Tuesday, May. 21, 2024

Fredericks Adds Another Four-Star Title To The Family Collection At Badminton.

The Fredericks’ bandwagon just keeps rolling. On May 3-6, one week after husband Clayton Fredericks’ Rolex Kentucky CCI*** victory, wife Lucinda added a cool $109,345 to the family  fortunes when she led from start to finish at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials in England. Her sparky little horse, Headley Britannia, is the first mare to win in 53 years.


The Fredericks’ bandwagon just keeps rolling. On May 3-6, one week after husband Clayton Fredericks’ Rolex Kentucky CCI*** victory, wife Lucinda added a cool $109,345 to the family  fortunes when she led from start to finish at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials in England. Her sparky little horse, Headley Britannia, is the first mare to win in 53 years.

Just eight months ago, “Brit” won the Burghley CCI**** (England) too—all this for a 15.3-hand chestnut no one wanted to buy when she was for sale three years ago. She will now go for embryo transfer.

“I couldn’t be more proud,” said Lucinda, 41, who had tears streaming down her face as the Australian national anthem was played (she switched from British nationality in 2002). “I’ve wanted this since I was 14. It’s been a long, hard slog, because I’ve had to sell a lot of horses along the way.”

In an international line-up, Andreas Dibowski headed a successful German raid, finishing second by just 2 penalties on his dressage score, on another mare, FRH Serve Well. U.S. Olympic silver medalist Kim Severson finally made her Badminton debut, impressing the crowds in third place with Plain Dealing Farm’s fabulous British-bred Winsome Adante.

Lucinda’s joyous victory was a happy ending to a controversial weekend. Riders had arrived at Badminton to find bone-hard ground, which was rutted by the tracks of deer and horses in the park. Negativity swept the horsebox ranks like wildfire, and William Fox-Pitt withdrew Ballincoola even before the horse inspection.

The reigning World Champion, Zara Phillips, was next out amid a blaze of publicity on Friday night. Toytown missed the 2004 Olympics due to injury, and Phillips explained: “Of course I wanted to run, but it would have been selfish to do so just to say I had been around Badminton.”

Other riders waited until Saturday morning, to inspect the aerating and topsoil work done overnight by the ground staff under the guidance of technical delegate Mike Etherington-Smith, who had flown back from course-designing Kentucky to find himself fire-fighting a lack of preparation by the Badminton organizing team.

More than a quarter of the field, 22, pulled out, 16 of whom were British, including all six of last year’s World Equestrian Games squad. Potential Olympic riders will all have to re-route, perhaps to the Luhmuhlen CCI (Germany), to gain qualification for 2008, except for Sarah Cohen, who finished best Briton in ninth on Hide And Seek II.

Jeanette Brakewell was next, in 14th on her amazing 19-year-old Over To You, who was retired after his seventh Badminton completion amid emotional scenes.

Former dual winner Mary King, who had done her best-ever dressage test on Call Again Cavalier, was openly angry about the state of the cross-country going. “It’s horrendous. This is supposed to be the best event in the world. Badminton is the main reason I still event, and I am heartbroken.”

British team coach Yogi Briesner said that the decision to withdraw had been left to individuals, but he did point out: “It’s not much good having an Olympic qualification if you haven’t got a horse when you get there.”

Chris Bartle, the German team trainer, agonized over whether his riders, on their best horses, should run.


He walked the course three times between 6 and 11 a.m. on Saturday  maintaining constant contact by mobile phone with Etherington-Smith. He only made the decision that the German riders should compete 30 minutes before flagfall.

“I sweated buckets, because I had persuaded the riders they should come to Badminton,” he said. “We won’t know until the Euro-pean Championships this September whose approach was the right one.”

The Show Goes On

But other riders, most noticeably the Antipodeans, for whom hard ground is the norm, and Kim Severson, said they were confident that enough work would be done.

Severson said early in the week: “I think it’s OK. I’d be happy to run on this at home.”

New Zealander Andrew Nicholson said: “It’s fine. I have great faith in Mike Etherington-Smith, and I think it will be acceptable on the day.”

But, for most people, it was too little too late. British riders have perhaps become spoiled, because there has been huge progress in knowledge of ground conditions—many tiny novice events now produce perfect going. Badminton is considered the Mecca of the sport, and, as such, consensus was that more should have been done.

Event director Hugh Thomas apologized unequivocally at the end of the week. “We produced a course on the Tuesday of which I was not proud. I have relied too heavily on the weather forecast [which predicted thunderstorms], and, as a result, we were not prepared. We have done all we can now, and my team has worked their butts off. It will not be perfect, but it will be acceptable.”

Fifty-five horses ran across country, producing 43 completions, 33 clears and 18 inside the optimum time. Nicholson, who holds the record for Badminton completions—26 now—was the first to make it look possible, finishing inside the time on Henry Tankerville, who is a fine jumper but no speed merchant. They were eventually eighth, and Nicholson was also fifth on Lord Killinghurst.

But three of the first four riders, all of whom had already withdrawn their second rides, had horse falls. Daisy Dick, the path-finder on Hope Street, slipped in between elements at the penultimate fence, and subsequently the second element was removed. Lucy Wiegersma’s Beckli hit a logpile coming out of the Sunken Road at fence 17, and Ruth Edge’s mare Marsh Mayfly hit the log on top of the Outlander Bank at fence 8.

U.S. rider Jan Byyny, making her debut at Badminton on Task Force, had a refusal in the Shogun Hollow at fence 7, a coffin minus ditch, and another at the monster brush corner in Huntsman’s Close at fence 24. Byyny survived being held at the final horse inspection and completed with a clear show jumping round in 36th place.

The other three North American riders went well and clear across country. Canadian Olympian Hawley Bennett, who celebrated her 30th birthday on the Sunday of Badminton, and finished eventual 30th on her long-time partner, the 17-year-old Livingstone.

“It’s a little girl’s dream to come here, and it’s all it’s cracked up to be,” she said. “I just about managed not to toss my cookies when I saw the course. I’ve been with my horse for 13 years, and I wouldn’t want to be riding anything else.”

Her traveling companion Gina Miles finished eventual 15th with a double clear on the magnificent 17.3-hand Irish-bred McKinlaigh, who won many admirers over the weekend, especially British Olympic dressage rider Carl Hester who raved over his luxurious movement.


“He’s got that presence,” said Miles. “I’ve done all my ‘firsts’ on him—first four-star, first Badminton. I get many requests for him to be a hunter when he’s retired!”

Staying On Top

Lucinda Fredericks had a sparkling round, though she didn’t quite achieve her ambition of finishing inside the time at a four-star, coming home just 2 seconds over.

“If Clayton [22nd on WP In Limbo] had come back and told me not to run, I wouldn’t have, because I love this horse,” she said. “But she never lost her spring, and I was pleasantly surprised. She was feisty; we could have gone for another 2 minutes.”

The first three positions remained unchanged at the end of cross-country, with Severson, who rode superbly, in second, and Germany’s WEG team gold medalist Hinrich Romeike in third on the gray Holsteiner Marius Voigt-Logistik.

“I would like to thank the ground staff for all their hard work,” said Romeike. “Fortunately, my horse likes jumping and flying through the air. I enjoyed my round.”  

Next morning, most horses trotted up well. Three were withdrawn, but only one failed the inspection, the 18th-placed What A Performance, a big horse ridden by Piggy French.

The show jumping course appeared relatively straightforward, but toward the top of the leaderboard, the pressure began to tell. Dibowski’s copybook performance pressured the leaders, and both Romeike and Severson dropped below him, with two rails down apiece.

This alleviated the pressure on Fredericks, who now had a rail in hand, and she needed it, as the irrepressible Headley Britannia fought for her head. But, after hitting an upright at fence 10, the pair survived the triple combination and emerged triumphant through the finish flags.

For Severson, the final result may have been a disappointment, for victory was clearly a possibility at one stage. But she said: “For me, this weekend was all about getting over a hump. Some of my recent results on ‘Dan’ have not been so stellar. My main aim was to get the partnership back. He is truly a class horse.”

Lucinda Fredericks, never short of a word or three, had the final say: “I believe the ground here will be sorted. There are no hard feelings between riders and the organization. And I’m sure we’re all very much looking forward to coming back to the best event in the world.”

Freak Accidents On Cross-Country

The day was marred by the death of two horses, though neither fatality was related to the course or the going. Skwal, a 15-year-old gelding ridden by first-timer Andrew Downes, collapsed and died of a suspected heart attack at the finish.

Icare d’Auzay, ridden by former European Champion Jean-Lou Bigot for France, suffered a ghastly freak accident. He hit a flag at the Vicarage Vee, which then flipped over underneath him and pierced through the femoral and iliac arteries. Blood spurted like a fountain, and spectators rushed forward to try and stem the flow, as veterinarians worked for an hour, causing a 60-minute hold on course, to stabilize the horse under sedation. He was taken to a veterinary clinic, but they were unable to save him.

Kate Green




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