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Badminton May 2014

12-May-2014 11:48
in General
by Admin

Badminton 2014



Thursday - Cool Mountain felt fantastic in the warm-up and very relaxed which was pleasing as he does find Badminton very atmospheric.  Hounds speaking for their breakfast every morning does not help his situation!   However in the Arena he did not feel his best, making a couple of small errors and scoring 53, which was very disappointing.  The judges seemed to be prepared to give good marks on the first day which is encouraging, and his placing slipped down the line rapidly.

Friday - Parklane Hawk had also been feeling very much on his toes, the windy weather and cold conditions not helping his case.  However, by Friday afternoon he had settled very well and did a really good test to score 41.5 which left him in 7th place.  The best test he has ever done was mistake free and he felt very confident throughout.

Cross Country course
The cross country course was generally thought to be much bigger and braver than in previous years, proving a much stiffer test than we have been used to, although the ground was holding up well it was obviously going to be soft and very hard work for the horses, which inevitably added to the test.
I felt the first serious question came at fence 5: the Big Table.  Down a steep slope on 3 and 4 strides to two very big arrow heads.  The distances were long and the combination of narrowness, height with added birch and the drop, made it a very imposing combination.
The Owl Hole bank followed by the arrow head looked quite tricky.  The Vicarage Vee looked as airy and ugly as ever, and the Mirage Pond asked a serious test of accuracy and courage.
The fence I disliked most on my first walk was the logs and mound at 18.  It was a huge relief to the riders and horses when the B element was removed.  I felt the line from A to B was a very unfair question and would have resulted in very messy jumps.  I felt strongly that it was an unfair test as the question for the horses was unclear.
The last big test came at Huntsmans Close where there were two huge turning corners on inevitably very greasy ground.
So, after having overnight rain on the Friday and with Cool Mountain placed well out of the reckoning, his owner Tee and I decided it was best to save him for another day.  I therefore had all morning and afternoon to watch the course being ridden.  This was a fairly traumatic experience with the course causing untold trouble, only nine horses completed in the first two and half hours of competition.
I felt the course was fair but the conditions were undoubtedly a big reason behind the problems, with many horses not quite up for the challenge.  The time soon became clearly unachievable and the competition was wide open, which was causing quite a stir.
I was very confident that, if any horse could cope in these conditions Parklane Hawk, being such a good galloper, would manage really well.  He felt fantastic in the warm up and gave me a superb ride cross country, until falling at the fourth last.  He was galloping brilliantly and gave me no feeling of getting tired, and I could not understand why he simply misread the fence.  I was very relieved to see that he was OK after his fall, and he will now have a good holiday, hopefully returning to work soon.
No-one would have imagined the troubles the course challenged.  Setting out in the start box statistics would've said I had a 1:2 chance of coming through the finish, and although I felt very confident, I can safely say I have never been in that position before.  The overall feeling is that no-one would wish to see the course changed, the challenge was welcomed and with better conditions would have ridden very well.
It was a fantastic win for Sam Griffiths, a good friend and fellow Dorset man.  I cannot also fail to mention how amazing it was to see Harry Meade finish third after his horrendous injury to his elbows, no-one deserved that result more.
It must have been a very demanding week for Hugh Thomas, Jane Tuckwell and their Badminton team.  But huge congratulations to them for what they achieved battling the elements.
We had a Fox-Pitt Eventing Club course walk on the Friday lunchtime, with an impressive turnout of over 80 people.  It was very enjoyable with much enthusiasm and we happily managed to stay dry!

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© 2013 William Fox-Pitt. Photos copyright of William Murray in partnership with Fox-Pitt Eventing. With contributions from Kit Houghton, Fiona Scott-Maxwell, Julia Shearwood, Gavin Hudspith, Ian Loveland & Adam Fanthorpe.

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