Mitsubishi Motors 25th year as sponsors of the Badminton Horse Trials has been marked by one of the strongest ever fields of competitors representing 12 nations.
The highlight is undoubtedly the return to top flight competition after serious injury last autumn of both William Fox-Pitt, last year’s winner who has entered Parklane Hawk who was fifth at the event in 2013 and won the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** in 2012, and Andrew Nicholson, who has entered Nereo and multiple Burghley winner Avebury following his winning return to the saddle at Aldon last weekend.
Germany’s Olympic, World and European Champion Michael Jung is lining up for a shot at the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing, bringing La Biosthetique Sam to Badminton. Michael was the winner at last year’s Burghley Horse Trials with this horse, and with one horse entered to compete at the Rolex Kentucky, should he win there he would be in line to complete the feat achieved by Pippa Funnell 13 years ago – so far the only rider to collect the prize since it was introduced in 1999.
Germany will also be represented by Ingrid Klimke, twice second at Badminton, Andreas Dibowski, Bettina Hoy and Andreas Ostholt.
Competition for the four places in the New Zealand Olympic team looks to be especially hot; Mark Todd has two rides (NZB Campino and Leonidas II), Blyth Tait returns after a 13 year absence with Xanthus III and Bear Necessity V whilst previous winner Jonathan Paget brings Clifton Promise and Clifton Lush. Husband and wife Tim and Jonelle Price will challenge these and Andrew Nicholson for places in Rio with Tim bringing Bango and Ringwood Sky Boy and Jonelle Classic Moet.
Notable British entries include former world champion Zara Tindall with her London Olympic and World Equestrian Games ride High Kingdom; previous winners Pippa Funnell (Redesigned, Billy Beware and Second Supreme) and Oliver Townend (Black Tie, Dromgurrihy Blue and Armada) as well as regular team members Tina Cook and Nicola Wilson and several riders with a real chance of earning a ticket to the Games such as Gemma Tattersall, Izzy Taylor and Laura Collett. Twenty five years after her mother Mary won the first Mitsubishi Motors Trophy, Emily King hopes to make her debut at Badminton with Brookleigh.
2016 also sees a strong American contingent headed by multiple medallist Phillip Dutton, who will be riding Indian Mill, Boyd Martin with a choice of four rides, Buck Davidson and Lynn Symansky.
As always the Irish will be out in force, with another husband and wife combination in Michael and Patricia Ryan, Aoife Clark, Joe Murphy and Camilla Spiers.
The Australians have always rated Badminton highly as a prelude to Olympic Games – they have two previous Mitsubishi Motors Trophy winners in Paul Tapner (Vanir Kamira) and Sam Griffiths (Paulank Brockagh and Happy Times) together with Christopher Burton (and Haruzac) and Bill Levett (Improvise).
Once more there are more riders wanting to compete at the 2016 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials than can be accommodated so 85 horses have been accepted and the rest are on a Waiting List. The Waiting List includes Alice Dunsden and Fernhill Present who are seeking to become the first person to complete all six of the world’s CCI**** competitions on the same horse.