Tuesday, May 13, 2014
The 2014 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials proved a challenge to competitors
Event rider Sam Griffiths has been crowned 2014 winner of the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.
British-based Australian Sam climbed the leader board from 25th after the dressage to win the coveted trophy.
Sam’s one fence down on Paulank Brockagh, in a finale where not a single horse finished its showjumping round, scooped him his first Badminton win.
He said: “When I was a little boy I used to wait for the tapes of Badminton to arrive in Australia so that I could sit down and watch them.
“I used to dream about riding here, so to come and win is the culmination of that dream.”
Oliver Townend was the highest-placed British rider, climbing from 4th place overnight into 2nd, despite dislodging two rails on Armada in Sunday’s show jumping phase.
Olympic medallist Mary King, from Salcombe, near Sidmouth, retired Imperial Cavalier (Archie) from the competition during Saturday’s cross country phase after the gelding refused the second element of the Mirage Pond.
Mary exclusively told The Journal she would retire Archie at the end of the 2014 eventing season.
Badminton was his last major three-day event,” said Mary. “I will do some One Day Events with him this autumn to finish his career.
“When these great horses come to the end of their career you have to bite the bullet and accept it.”
Mary and Archie had the crowds on tenterhooks when the Olympic medal duo narrowly missed taking a tumble at the Outlander Bank owl hole.
Horse and rider drew audible gasps from the crowd when Mary nearly went over Archie’s head as the 16.2hh horse appeared to stop mid-way through the jump.
“I had been thrown forward onto his neck but he kindly kept his head up,” said Mary.
“He’s an older horse and a wise old man. After his upset with the owl hole he felt very polite and he lost his feistiness that he’s had in the past.
“I think he had switched off so when he stopped at fence 16 I had no hesitation than to raise my hand and give him a pat.
“I thought I wouldn’t ask any more of him. He’s done so much; so many huge courses in his life. He’s a proven cross country horse.
“When he tells me he’s not wanting to do it, it’s time for him to stop.”
The pair was high on the leader board overnight after Friday’s dressage phase.
Mary said Archie performed a ‘beautiful’ test, controlling his enthusiasm, and was ‘in the hunt’ for Saturday’s cross country phase, starting with 42 penalties.
She believed the sticky ground over the cross country course sapped Archie’s energy, holding him back.
“At the end of the day he’s an older horse. I am sure if it had been a couple of years ago he would have coped a bit better,” she said.
She said the decision to pull Archie up was taken ‘without hesitation’ after he stopped at the second part of fence 16 at the Mirage pond; a drop into water coming out over a narrow brush.
Mary said: “After he jumped immaculately around the first part of the course he started to feel one-paced.”
The new course, designed by Giuseppe della Chiesa, proved a challenge to competitors – with just 23 out of the 87 starters going clear, and no-one returning within the optimum time.
Mary said: “I have had some fantastic times at Badminton. I feel very sorry for the young riders that had things go wrong. It’s heartbreaking.”