What, no wellies? Badminton House is not dripping, the audience that showed up Wednesday to watch the trotup was in shirt sleeves, and riders are obsessing about the dry, hard footing for Saturday's cross-country. All in a day's eventing at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials in the fairytale Cotswolds village of Badminton in Gloucestershire, west of London. In this photo, Rolex Kentucky champion Clayton Fredericks of Australia trots up WP in Limbo for the vets on Wednesday. Thanks to Kit Houghton and Mitsubishi Motors for this classic photo.
This report comes directly from the event office:
The quest for the 2007 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton trophy began this afternoon with the first horse inspection held in front of Badminton House.
Riders presented 77 horses in front of the ground jury of Christoph Hess (GER), Barry Rycroft (AUS) and Jane Tolley (GBR). All the horses passed and now go forward to dressage on Thursday and Friday.
Sixty nine riders representing 12 countries are vying for the ?55,000 (over $100,000US) first prize. Twelve riders have two horses entered including British riders Daisy Dick, Mary King, Ruth Edge, Oliver Townend, Harry Meade, Sarah Cohen and British first-timer Dominic Ruane.
Among the entries, 21 riders are making their Badminton debut including reigning World and European Champion and local rider Zara Phillips; American team member Kim Severson, who has won the Kentucky Rolex four-star event three times and brings the British-bred Winsome Adante; 2006 Luhmuhlen winner and German team members Frank Ostholt and Air Jordan and former European Champion Nicolas Touzaint and Hildago De L'ile.
Reigning 2006 Badminton champion Andrew Hoy will be unable to defend his title because of his horses' health problems (see related story). The competition at the top is lightened with 2005 and 2003 winner Pippa Funnell missing, as well as 2004 winner William Fox-Pitt, who withdrew Balincoola prior to the horse inspection today. A new name could be engraved on the silver trophy on Monday morning.
As the Meteorological Office is forecasting high temperatures and cloudless skies for the duration of the event, work is continuing on preparing the ground conditions on the course. Five hundred tons of top soil are currently being spread around the course; take-offs and landings are being watered and parts of the course are being aerated with the equi-vator.