Sadly, two horses have died during cross-country day at The Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials in Gloucestershire, England.
The first, Skwal, ridden by Andrew Downes (GBR) jumped the course and finished. He collapsed after leaving the main arena with a probable heart attack.
The second horse, Icare D’Auzay, ridden by the experienced French rider Jean-Lou Bigot, had a freak accident. The horse broke a flag which severed an artery. Despite emergency treatment on course and transport to a veterinary hospital, he could not be saved.
Contrary to anxiety before the cross-country about the ground, the great effort put in by the Badminton management produced an excellent track with 43 completions and 33 clear rounds, of which 18 were within the time.
Australia’s Lucinda Fredericks on the mare Headley Britannica remains in the lead, one point ahead of American Kim Severson and Winsome Adante. Three German riders fill the next three places.
The papparazzi have left the Cotswolds: Zara Phillips did decide to withdraw Toytown this morning. Several other horses did not go forward.
One of my equestrian journalist heroes, Simon Barnes, wrote about the agony of Zara’s decision in London’s The Times:
“I’d be damned if I’d gallop a horse of mine round there, even if they let me off jumping those frightful fences. It was hard as the hob of hell, hasn’t rained within living memory, and if you gallop a horse too far and too hard on hard ground, you are going to get injuries.”
Zara Phillips missed a chance to qualify for the Olympics in 2004 because Toytown was laid up for a year with a soft tissue injury.
Read Simon’s full article (commentary, really) here.
Photo of Nicola Wilson on course by Kit Houghton, courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors