She led from the start of the competition on Michelle Saul’s 11-year-old Lordships Graffalo, a horse that has won the hearts of a cheerful Badminton crowd, who remained undaunted by the terrible weather on a historic coronation weekend.
“He’s an out-and-out event horse and it’s a privilege to have him in your life,” said Ros, 37, who was also ninth on Pencos Crown Jewel. “He has character in every pore and makes us laugh every day.
“I think I was at my calmest when I entered the arena, but it’s been a long day. He jumped a bit with his head in the air, but he wanted to clear the fences.”
With this victory, Ros becomes the fifth rider in history – and the third British woman, following in the distinguished footsteps of Lucinda Green and Ginny Eliot – to win both Badminton and the world championships, which she did in 2018.
Oliver Townend finished second on Karen Shuter, Angela Hislop and Val Ryan’s Ballaghmor Class, a 16-year-old horse with an extraordinary record of his own: he has never finished lower than fifth in a five-star event, winning two of them, Burghley and Kentucky, plus an Olympic gold medal in Tokyo.
“He’s unreal,” said Oliver. “He’s had too many second places – blame the jockey – but it’s a huge relief that he’s had yet another good result.”
Austin O’Connor slipped a place to third on the Salty Syndicate’s Colorado Blue, having hit two rails as opposed to Oliver’s one, but he is the first Irish rider in the top three since Jessica Harrington and Amoy in 1985.
“Naturally I’m a bit disappointed, but to be on the podium with two heroes – two of the best riders in the world – is pretty amazing,” he said. “The result is personally great for me, but I hope it will give Irish eventing a lift.”
Tom McEwen conjured a beautiful clear round on his Olympic team gold medallist Toledo de Kerser to rise to fourth place; Tom Jackson scored his best ever Badminton result, rising five places to fifth on his exciting ride Capels Hollow Drift; and Gemma Tattersall, who unluckily had the very last rail down, finished sixth on Jalapeno, the highest placed mare.
World number one Tim Price finished seventh for New Zealand on Vitali and Bubby Upton was eighth and highest placed under-25 rider on Cola. Three-time Badminton winner Pippa Funnell, who rode such a superb early cross-country round on Majas Hope, was 10th, and French first-timer Luc Chateau finished 11th on Viens du Mont, a rise of 26 places after dressage.
Ros Canter paid tribute to her team, especially her mother, Heather (“she keeps the wheel turning”) and trainer, Caroline Moore – and to the spectators. “Thank you for being such a great audience and for sticking it out in this miserable weather,” she said, although no amount of rain could dampen Badminton’s joy at such a worthy winner.