Why this could be the most thrilling Badminton yet…
Over the weekend, MUSTO equestrian brand ambassador William Fox-Pitt competed at the Rolex Kentucky 3 day event. In true unpredictable fashion of eventing, this once again turned out to be a very exciting way to kick off the season. Kentucky, for you non-horsey people, is the first 4* event of the eventing calendar and forms part of the HSBC FEI Classics (a league of points with the end of year winner taking a cash sum prize for 1st place).
William ended the dressage phase with Chilli Morning sitting comfortably in 1st place and Seacookie in 10th. As William won Kentucky last year with Parklane Hawk, all eyes were on him to step up to the challenge again. In the Cross Country phase Seacookie went clear, giving William a good chance of a top 10 finish with him. Chilli Morning, stepped up to the start line, went out the box in true fighting spirit but then refused at the first water jump and had to retire. William had lost his 1st place spot. Luckily for him the course proved difficult for a lot of riders, accumulating time penalties and helping Seacookie to rise the table into 4th place.
The showjumping phase was nail biting as ever, with Andrew Nicholson sitting in 1st and 2nd and Bruce (Buck) Davidson sitting in 3rd. William rode first and went clear, with just a pole between him and Buck, things were close. Buck knocked two fences dropping him into 4th and William continued to rise the table. Andrew Nicholson stepped up with Calico Joe who also knocked fences, but Quimbo managed to jump clear and only gain 3 time faults giving him the clear win. William in an unlikely turn of events finished Kentucky in 2nd!
Badminton Horse Trials kicks off on Thursday with both William Fox-Pitt and Zara Phillips competing, however all eyes will be on William as he contends for the Rolex Grandslam. For those unfamiliar with the Grandslam, this consists of a rider (with any combination of horse), winning in succession the three premier CCI**** events (Kentucky, Badminton & Burghley) with a cash sum prize of $350,000. William won Burghley in 2011 and Rolex Kentucky in 2012, both on Parklane Hawk, and could have won the grandslam if he won Badminton in May 2012. However with the weather cancelling this event, Rolex rolled it over into this year.
To add to the excitement, William will have to go head to head with Andrew Nicholson for the title. Andrew won Burghley in 2012 on Avebury and Rolex Kentucky on Quimbo. As there is true competitive rivalry between William and one of New Zealand’s top eventers, this will be the best Badminton to date! Organisers are already anticipating an uplift in footfall as people congregate to see this spectacular.
William will be doing a signing on Peter Stunt’s stand (no 23) at 12 noon on Saturday. See you there!
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