EN Today: Badminton preview

Eventing Nation enlists the help of Jacky Green to rummage through the 2012 Badminton entry list and predict who’ll be hoisting up a trophy at the end of the weekend.

One of my favorite EN contributors is also one of our most controversial.  Jacky Green calls things like she sees them, so what better application of Jacky’s talents than a look at the Badminton entry list, which was released last week.  Jacky works for Team New Zealand and also runs her Maizey Manor Farm in the UK and she is a regular Eventing Nation contributor. Thanks for writing this Jacky and thank you for reading.John
Photo by Samantha Clark

From Jacky Green:

After much anticipation the entry list for Badminton 2012 is up online and as ever it contains a top class field of International stars. Hugh Thomas’s entry criteria makes it harder and harder each year to make the cut, this year a whopping current 75 FEI points leaves you first on the wait list which contains some well known 4 star horses as well as some of the younger up and coming successful 3 star horses.

[Accepted Entries PDF, Waiting List PDF, Badminton Website]

Australia fields a strong hand including previous winner Inonothing and Paul Tapner who is back up and running well this spring after his WEG injury left 2011 as a gap year. Chris Burton has Holstein Park Leilani and will be hoping that Lady Luck is with him this time after the mare inexplicably dropped her back legs into the big ditch and brush at Burghley last year and then disappointed at Pau when dropping 3 rails after a great xc round. Clayton Fredericks comes double-handed and could be right up there with Be My Guest who has been 5th at Rolex and 3rd at Burghley, Happy Times has been a star for Sam Griffiths and if he showjumps well should be a good each way bet.  Showjumping has also been the nemesis for Rutherglen and Andrew Hoy, who lost the lead at Montelibretti last month on the final day. Bill Levett is also double-handed with the return to Badminton with Hippolyte (7th in 2010) and the much admired up-and-coming One Too Many NJ.

I don’t know much about the French entries except to say that both Pascal Leroy and Jean Teulere are two of France’s most accomplished eventers and would presume neither should be overlooked.

Of the massive GB entry William Fox-Pitt has an incredible 5 horses entered including his 2011 Burghley winner Parklane Hawk. Also on form is Lionheart who impressed at Pau last autumn with his 3rd whilst Macchiato had a showjumping round to forget.  Neuf des Couers also had a disappointing showjumping at Burghley last year and it’s hard to judge Seacookie (2nd at Burghley 2010) as he has rarely been cross country since so it would not be a complete surprise if he did not front up at Badminton. Piggy French takes Jakata and should never be overlooked, Laura Collett impressed on her debut last year and could easily lead the dressage with the talented Rayef.  Francis Whittington takes two rides including Sir Percival who must be in line for a top three placing having had so many bad luck stories at 4 star in the past and Nicola Wilson runs two with crowd favorite Opposition Buzz and his ever improving dressage being one to watch. Mary King is yet again partaking with Appache Sauce, surely one of the soundest 4 star horses on the circuit and will be interesting to watch on her new ride, the stallion Chilli Morning who has previously been campaigned by Nick Gauntlett. Pippa Funnell has both of her Burghley rides entered as well as WEG superstar Redesigned who will be very impressive to watch if he is back to his WEG form.  Zara Phillips takes High Kingdom who was quite incredible on his 4 star debut at Burghley last autumn and will be looking to impress the UK selectors with London in mind. Emily Lewellyn will also be one to watch with her lovely Pardon Me.

Germany will have a strong hand and my pick of them is hardly a surprise, Michael Jung’s Leopin FST is now solely in the hands of Michael in the run up to the Games (having been also competed up until now by his owner at one star level, surely quite confusing for any horse).  Dirk Schrade brings King Artus who just missed out on a medal at the Europeans and has also won Pau 4 star. FRH Fantasia and Andreas Dibowski will be looking to put their European tumble at a plain oxer behind them as having sold his top ride Butts Leon Andreas is going to need to do something good for the selectors.  Simone Dietermann has been unlucky in the past with the strong-pulling cross country ride Free Easy and will be looking for a class round this time. Kai-Steffen Meier has the good jumping TSF Karascada but the Heraldix-sired ride will need to improve in the dressage to make the top 10. Bettina Hoy has the exciting Lanfranco fresh from 3rd place at Blenheim last season and if he can contain his nerves in the dressage will be stunning to watch and should go well in the jumping phases.

Ireland, having been chasing FEI points like mad for the last six months, find themselves with more entries than usual for Badminton as a happy coincidence and are led by Camilla Speirs and the diminutive Portersize Just a Jiff.  Together they won the CIC*** at Ballindenisk last month, was 2nd at Boekelo last autumn after completing the European Champs, and will be looking to put her splatt before the lake at Badminton last year to bed. Sam Watson is on a comeback mission with Horseware Bushman who put in a surprisingly dirty stop at the Europeans but who surely won’t get that opportunity again as it was a very uncharacteristic thing to do and he has also been posting some very smart dressage scores much to the delight of Ferdi Eilberg who has been working hard with the Irish squad riders. Elizabeth (Esib) Power is without Kilpatrick River but brings September Bliss instead, fresh from a good 2nd at Ballindenisk last month and 9th at Boekelo. Not as flashy on the flat as his stablemate but hopefully will leave her departing in the horsebox rather than the air ambulance this year!

Finally the Kiwis… for my money its Andrew Nicholson’s year as Avebury has looked so impressive in team training this winter and if he can keep his cheeky side in check cross country he will be hard to beat. He also has Mr Cruise Control and Shady Grey entered as well as having Quanza and Calico Joe entered at Kentucky, whilst WEG bronze medallist Nereo gets a bye, and that is some team of horses to have at home. Mark Todd brings the consistent jumper Major Milestone back as well as NZB Grass Valley who should be in the top ten at least.  Caroline Powell has Boston Two Tip for his 2nd Badminton, as well as the ever popular Lenamore who is realistically able to add Badminton to his Burghley win as it is one of his favorite venues and he shows not a hint of his 19 years this spring. Jonathan Paget has Clifton Lush and after his 5th place at Burghley last autumn will be hoping to move up into the top three this time.

The scene seems to be set for another vintage Badminton and it is interesting to note that the impending Olympics have taken only a handful of horses out of the running and have probably added more high profile horses than usual with selectors keen to see top horses running and whoever lifts the trophy on the May Bank Holiday Monday will have beaten some very good combinations to it.

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