We used to go to Badminton every year but haven’t managed it for the past few. However, Badminton weekend is still very special for us and we always make sure to watch as much of it as we can.
I so much appreciate the live stream on the Badminton website – I got to watch the first trot up after work on Wednesday and my breaks on Thursday and Friday were spent cooped up in the staff room with the dressage. It never gets shown on television so it was wonderful to be able to watch it. Oliver Townend’s record score made it extra exciting too!
I rode both my own ponies on Saturday morning (listening to Radio Badminton as I did so!) before making my way inside to settle down for the cross country. This is obviously the big draw of eventing and is always very exciting but this year I knew it would be even more so – the new dressage scoring meant that the scores were tight and time penalties were going to be very influential.
I thought Eric Winter’s cross country course was brilliant. There were lots of difficult questions which caused problems for the riders without too many falls. It was wonderful to watch and the riders seemed to like it as well – they were all commenting on how great the course was and that the going was perfect. I was particularly taken with the Nyetimber Heights, Shogun Sports Hollow and Outlander PHEV Bank combinations which at first glance looked impossible but mostly rode very well. It was a fantastic day of sport and I was glued to the television.
This morning I was up bright and early to see to the ponies before the final trot up. We always make ourselves the same picnic breakfast we would have had if we were actually at the event and it was a lovely, leisurely way to start our Sunday. My sister came round to ride and, feeling inspired, we did some jumping of our own. It wasn’t quite up to Badminton standard but we had fun!
Today’s show jumping was nail biting, especially when we got to the final few riders. I couldn’t decide who I wanted to win – I am a huge fan of both Piggy French and Oliver Townend. I really wanted Piggy to win her first five star but for Oliver to claim the second leg of the Rolex Grand Slam would also be great. Either way, I was thrilled with Piggy’s clear round – it meant we had a British winner.
Oliver Townend had one fence down but he could afford that as well as a couple of seconds over the time. Even as he cleared the last fence we thought he had won – I think everyone did – but the clock ticked over just enough to drop him behind Piggy French. I was so disappointed for him but absolutely delighted for Piggy. She definitely deserved a win.
It has been a wonderful, if somewhat lazy, weekend. It’s a shame it has to end!