Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Badminton 2012 – Just Who Is "Leading The Field"?

Andrew Nicholson & Mr. Cruise Control | My Favourite For Badminton 2012
The entry list for the 2012 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials was released a few days ago, and ever since almost every headline I’ve read has gone with “So-And-So Leads A Strong Field For Badminton, or words to that effect.

Michael Jung | Current World Champion
Personally, I think it would be very hard to call who is leading the field. Is it last year’s winner Toddy with Grass Valley, Former World Champion & Paparazzi favourite Zara Phillips, or current World Champion and Badminton virgin, Michael Jung?

So many on the entry list have a rightful claim to ‘lead’, and no doubt Hugh Thomas will once again tell us this is the strongest field he’s ever seen at Badminton – actually this year, he wouldn’t be far wrong.

Although this is something of a jinx event for Andrew Nicholson I think he really could have a live chance of grabbing the Mitsubishi Motors Trophy for the first time. Mr. Cruise Control is a horse I have followed closely ever since I saw the him stood in his stable at Andrew’s yard in February last year. This horse just oozes presence, has lovely paces and sailed around Pau CCI**** like a feather in a breeze. I go as far as saying this horse is as good as any on the circuit.

Here’s a quick run down of combinations I’ll be watching closely:

Pippa Funnell & Redesigned At Tweseldown
Pippa Funnell – Redesigned
Why: selected for WEG off of very little form, but well justified. Back in action after a year off. Pippa is one of the most expressive riders on the cross country, and of course the only rider to have won the Rolex Grand Slam

Piggy French – Jakarta
Why: Also gained well deserved WEG selection off of little form. One seriously talented horse, not to mention Piggy is the golden girl at the moment - lovely, talented, good looking, why wouldn’t you have her on your watch list?

Clayton Fredericks & Be My Guest

Clayton Fredericks – Be My Guest

Why: This is one crazy mare, not easy to ride, but whoa can this horse shift round the cross country and bust a few moves in the dressage.

Paul Tapner – Inonothing

Why: Well, he’s a previous winner here, back to form after a serious injury at WEG, and Paul is eager to prove their credentials for London 2012, also the only previous winner (horse) in the field.

Mark Todd – NZB Grass Valley

Why: In short because this Mark Todd, the man, the myth, the legend, plus last year’s winner. I’m also very interested to see how well this horse returns after injury – if he does go well, there’s bound to be a few people in the US kicking themselves about missed opportunities.

Francis Whittington
Francis Whittington – Sir Percival
Why: I think Francis is the new William Fox-Pitt. He’s perhaps just lacks the horse power, this horse however is a real contender.

Peter Atkins – Henry Jota Hampton
Why: This horse has something of a fan club, and ran pretty well at the WEG 2010 when Peter was summoned from the subs bench for Australia, as he is based on the east coast US, so I’m sure there’ll be big support for this horse come May.

The Germans – All Of Them:
Why: Simone Deitermann has lead the dressage before, is very capable, but had some misfortune at Badminton, WEG & Burghley. World Champion Micheal Jung is making his first trip to these shores, and is currently unstoppable. Andreas Dibowski, has come close a few times, and Bettina Hoy is just a wonderful rider.

Armada At Pau CCI**** With Andrew Nicholson
Oliver Townend – Armada
Why: Oliver would seem to have been keeping a low profile over the last few years, but make not mistake he is still on form, and this horse, borrowed from Andrew Nicholson, is one of my favourites to watch cross country.

Caroline Powell – Lenamore
Why: The most prolific event horse of all time, and at age 19 this is undoubtedly his last visit to Badminton – I wouldn’t miss it for the world!

James Robinson – Comanche
Why: What a fabulous horse, same age as Lenamore, with as many Badminton completions, although not as many points to his name. Nevertheless, this combination is a joy to watch.

This is a high-class field by anyone’s standards, so I’ll be tuned in to the action right throughout the event. Others worthy of special mention are; Jonelle Richards, Kitty King (love High Havoc), Emily Llewellyn, Mary King (Chilli Morning!), Tom McEwen, Lauren Shannon, Chris Bourton, Laura Collett, Andrew Hoy, Jean Teulere. Too many others to mention without listing the entire field, so take another look for yourself.

BADMINTON 2012 Accepted Entries

It’s going to be another cracking Badminton and perhaps it will be Andrew Nicholson’s year!

I can’t wait…….38 days and counting!

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