In the run up to the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, Eventing Worldwide profiles riders who are based a stone’s throw from the world famous event.
Harry Meade (Away Cruising)
Badminton Park is familiar territory for Harry. Not only does he live just a few miles down the road but he grew up as a member of the Beaufort Hunt Pony Club.
Meade made his Badminton debut in 2006 riding Midnight Dazzler, a horse which he had taken over from William Fox-Pitt. They finished 21st taking home the prize for Best First Time Rider, Best Under 25 Rider and Best Local Rider. They completed the event four times together.
Meade’s best finish come in 2014 when he finished 3rd with Wild Lone. It was a fairy tale result as Meade had only started riding again following a rotational fall the previous August which resulted in two fractured and dislocated elbows requiring re-constructive surgery.
Meade has completed the event 10 times, becoming the youngest person to receive an Armada Dish when it was presented to him in 2009. He is due to be presented with his second Armada Dish following his 10th completion of the event last yar.
Badminton is a special place for Meade for other reasons – he proposed to his wife Rosie during a course walk of Badminton in 2010.
Away Cruising is owned by Charlotte Opperman,. The 12-year-old Irish-bred grey gelding is by Cruise On (a son of Cruising) out of Parklands Princess by the thoroughbred Able Albert. Harry has ridden ‘Spot’ since he was a five-year-old bringing him up through the levels. The pair competed at CCI5*-L for the first time at Luhmuhlen in 2017 – finishing 14th. They have gone on to finish in the top 20 at their following three runs at this level – finishing 15th at Burghley in 2017, 16th at Badminton in 2018 and sixth at Burghley 2018.
Georgie Spence is one of 12 riders who will be competing two horses at this year’s competition. But eventing wasn’t Spence’s first passion. She first competed in show jumping until she was asked to be a member of her school’s eventing team. In 2004 she was reserve for the 2004 British European Pony team and decided to stick with eventing.
Spence made her Badminton debut at 19-years-old with Running Brook, and in 2009 was the only rider to complete the cross country with two horses inside the time. She has completed the event seven times, and was awarded her first Armada Dish is 2016. Last year she completed with both Wii Limbo (21st) and Halltown Harley (33rd) and she returns with both again this year.
Halltown Harley is a 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding. He is by the Irish-based Selle Francais sire Harlequin Du Carel. Harley was formerly ridden to three-star level by New Zealander Caroline Powell with Spence acquiring the ride in 2016. The pair were the winners of the Nations Cup in Wiener Neustadt, in Austria in 2017 – Spence’s first Nations Cup – and the horse made its debut at Badminton last year.
Wii Limbo is a Dutch-bred KWPN registered 16-year-old gelding. He is by Highline (a son of the thoroughbred Sit This One Out) out of a mare by Landwind II B (the sire of four-star horse Pardon Me). He was bought as an unbroken three-year-old and is the first horse that Georgie has produced from backing to the highest level of eventing.
Kitty King, whose mother Jane competed at Badminton herself, is based near Chippenham and last competed at Badminton in 2010.
King made her Badminton debut in 2005 with Five Boys when they finished seventh, also collecting the prize for Best Under 25. Later that year, after selection for the British team for the European Championships at Blenheim, she became the first rider to have represented Great Britain at Pony, Junior, Young Rider and Senior levels. King was a member of the British team that won silver at the European Championships in 2015, placing fourth individually with Persimmon – the highest placed British rider and represented Great Britain at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Ceylor LAN, owned by Diana Bown, Jacqueline Owen & Samantha Wilson, a 10-year-old Dutch-bred gelding owned by He is by Veron out of a mare by the leading KWPN jumping sire Ahorn. He was acquired as a four-year-old, winning the Five-Year-Old Burghley Young Event Horse final in 2012 as well as all three young horse age-group championships at Osberton as a five, six and seven-year-old.
Vendredi Biats owned by Diana Bown, Samantha Wilson, Sally Eyre and Sally Lloyd-Baker, is a 10-year-old French-bred gelding. He is by Winningmood Van de Arenberg and Liane Normande by Camelia de Ruelles. He started his eventing career with Padraig McCarthy but King took over the reins of the five-year-old in 2014.
Tom McEwen is based at Gatcombe in Gloucestershire, and was part of the Great British Gold medal winning team at last year’s World Equestrian Games.
Like King, McEwen has represented Great Britain at Pony, Junior, Young Rider level and Senior Level. In 2007 he was a member of the British team to win gold at the Pony European Championships with Dick Taytoe. Three years later he was a member of the British Young Rider team that won team gold at the European Championships in Pardubice. In 2011 he won another Young Rider European team gold at the Championships at Blair Castle. In 2013, McEwen received his first senior call-up for the European Championships in Malmo but Diesel was eliminated at the first horse inspection.
McEwen made his Badminton debut with Dry Old Party in 2013. The pair finished in 19th place and won the prizes for the Best Placed Rider under 25 and Best Newcomer. The following year he was the youngest rider to have qualified two horses for Badminton (Dry Old Party and Diesel). He has completed the event on five occasions and is due to be awarded with his first Armada Dish in 2019.
Toledo de Kerser is an 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding. He is by the World number one show jumping sire Diamant de Semilly out of a mare by the influential sire Papillon Rouge. He was produced as a five-year-old by Sammi Mcleod and Tom took the ride in 2013. Having finished 11th in 2017, the pair finished seventh last year.
Alicia Hawker is based just eight miles from Badminton and was a member of the Beaufort Hunt Pony Club.
Now 24, she first competed in affiliated eventing at the age of 13 and has successfully moved through the British Eventing Pony, Junior and Young Rider programmes. In 2017, Hawker was named the winner of the Mark Todd Bridging the Gap Scholarship. Alongside Eventing, Hawker gained a first-class degree in Sports Performance BSc (Hons) from the University of Bath.
Charles RR is an 11-year-old British-bred AES registered gelding. Bred by Peter Teasdale he is by the KWPN sire Verdi TN (a son of Quidam de Revel) out of a mare by the former showjumper Didi. He was bought by Alicia’s Grandfather as a five-year-old for Hawker and they made their debut at the event last year.
Becky Woolven (Wait List)
Becky Woolven is based near Tetbury and made her Badminton debut with Charlton Down Riverdance in 2017. Although clear cross-country Charlton Down Riverdance was withdrawn before the final show jumping.
Despite her parents attempts to sway her away from riding, by the age of 14 Woolven had her first taste of eventing on her 14.2 pony ‘Bluey’ whom she produced herself from a five-year-old. She progressed through the Pony Club and had several good results at the Pony Club Championships. Aged 17 Becky competed in her first affiliated event and four-years later at the age of 21 had produced her first horse to advanced level. In 2010 she made her first international appearance a winning one, claiming individual and team gold at the Student Riders Nations Cup (dressage and show jumping) in De Mortel and later that year won individual gold and team silver at the World University Equestrian Games in South Korea.
Charlton Down Riverdance, is a 13-year-old Irish-bred gelding. He is by Tullibards Shakespeare (sire of Paul Tapner’s former four-star horse Kilfinnie) out of Shady Queen by Captain Clover. In 2013 Charlton Down Riverdance was second at the Pony Club Championships and has been brought through the grades by Woolven.
Images Courtesy of Lorraine Porter Photography, Katie Neat Photography, Phil J Johnson