year. “Having had what I thought was being in a good winning position last year, until near the end of the cross-country. I’d love to go and have another crack again” he says referring to his fall from Leonidas just a few fences from home.

 

“Then a few days after Burghley, we leave for WEG. At this stage I am not sure which horse I will be taking but I have Leonidas, Kilturbrid Rhapsody and McClaren qualified.”

 

Toddy will be one of the oldest riders at the Games but also the one with the most experience. He does not feel his age has affected him physically. “I don’t feel it’s any physically more demanding- except when you come off” he smiles. “I have been riding so long that I have that muscle memory. I keep myself fit and healthy.” However, he implies that his competitive drive is perhaps not what it used to be. “I still enjoy the competition but I don’t enjoy all the work involved quite like I used to.”

 

Beyond this year Toddy is undecided on what the future holds. “I would love to take McClaren to Badminton next year but I will see how I feel at the end of this year.  I have young horses coming on and I certainly haven’t made up my mind but if I won a medal at WEG, I might decide to leave it there.”

 

Horse Scout’s Ellie Kelly was talking to Mark whilst test-driving the full range of Land Rovers and Range Rovers in an off-road experience day at Rockingham Castle. Mark Todd is a Land Rover ambassador. Land Rover has been at the heart of equestrian sport for over 30 years. For more information visit  www.landrover.co.uk

To view Mark Todd’s profile click here.

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Ellie Kelly Horse Scout Media

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BADMINTON- The year of the legends

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BADMINTON- the year of the legends

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The Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials never fails to make a big splash in terms of gripping action and great moments. There’s a good reason it is one of the top five most attended sporting events in the UK and it is one of just a handful of equestrian events which is broadcast on national television these days. But what played out this year was nothing short of epic. It is fair to say that the tales thrown up at the 69th edition of Badminton, should probably go down in the history books.

 

It was a great year for the girls. Jonelle Price became the first female winner in 11 years with the evergreen mare Classic Moet, a talented and long-term coupling who have been knocking on the four star door for several years. The last female winner was in 2007 and another much loved female partnership of Lucinda Frederick and Headley Britannia had their day.

 

Jonelle’s win really emphasised the significance of a strong relationship between horse and rider. Speaking after her cross-country round she said: “I felt the pressure on the cross-country that she could go near the time but you just have to get out there and do your job and I know her so well. It’s a real partnership,” she explained. After scoring one of the few clear show-jumping rounds to secure her win, Jonelle summed up her emotions: “Being a CCI4* winner is an elite club to join and it’s been something that has eluded me for a while now, so to now join it – especially here at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials – is very, very special.”

 

The fact that Jonelle won one of the most hard-fought Badminton’s we have seen, just eight months after giving birth to her son, was not only an incredible feat but particularly inspiring for all women, girls and working mums, whether their biological ticks or not. When she was asked whether motherhood had made any difference to her mentality or the way she rode, Jonelle responded: “No, the only difference is that when I went to get on for cross-country, I had “Incey Wincey Spider” stuck in my head, so that was certainly a first.”

 

Classic Moet- a pure thoroughbred also became a mum last year (theoretically), in the shape of two embryo transfer fillies by the stallion, Upsilon.

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In addition, there were four female riders in the top ten this year and a female dominance we haven’t witnessed at the British four-stars for some time. Britain’s Ros Canter and Gemma Tattersall took 3rd and 4th spot respectively, two ladies who should surely be heading to Tryon for the FEI World Equestrian Games in September this year.

 

With an all-star cast on the entries list, there was inevitably going to be drama, masterful riding and great action. Eric Winter made his stamp on Badminton last year, with a big bold course, which caught more than half the field out that time. This year, the general consensus from riders was that the jumps were marginally kinder but still imposing and a true four star but with the added challenge of seriously holding ground conditions and the fact that many British based riders were lacking match practice after so many early season events were cancelled.

The wet winter and further rainfall on the preceding days had taken it’s toll. When the sun shone on the first two days, it worsened conditions further making the ground tacky and together with a warmer climate it was even more energy-sapping. The result was that no rider made it around the 4.2 mile course inside the time. Yet the 74 % completions and only one serious horse injury to report, made for a fairly happy Course Designer.

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We had three Horse Scout advocates competing: Giovanni Ugolotti, Joseph Murphy and Oliver Townend. All finished in the top 27 with a clear cross-country. Oliver was still on a high from his win at Kentucky and was hungry for the Rolex Grand Slam. He was named the new World Number One for the first time in his life. Despite some impressive performances with his two horses, he had to settle for runner up to Jonelle with Cooley SRS and fifth with Ballaghmor Class.

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Last year’s winner, Andrew Nicholson was never going to rest on his laurels and had saved Armada for the big occasion. Certainly fitting that he chose to retire his legendary and most noble steed at Badminton, in front of a teary eyed crowd. It was a poignant moment when he was led out of the arena, after a formidable 13 year career which included finishing in the top 12 at 10 four star events. As well as winning Pau four-star in 2012 and Badminton in 2017, with Andrew, Nereo was a mainstay of the New Zealand team for some time, winning team bronze and individual fourth at the London Olympics and individual and team bronze at the 2010 World Equestrian Games.

 

Emotions were raw by the time it came to Ben Hobday’s announcement that he was retiring crowd favourite Mulrys Error. The unorthodox eventer, who jumped a number of clears at four-star level and became affectionately known as “super cob” will now have a less demanding job of educating Ben’s stable jockeys. He may also be seen at some Eventing Grand Prix in the future.

 

Another “end to an era” looked like it was going to take place at Badminton, as Michael Jung was muttering something about retiring La Biothetique- Sam FBW (aka Sam) this year. The 18 year old has been quite simply the most successful eventer of all time, having won the World Championships, the European Championships, two Olympic gold medals and four out of his seven four star events, mostly finishing on his dressage score.

 

However, this year Badminton was not to be for the dynamic duo. One suspects Michi brought Sam to Badminton to win it and with an uncharacteristic two rails in the showjumping, he is unlikely to bow out with him just yet. Sam still looked like a five year old and was as spring-heeled as ever in difficult conditions, so it would be wonderful to see him at Burghley. Michi gave us an education in cross-country riding and Sam gave us one heart-stopping moment at the first corner jump into The Mound, when he left a leg, otherwise it was poetry in motion to watch.

 

We also said a final farewell to Mike Tucker, he stepped down from his BBC role last year but sadly succumbed to a heart-attack just months into his retirement. The “Voice of Equestrian” will be sorely missed. His communicated our equestrian sport with charm and wit. Mike often said the wrong thing but in this crazy age of political correctness, we loved him for his slight defiance.

 

I was there in my role as Assistant Producer for the BBC, which means I get to help make the Highlights Show, which goes out on the Sunday afternoon. I advise them on what should be covered in first place in our mini-documentary and do a number of off-cam interviews with riders. It means I really am in the thick of it and ensconced in the stables or riders lorry park for much of the week. Most of the BBC crew have never ridden a horse in their lives, which I think helps give another perspective, as we also have to educate and entertain the horse-ignorant as well as the avid enthusiast. This year, we all agreed was the best yet in terms of twists and turns, stories and fairy tale endings. Interviews with William Fox-Pitt, returning to Badminton for the first time since his serious brain injury in 2015 plus Andrew Nicholson, Piggy French and the blacksmith who had been the resident farrier at Badminton since 1953, left us all a bit emotional.

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Written by Ellie Kelly

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“It’s unjumpable!”: Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Course Preview

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“It’s unjumpable!”: Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Course Preview

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“I want to challenge the relationship between horse and rider, it is about knowing your horse and having that trust” says Badminton Course Designer Eric Winter. We happen to be stood on the landing side of the jump into Badminton’s iconic fence “The Lake” which is a drop of well over six foot.

 

Then as soon as riders have plummeted down from the sizable log, praying they don’t take a ducking in front of millions of ringside and TV viewers, they must take a sharp right pull to jump a box brush in the water and several strides later, tug right again to ascend a sharp bank to another box brush, this one on a dirty great angle. “It walks three but will probably ride four strides out of the water” says Eric “So it has the same unpredictability about it as last year.” Many riders and spectators were critical of Eric’s “unpredictability” in terms of uneven stride distance jumping out of The Lake last year, which claimed a significant number of jumping faults. Yet he argues “those who sat still were fine.”


Badminton Horse Trials has reclaimed much of it’s former status as the biggest cross-country in the world and this year’s course exemplifies that. Eric Winter is in his second year of designing. Despite a difficult start to the season in terms of horse preparation with so many events cancelled, Eric has not taken a soft approach to his course design.

 

In our Horse Scout interview, Eric picks out the fences he believes will cause the most challenges on our drive around the course:

 

This year, the course is anti-clockwise so Huntsman’s Close comes early at 6abc. It’s the second combination on course (first being The HorseQuest Quarry at 4ab) and involves jumping a big log which should be approached on a sharp angle, before quickly setting up for two extremely angled narrow logs, which give the word “skinny” a new meaning. The line and point of take off is made more confusing and cluttered by surrounding trees and the roots of the logs. That combined with hundreds of spectators and a few BBC cameras could leave a few of the greener combinations a bit “rabbit in the headlights”.

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“Huntsman’s Close is the first real challenge and a technical one. It’s about control and a real Showjumping question. Rider need an organised canter and to make their horses sit back and stay focused. This will suit the handy, pony type horses and whilst there is a long route, you should be taking the straight routes this early on to prepare your horse for later questions”.

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The Lake comes early at fence 9abc and if you’re going, this will be the best place to watch according to Eric. Not just because it is always full of drama but the viewing is excellent and there is the potential to see six fences from one grandstand. He admits that he last year’s design was a “learning curve” with a rail in as horses launched over the rail and struggled to make the turn out. This year’s log looks just as imposing, it should be more user-friendly as horse’s can “roll over it”.

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“The Lake is a control exercise but a different one to Huntsman’s for example. It is a more open distance, encouraging you to ride forwards to the distance.”

 

The Hildon New Pond is a real test of the senses with waterfalls incorporated into jumps, a big log pile followed by a sharp slope to a hanging log, with water running off it- the noise of the water is certainly audible. Then a sharp left turn up a steep bank to the angled brush oxer.”

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“The Pond is a real hunting question and how it rides depends a bit what you are sat on. Riders need to pop rather than launch in then find the energy through the sharp turn to the jump out. It’s another fence which really gets to the heart of the relationship between horse and rider, where you really have to know your horse and trust each other. It is energy sapping fence at fence 20, you still have a way to go.”

Written by Ellie Kelly

 

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TODD TALK: MAKING A MARK ON BADMINTON

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TODD TALK: MAKING A MARK ON BADMINTON

MITSUBISHI MOTORS BADMINTON HORSE TRIALS
Wed 2nd May- Sunday 6th May 2018
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Winning Badminton is the stuff of dreams for any event rider. So when Sir Mark Todd claimed the title on his first attempt in 1980, it was one of the greatest sporting achievements of any rider. Ellie Kelly caught up with the legendary event rider known as Toddy, to hear about his Badminton memories and his expectations for this year.

“It was a complete surprise and definitely one of the greatest highlights of my career. Badminton always had this huge reputation and the history of being the first major Three Day Event in England. I have been coming for years, it still stands apart from other events. Burghley is amazing but to me Badminton is extra special, maybe because I have such great memories.”

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Badminton is unique in terms of the stabling and event set up, competing horses reside in beautiful stately stables adjoining one of the most important Stately Houses in the country. All this adds to the sense of occasion for riders and represents the tradition and history which entwines Badminton Horse Trials. Toddy sums it up: “There is something magical about taking your horses into those stables. Even now when I arrive, I still have the same feeling I did the very first time. Riding out around Badminton Park and going to the cocktail party in Badminton House with the Duke is also pretty special.”

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Toddy has won Badminton four times now. The first in 1980 on Southern Comfort, with Andrew Nicholson as his groom. He then had to wait until 1994 to win again, this time on Horton Point who was a catch ride he sat on for the first time the week of the event. The following year he displayed another masterful display of horsemanship after steering Bertie Blunt around most of the cross-country course with just one stirrup, after his leather broke. The following year (1996) he won with the same horse.

In 2000 Toddy retired from the sport and returned to his homeland of New Zealand to train racehorses. But he made a return to eventing in 2008, aged 52 and moved back to the UK. Just three years later he won his fourth Badminton title on Land Vision, making him the oldest rider ever to win, on his 20th Badminton completion. “To come back and win after being away from the sport was a particular highlight” he says. But there have also been some low points. “There have been plenty of disappointments at Badminton but I think when I lost a horse there, it was one of the worst moments of my career. It was a horse called Face the Music, who had won Burghley the previous year. He just slipped on take off for a fence and broke his leg.”

This year, Toddy has two horses entered for Badminton and he has high hopes for both of them. He rides the 14 year old Leonidas, owned by Di Brunsden and Peter Cattell. This is a talented horse he has had a long and somewhat checkered career with and is just as capable of winning a championship as crashing out dramatically. “Leonidas is a funny horse. Gentle in the stable but sharp to ride. He is mostly reliable but can do some funny things. He tripped up the step at the last World Championships, then had a disaster in the Showjumping in Rio, costing us a medal and he led the dressage at Burghley, then threw himself on the ground in the cross-country” Toddy says with a smile. “But he has always done well at Badminton. He’s been fourth twice and fifth once so I hope this will be his year because we are both running out of time.”

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Kiltubrid Rhapsody is his other ride. Once advertised for sale on Horse Scout, this horse will be contesting only his second Four Star. The eleven year old Irish bred is owned by Nicky Ryan and Dr Elizabeth Donald and Toddy took over the ride at the end of 2016. He describes the 17 hand impressive grey as “a genuine horse who can jump and do a good test, so he wouldn’t be without a chance.”

This year is a championship year with the FEI World Equestrian
Games being held in Tryon in September. Top riders like Toddy have a point to prove to selectors at this year’s Badminton. “I am lucky because I have a number of horses who could be in contention for the Worlds. The Championships will be Three Star but we are expecting a tough course” he explains. “These two horses will be in the line-up and I hope to have NZB Campino back, as he is just having a rest after an operation to remove a bone spur. Then I also have McLaren- he’s younger and less experienced than the others but he’s just magic to ride.”

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Besides Badminton and the World Equestrian Games, Toddy’s plans include contesting the Event Rider Masters Series. “I want to target as many of those as I can this year. The Series deserves our support. ERM is putting decent money into the sport and giving eventing coverage to a worldwide audience.”

We are proud to include Sir Mark Todd as one of our loyal Horse Scout members. He has used the site to advertise horses. “ It is a great idea and provides a good service to users. Horse Scout has embraced the internet age which is of course, how the world works today ”he says.

What I couldn’t live without:
I use everything from the Mark Todd Collection and I only put my name to something that offers quality and value.

My horses are fed on Key Flow feeds. It is nutritionally the perfect balance for sports horses and innovative in it’s formula.

My owners. I have a number of long-standing owners who I am so lucky with. They are friends as well as supporters.

 

Written by Ellie Kelly

PREPARING FOR BADMINTON: EXCLUSIVE INSIGHT

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Horse Scout catches up with two of their sponsored riders, Joseph Murphy and Gubby Leech, to find out what the month prior to riding at Badminton involves.

 

Most event riders grow up dreaming of riding at the prestigious Badminton Horse Trials, based in the heart of the Cotswolds. It takes years, sometimes decades of training and hard graft to reach the required 4* level and earn those elusive FEI points to be applicable to enter.

Horse Scout asks two of their sponsored riders, Joseph Murphy and Gubby Leech to provide insight into the one month leading up to the big event.

 

The horse’s training

Joseph Murphy, Irish Olympic event rider, is entered to ride Sportsfield Othello, a 16 year old gelding by Ricardo Z and out of Moyview Lady and co-owned with the brilliantly supportive Alison Schmutz.

Joseph explained that the first two weeks of April are focused on reaching the horse’s fitness goals with a mixture of galloping and swimming to build cardiovascular fitness and stamina. He gallops ‘Frankie’ every 3rd and 5th day followed by a swim and always icing the legs afterwards to reduce inflammation and prevent injury. In fact, Joseph ices the legs of all his horses after they are ridden each day. This fortnight is a ‘scary time for injuries’ said Joseph, and when you would look to do any necessary veterinary work to ensure the horse is in optimal condition.

This intense fitness work will then taper right down and the last two weeks of April focus on technical training, practising dressage movements from the test, agility jumping and specific exercises to fine tune the horse.

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Gubby Leech, British 4* event rider, is entered on Antoinette Denham-Harding’s 12 year old ISH gelding Xavier, by Clover Echo and out of Knightfield Sally.

Gubby is based at the quiet and beautiful Clarendon Park Estate in Wiltshire. He does all his fitness training on the forgiving old turf in the grounds of the estate. There is a perfectly steep hill that Gubby does repetitions galloping up and letting Xavier rest on the way down. They do fitness work every four days and will have their last gallop on the Saturday before Badminton week, with a ‘pipe opener’ after dressage on the Friday afternoon. Gubby said ‘Xavier is a strong and electric horse’ so he puts a lot of work into him to keep the extra fizz to a minimum! The technical training involves weekly dressage training with Lizzie Murray throughout April and showjumping training with William Fox-Pitt. Xavier is a keen horse in the ring, sometimes making up too much ground in combinations. Practising grid exercises at home helps him to shorten his stride in doubles and trebles, especially if the course builder likes to use short distances.

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The horse’s well-being

Joseph will turn ‘Frankie’ out every day on his own so he can have a pick of grass, relax and feel the sun on his back. Joseph chooses not to put protective boots on when turning Frankie out because he tends to be sensible in the field and he would rather keep the legs cool. Regular massages and some physiotherapy throughout April also help get Frankie in the best physical condition possible.

Gubby entrusts the multi-skilled Sue Devereux to keep Xavier in good condition. Sue is an equine vet, chiropractor and acupuncturist who will treat Xavier 2-3 times this April using a variety of techniques. In the stable, Xavier wears a magnetic rug and magnetic boots to optimise blood flow and recovery. He is turned out ‘bootless’ from the time he is ridden in the morning until 8pm when the horses get late feeds. This turnout time helps Xavier chill out and unwind.

Feeding

Joseph is very intuitive and he judges visually and by the feel of the horses on whether their feed needs increasing or decreasing. He monitors each horse closely to ensure it is fed the right mix of hard feed, haylage and supplements. Joseph slightly increases the feed on Frankie’s hardest days of work. Two weeks before Badminton Frankie’s feed regime will be set and won’t change leading up to the event. Joseph uses top quality feeds, Mervue supplements and he brings his own haylage over to Badminton from his base in Northern Ireland.

Like Joseph, Gubby also uses quality supplements to support the nutritional requirements of his horses.  Gubby uses an organic lucerne which is soaked first and helps keep Xavier hydrated, in addition to using high quality linseed, a balancer and electrolytes. Xavier receives 3 feeds a day whilst having his weight, condition and energy closely monitored. He can very quickly go off his food at competitions so it is a fine art making sure he gets what he needs!

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Rider Fitness

Joseph rides all day long from the moment he wakes to the end of the day. He regularly competes 5 horses a day, even at Intermediate and Advanced level, meaning he is extremely fit from his time in the saddle. However, Joseph does extra core stability exercises to help improve his position, balance, core and overall fitness. He is following a 6 week core stability programme and he does the exercises before bed. Did you ever wonder what gives Andrew Nicholson, otherwise known as ‘Mr Stickability’ his amazingly secure seat? The answer is having a rock solid core.

Gubby is in the saddle riding horses back to back all day until the moment he gets home. Having two young children means most of his evening is spent overseeing bath-time and coaxing them to go to sleep! Gubby focuses on eating as healthy as possible, cutting out sugar and only has the occasional drink at special occasions, in order to maintain his perfect competition weight. His wife Sarah is an organic girl so the family gets fed very well!

 

Rider Mindset

Gubby has previously entered Badminton twice but sadly had to withdraw the horses before the event on both occasions. Combining this with a good Burghley experience in 2016 for this duo, Gubby feels ready. He is ‘in a good space, riding well and has a good partnership’ with his ride, Xavier.

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Increasingly, top athletes are using Sports Psychologists to help give them the competitive edge. People talk about ‘marginal gains’ and this simply means that if you have a group of athletes, in this case riders, who are all equally talented on paper with equally talented horses, the rider who wins is the person who performs best on the day. Good sleep and being well rested, thriving under pressure, feeling confident, and focusing only on your performance and not worrying about those around you, are all factors that determine a rider’s overall performance. Doing these things well can make all the difference.

Joseph works with Charlie Unwin, Olympic Performance Psychologist across five sports. Since working with Charlie at the start of 2017, Joseph has been out winning most weekends this season and has never looked better! The work with Charlie helps Joseph to focus on what matters most when it comes to performance and to successfully block out all other distractions.

Horse Scout would like to thank Joseph and Gubby for sharing some of their practises and we wish them the best of luck for May! We look forward to an exciting four days of competition and wait in anticipation to see the new cross country course designed by Eric Winter. Only one question remains- who will be holding the famous Badminton trophy come Sunday afternoon?

 

Are you a member of Horse Scout yet? Sign up now for FREE www.horsescout.com

 

 

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Talking to Aaron Millar – International Event Rider

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Aaron Millar, international event rider

The Dorset-based rider gives his tips on training young event horses and explains how he’s building up a stable of top horses after a tragic road accident in 2015.

You had a serious car crash in 2015, are you fully recovered and what are your main goals?

Yes, I’m lucky… I’m now concentrating on building up the business. I lost quite a few horses to other riders after the accident – you can’t expect owners to wait for you to recover but it’s also taught be to rejig the business and I now have shares in all the horses.

So how are you building the business back up?

I have someone in Ireland who sends horses over. Anything good enough to go to the very top we keep. Anything else we keep, produce and sell. The plan is to have a top string of horses at all levels and to achieve that I’ve set up a syndicate of owners. Sarah Wild, a lady who used to work on Wall Street, helped me create an amazing business plan to offer investors.

And you also offer a scheme, Affordable Eventing, whereby you don’t have to invest large amounts of money?

Yes, it’s aimed at people who love the sport but can’t afford to be an owner. You invest a monthly fee, get the similar benefits as if you were the owner, but instead you have an interest in four horses that run. You get a day a month at the yard watching them trained, free entry to all BE fixtures and a share of the profit if they’re sold.

Tell us about your main horse.

I have a good advanced horse Leonardo VIII (Leo) who I compete at 3 star and who I’ve produced since a four-year-old. He’s 13 (2003) out of a TB mare and Dutch stallion (Maximillian Voltucky). He’s a real character and loves his job. He’s done Blenheim, placed in advanced classes.

Tell us about your other horses.

I could have bought a couple of really good established horses with the money from investors, but then there’s the risk that if one goes lame, there’s only one running, so instead I’ve chosen four or five top five-year-olds.

They’ve got serious potential….William Fox Pitt asked to buy a couple but they’re not for sale unless I get offered a ridiculous price I can’t refuse!

Friendship VDL is a 16.3hh six-year old gelding by Azteca VDL. He’s had some good placings at BE100.

Galoping B is a 16.2hh five-year old gelding by Bustique with a couple of placings at BE100.

Gold Flush is a 16.2hh five year old mare by Andiamo. I went to see a three-year old after my accident and I saw her in the corner. She’d just come over from Holland and had probably been on a farm or something as she clearly hadn’t been handled very much and looked a bit like an RSPCA case. I’m not sure what is was, but I just saw something in her. I bought her and sent her to my parents to be turned out to chill out and get fat, then brought her on slowly. She’s gone out as a five-year-old and been placed every time.

So what do you look for in an event horse?

Around 60 per cent thoroughbred and something that has quality movement, jump and temperament. I’m looking for a couple more – they’re hard to find! At the lower levels the foreign horses look smart but they’re not always careful and get tired at a high level if they jump huge over every fence. They can also get bored if they’ve gone from the stable to the school from a four-year old. The Irish, however, go hunting, they gallop hills, jump ditches, learn where their feet are and how to look after themselves and conserve energy. The cross country phase is so important now as we saw recently in Rio.

What tips would you give others looking to buy an event horse

Temperament is vital – finding a horse loves its job and wants to do it.

Riders who want an advanced horse will of course need something that has a little sharpness and to be able to dig deep. By sharpness I don’t mean something that whips round… I mean alert, switched on and able to deal and learn from its mistakes.

Any Horses for sale now (August 2016)?

I have one that would make an ideal junior young rider. It will easily jump a two-star advanced but for me it behaves too well… it just doesn’t have that spark I’m looking for to go to the very top.

What’s the best horse you’ve produced?

I guess it was Allercombe Ellie whom I produced from a five-year-old up to three-star level. In 2014 she was selected for the World Games and for Rio with Izzy Taylor but unfortunately she never went as she was lame. Knowing I’ve produced a horse to that calibre is really exciting.

What horse will you never forget?

Stormstay (Henry) who took me to my first Badminton – we had a faultless round cross country. He also gave me two clear rounds at Burghley before I retired him.

Any tips for people training a young event horse?

If it’s a young horse then take it hunting. They learn how to conserve energy and really dig deep when they are tired. Fitness is vital for any event horse and they also need core strength so we do a lot of pole work on lunge. We have our show jumps and dressage arenas in a field – young horses move naturally forwards in a field, whereas in the school they’re often not in front of your leg. They tend to enjoy working much more if you go for a short hack first. You can generally tell a horse that goes from the box to the school and back.

Describe a typical working week for your young horses.

On a Monday they might be hacked then go in the school long and low.

We use a lot of raised trot poles on floor to help them strengthen their core and develop their trot, and canter poles to help their jumping.

On Tuesday they’re hacked then worked more ‘up together’ on the flat in the field or in dressage arena.

On Wednesday they’d jump – depending on the horse they might go through a grid in the school or jump in the field. They’ll also go for a canter afterwards.

Thursday is an easier day – they’ll be hacked or be lunged over poles.

Friday depends on whether they’re competing the next day. If they’re going to a show, they might have little pop over a jump or two, or work through a test.

All of our horses get time out religiously every day. My main aim is that I want them to enjoy their job and to be doing four star eventing at 13-14 years old.

What’s your goal?

To be at the stage I was before the accident. I want to get back to Badminton and Burghley but I’m not in a rush. I have some very nice young horses but I want a yard full of horses with a high value of £30k upwards. At the moment we make it work by selling horses at£15k-£20k. We need a couple more investors and horses.

Interview for Horse Scout by Sam Lewis

Follow Aaron Millar and keep up-to-date on his progress and the horses he has up for sale either through his profile page here or on our Horses for Sale pages by using these links.  We have also a blog about Aarons’ horses for sale. 

Zazou Snow by Concorde; Zazou Snow is connected by breeding to four other stallions advertised on our Stallions at stud pages

Aaron Millar also has a lovely young coloured horse April Shower for sale, to find out more link to his Horses for Sale page on the Horse Scout web site.