It was tense until the final moment as William Fox-Pitt snuck in and took the top prize with Chilli Morning.
“It’s been a while since I won in 2004 with Tamarillo. That shows just how much has to go right on the day and building up to the event. Chilli hasn’t put a foot wrong this week but when someone like Andrew Nicholson is ahead of you it’s easy to think it’s all over as he very rarely goes wrong,” said William.
The winning rider was quick to attribute the success of Chilli Morning to Nick Gauntlett who rode him all the way to 3* level before handing the reins over.
“Nick deserves a lot of credit here. He had two of his own rides this week and is also responsible for Chilli and (Laura Collet’s ride) Grand Manoeuvre. I think that speaks volumes about Nick’s ability. Mary King rode Chilli for a little while but found him too big so she said to me have a ride and it was my lucky day, since then he has gone from strength to strength,” said William.
William was coy about Chilli’s future plans.
“He’s 15 now so we will see what happens. He will have a holiday and this is his last competition of the year. I would like him to go to Rio but we will have to see how he comes out next year,” said William.
The pressure mounted when, jumping from fourth, Ingrid Klimke’s Horseware Hale Bob left all the rails standing meaning that the top three had to go clear. Next to go was Oliver Townend with Armada who doesn’t have the best show jumping record despite finishing second here last year. When the chestnut gelding kicked out the first two fences, fence 7 and 9a it meant they slipped down the order and a German win started to look more likely.
“He’s normally number two in the string at home so he will have to have a chat with his stablemates about that. He has given his absolute best in all three phases and I couldn’t be happier with him. I have to say a huge thank you to Chris Bartle [the German team trainer] who has helped an unbelievable amount with him. He kept saying to me ‘Ingrid, you can do this’ and it helped me believe in myself. It’s my fourth time here but I will definitely be back,” said Ingrid.
The grandstand was silent as William Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning cantered into the arena. Team Fox-Pitt could be seen riding every stride with the 2004 champion and Chilli rubbed a couple of rails but none of them fell. The pressure was on Andrew and the three day leader, Nereo, to leave all the poles intact. When they spectacularly missed at fence 2 Andrew’s hopes of his first Badminton trophy were gone and William’s victory secured. Two other rails followed meaning that the Kiwi finished the competition in sixth place.
Andrew and Oliver’s rails meant that Jock Paget and Clifton Lush, who show jumped from fifth position, were promoted to a podium spot.
“I’ve had a good feeling about him all week but you never think it’s going to happen, I had hoped it would but you never know. He has given me his absolute maximum in each phase. Even if he had jumped clear we couldn’t have caught the top two so I couldn’t be happier with him,” said Jock.
Earlier in the day as the lower placed riders took to the arena, poles were flying and it wasn’t until eleventh to go Georgie Spence (Wii Limbo) that all the poles were left in their cups. First timer Ben Way and Galley Light earned a huge cheer from the crowd as they completed their competition with 73.2.
The afternoon session carried on in the same vein until Nicola Wilson’s clear on One Two Many, who lay in 17th overnight, boosting them to seventh – a difference of £12,000 in prize money terms. It was a bad day in the office for Andrew Nicholson who show jumped his second ride Calico Joe from seventh place overnight but the gelding demolished five rails. Next in were Gemma Tattersall and Arctic Soul who knocked down an uncharacteristic three rails which allow Nicola to move up through the placings. Tim Price’s Ringwood Sky Boy also kicked out three rails to finish 15th. A classy round from Aoife Clark and Vaguely North with just four faults moved this pair from tenth overnight to wind up in eighth.
Excitement was building as Mark Todd entered the arena and Leonidas II was as determined as his rider not to touch a pole. As the great Kiwi landed after the last fence the crowd cheered wildly, the pair added just one time fault to their 47 overnight score which was enough to secure fourth.
“It’s a decent track and you need a careful jumper to leave the rails up. It was nice to ride Oloa this morning as I knew what I needed to do on Leonidas. I think a lot of this horse and hope he will be my Olympic horse next year,” said Mark.
Bettina Hoy was emotional as Designer 10 left up all bar one rail to finish on 48.4 meaning they would climb from eighth to fifth. It was a great day for the Irish contingent with Aoife Clark and Vaguely North knocking just one rail to finish in eighth while Michael Ryan’s Ballylynch Adventure clearing all the fences to take home ninth.
Last year’s winners Sam Griffiths and Paulank Brockagh completed the top ten after adding just four faults.
“She touched that rail so lightly I didn’t realise she had it down. I was about to punch the air when we crossed the line then realised we’d added four faults. Nevertheless she has been brilliant this week and I’m excited about her future,” said Sam.
For a list of the full results visit: http://www.badminton-horse.co.uk/index.php/final-results-2015/
So that’s it for another year. We’ll be posting more content from the last few days to help you get over the Badminton Blues so keep an eye on our website, but for now the countdown to Badminton 2016 begins… we can’t wait!
Report Natalie Clark
Photographs Courtesy of Dave Murray