BADMINTON BUILD UP …5 Minutes with Hugh Thomas

Hugh Thomas, Event Director of the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, talks about the emotion of Andrew Nicholson’s victory, the cancellation of traditional pre-Badminton events, checking the forecast and the challenges of getting the event set-up. 

 On Andrew Nicholson’s victory

 “I had honestly given up hope for him. I mean, 36 completions and he’s been at it since 1984. I think he was so charming afterwards as he just said when I first came here I thought this couldn’t be all that difficult to win and I eventually found out it was. It was a very popular moment and a very emotional win. And it’s good to see the old horse back again. I hear on the grapevine he is in good order so let’s hope for the best.”

On the challenges presented by the weather….

“It has been very tricky – everybody knows it has been one of the wettest. Things were very good in the autumn, and as far as the cross country was concerned, James Willis and his team did all the heavy lifting before Christmas. Once you have done that then you can do less damage so that worked well. But the last week or two with the tents and the grandstand are challenging – there is no question about it.”

On checking the forecast….

“I don’t really. Once bitten, twice shy! A few years ago, I relied on the forecast when I wanted it to rain and it didn’t. We go a few days at a time. I think the forecasts are really good for the week but beyond that we just hope for the best.”

On the number of preparation events being cancelled……

 “I think the riders are much more worried about the pre-runs than they need to be. Particularly for the more experienced horses. A few years ago, we had a really bad spring and a lot of pre-Badminton events were cancelled and the horses seemed to go just as well as ever. It wasn’t really a problem. I quite see that if you have a new combination coming here for the first time that it would be quite nice to have a bit more confidence from a couple of runs. But I’m not too bothered, although I am sorry for them.”

In memory of Mike Tucker

“It was a terrible blow to all of us. Badminton was a huge part of his life; he competed her many times with great success and then helped and commentated. He was due to come back and do more public-address commentary because the last 30 years he had been on the television so we hadn’t heard his tones on the cross country. And you were due to hear them this time. It’s with great sadness that we said goodbye to Mike.”