Friday, May. 31, 2024

Australian Paul Tapner Takes Over The Lead After Cross-Country At Badminton

Australia’s Paul Tapner was clearly overjoyed as he came through the finish line at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials on his second ride, Inonothing. His celebrations were more than justified as, after an enthralling and dramatic cross-country day, he found himself in the lead at a four-star event for the first time.

The track at Badminton, the second leg of the HSBC FEI Classics, proved as enigmatic as ever, taking its fair share of high-profile scalps, including all the top five riders after dressage.

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Australia’s Paul Tapner was clearly overjoyed as he came through the finish line at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials on his second ride, Inonothing. His celebrations were more than justified as, after an enthralling and dramatic cross-country day, he found himself in the lead at a four-star event for the first time.

The track at Badminton, the second leg of the HSBC FEI Classics, proved as enigmatic as ever, taking its fair share of high-profile scalps, including all the top five riders after dressage.

“I was aware that there were quite a lot faults occurring,” said British-based Tapner, 34, who was equal 11th after dressage. “But after I’d ridden my first horse (Stormhill Michael, 12th) I had a roast lunch and then a sleep in the lorry and tried to forget about it. Inonothing is a unique horse to ride across country; he’s so small and nippy.”

If Tapner wins tomorrow, he will be the third Australian rider to do so in the last four years, following Andrew Hoy (2006) and Lucinda Fredericks (2007).

Tapner was confident about his chances in the final jumping phase, but only one fence covers the top four riders. Great Britain’s Mary King is only 2.3 penalties in arrears on Imperial Cavalier, having shown all her experience to survive a few erratic jumps after the pair were held on course while a fence was rebuilt.

“I was a bit distracted and wasn’t completely on the ball,” admitted King, 48, who still achieved a fast time despite being forced to take the long route at fence 14, the influential sequence of flower boxes at the Countryside Complex. “But I was thrilled with the way the horse came home. He felt fabulous.”

Listen to an interview with Mary King.

Germany’s Simone Dietermann made a spectacular Badminton debut and is now in third place on Free Easy NRW and in line to win the HSBC Training Bursary worth $1,000.

“My horse is a good jumper and always fast,” she explained. “The first 10 fences weren’t that great because he was fighting me, but then he settled and was fantastic.”

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Great Britain’s James Robinson, who is riding in his eighth Badminton start on the 17-year-old Comanche, is in fourth place.

In deference to the heavy overnight rain, the ground jury decided to remove the second two fences in the Quarry (5 and 6), so that riders had to take the long route, plus the second of the angled logs at the Rolex Turn (30).

It was immediately apparent that time would be an influential factor, and it was first-timer Sian Wynne-Morris of Great Britain on Just Appeal who was the first to achieve the optimum of 11:36—she has moved up 50 places to 31 as a result. Ireland’s Sam Watson, up 44 places to eighth on Horseware Bushman, was the only other to do so.

The Badminton track proved as difficult to predict as ever, taking its fair share of high-profile scalps. William Fox-Pitt, in overnight sixth on Sea Cookie, withdrew and Robinson and Andreas Dibowski of Germany, now fifth on his Pau (France) runner-up Euroridings Butts Leon, are the only riders from the top 10 after dressage still in the running.

Germany’s Kai Rüder, the overnight leader, was going brilliantly on Le Prince des Bois when he stopped in front of the log on top of the Outlander Bank (fence 18). Ruth Edge, second, was desperately unlucky when Two Thyme landed steeply over the HSBC Hexagon Hedge (fence 17), an angled brush over a ditch, and stumbled, pitching her over his head.

European Champion Kristina Cook of Great Britain, third on Miner’s Frolic, managed to smile and bow to the crowd after getting soaked in the Lake (12), and New Zealand’s Neil Spratt, fourth on Upleadon, was one of 10 riders to fault at the brush corner in Huntsman’s Close (9). Frances Whittington, fifth on Sir Percival III, got the furthest before tipping off the Alterian Staircase (24).

“I’m not the greatest fan of cold water, but humiliation kept me warm!” said Cook resignedly. “I didn’t get the greatest shot into the water and then my horse left a leg. It was frustrating, but that’s Badminton.”

William Fox-Pitt on Macchiato, Lucy Wiegersma on Woodfalls Inigo Jones, Clayton Fredericks on The Frog, Mary King on Kings Temptress, Zara Phillips on Glenbuck and Andrew Nicholson on Avebury were among those to fall foul of the pair of open corners at the HS1 Farmyard (15), where Alex Hua Tian of China fell on his first ride, Jeans, and broke the frangible pin. This was the most influential fence, with 11 riders faulting here.

Listen to an interview with Zara Phillips.

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Desert Island, ridden by Louisa Lockwood and owned by Donald Birts, was put down following a fall at fence 9, the corner at Huntsmans Close. A detailed investigation is taking place.

Statistics

81 started the cross-country

57 completed

41 clear rounds

2 inside the optimum time of 11:36

15 eliminations and 9 retirements

Results

1. Paul Tapner/Inonothing (AUS) 44.5 + 0.4 = 44.9
2. Mary King/Imperial Cavalier (GBR) 44.8 + 2.4 = 47.2
3. Simone Dietermann/Free Easy NRW (GER) 45.0 + 3.2 = 48.2
4. James Robinson/Comanche (GBR) 43.5 + 4.8 = 48.3
5. Andreas Dibowski/Euroridings Butts Leon (GER) 43.5 + 6 = 49.5
6. Daisy Berkeley/Spring Along (GBR) 48.0 + 2.4 = 50.4
7. Caroline Powell/Lenamore (NZL) 50.2 + 1.2 = 51.4
8. Sam Watson/Horseware Bushman (IRL) + 52.5 + 0 = 52.5
9. Carolyne Ryan-Bell/Rathmoyle King (GBR) 47.0 + 6 = 53.0
10. Bill Levett/Hippolyte (AUS) 44.5 + 8.8 = 53.3

Full results on www.badminton-horse.co.uk

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