There was only one thing Ros Canter could do to improve upon last year’s second-placed finish at the Badminton Horse Trials (England) with Lordships Graffalo, then in his five-star debut. And in an unusual Monday show jumping phase—the event ran a day behind schedule to accommodate King Charles III’s Saturday coronation—she did it. Emphatically.
Canter and 11-year-old “Walter,” a British Sport Horse (Birkhof’s Grafenstolz—Cornish Queen, Rock King) gelding out of the same dam as her other Badminton entry, 9th-placed Pencos Crown Jewel, led the event from wire to wire to win her first Badminton CCI5*-L, and she did it on a remarkable 15-point margin over her nearest competitor. She also was the only rider to get two horses around Sunday’s cross-country.
In a muddy and particularly challenging edition of the event that saw the initial field of 64 starters dwindle to less than half due to pre-cross-country withdrawals, combined with retirements and eliminations on course, Canter and Walter turned in Sunday’s second-fastest cross-country round, adding 11.6 time penalties to their winning dressage score of 22.1.
“We all love Walter, and he had to dig deeper today than ever before, but I think he had a nice day out,” Canter said after completing cross-country. “I had the benefit of going round on my first horse [Pencos Crown Jewel], so I knew where there was time to be saved.”
They went into Monday’s show jumping phase with a two-rail, 9.8-penalty lead over second-placed Austin O’Connor of Ireland, who had catapulted up the standings with the fastest round on cross-country day (10.8 time penalties), from 34th to second.
While Canter and Walter weren’t able to finish with one of the day’s only two double-clear rounds (those belonged to fourth-placed Tom McEwen—fresh off his second-placed Kentucky finish and riding his Tokyo team gold and individual silver medalist Toledo De Kerser—and fifth-placed Tom Jackson on Capels Hollow Drift), they left all the rails up and added just 1.6 time penalties to finish on a total score of 35.3 penalties.
Their winning margin over second-placed Oliver Townend on his Tokyo team gold medal, 2017 Burghley and 2021 Kentucky five-star winner Ballaghmor Class (50.3) was an astounding 15 points, while O’Connor took third on a final score of 51.9.
Lillian Heard was the top U.S. finisher in 20th with LCC Barnaby, and Katherine Coleman was 23rd on Monbeg Senna.
Watch how Canter did it, courtesy of Badminton Horse Trials.
Also on Monday, Badminton officials announced that WSF Carthago, owned by Frank Breach and ridden by Fiona Kashel, who was injured Sunday on cross-country, was euthanized. “WSF Carthago was treated in the Veterinary Clinic at Badminton and subsequently hospitalized,” read a statement from organizers. “The extent of injury found in surgery meant successful repair was not possible and our commiserations go to the whole team.”