There were a lot of clear rounds, which was good for spectators and good for the sport
Lucinda Fredericks, who won the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials title in 2007, shares her thoughts on today’s cross country.
“This year’s course made you want to get out there and get stuck in; last year’s had the opposite effect. It’s easy to comment on a course when you’re not riding it, but I think Giuseppe [Della Chiesa, the course-designer] did a good job. There were a lot of clear rounds, which was good for spectators and good for the sport. All the talk was of the course being softer than 12 months ago, but I don’t think that was a bad thing after last year and it still took a lot of jumping and a lot of precision to get home under the time.
“There were a lot more let-up fences this year than last, which there needed to be, and the intensity of the efforts around the course, especially around the Vicarage Ditch area, gave riders a chance to get their horses confident again. There were a couple of places where the fences could be made more influential by simply tweaking the numbering. At the Sense Silver Birch oxers [fences 25ab and 26], for example, by making the final element ‘c’ instead of a separate number, you would have forced riders to commit to taking a straighter line, rather than playing safe and circling.
“The stats were good, though; a lot of the problems were unseated riders and silly 20 penalties here and there, which is what you want, as opposed to more serious horse falls.
“There were very few problems until the Lake, but spectators there got value for money with several dunkings throughout the day. Interestingly, the bending lines through the Lake were very similar to the fences I jumped in 2007 when I won on Headley Britannia. The turn from the wave into the Lake to the step out gave riders an option – and when you give riders an option there is a greater margin for error, which is what we saw today.
“I thought there were some brilliant rounds, especially from the big boys, but the person I was most thrilled for was Pippa Funnell. There’s always a certain amount of pressure on you when you’ve won here before and I thought she rode two cracking rounds. She’s had a bit of bad luck here in the past and to see her so happy at the end of her second ride was an absolute joy.”