With Rio looming large on the horizon, an exceptionally strong field of riders have entered this year’s Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (4-8 May 2016).
Return of the kings
Eventing behemoths William Fox-Pitt and Andrew Nicholson have entered the world’s most famous four-star – after both suffered traumatic cross-country falls last season.
Reigning Badminton champion William – who had a serious head injury at Le Lion d’Angers last October – is entered with Parklane Hawk, while Andrew has entered both Nereo and Avebury.
Making his return to Badminton after a 13-year absence is New Zealander Blyth Tait, the former world and Olympic champion. Blyth is entered with both Bear Necessity V and Xanthus III.
Olympic champion Michael Jung returns to Badminton three years after narrowly missing out on winning, when a showjumping pole cost him the title and relegated him to second place.
He and his superstar horse La Biosthetique Sam return for a second crack at the title, and the pair are bound to start favourites for this year’s event.
Another combination to watch is Ingrid Klimke, who has twice finished runner up at Badminton, and her ride Horseware Hale Bob OLD.
The photographers will no doubt be out in force this May with the news that Zara Phillips – competing under her married name Tindall – will be competing on High Kingdom. The pair make their first reappearance at Badminton since 2013.
Other big British names on the entry list include Pippa Funnell, Oliver Townend, Tina Cook and Nicola Wilson, while other riders with Rio firmly in their sights include Gemma Tattersall, Izzy Taylor and Laura Collett.
One notable absence is Mary King – but her daughter Emily is entered with Brookleigh, following their fourth place at Pau last season.
Waiting for a run
There are 26 horses and riders on the waiting list for this year’s competition.
Among these are Alice Dunsdon and Fernhill Present. The British pair are aiming to become the first to complete all of the world’s six four-star events – and they only have Badminton left to achieve their dreams. But at 22nd on the list (which is based on a horse’s ranking points) Alice might have a nervous few weeks waiting to find out if she’ll get a run.
At 25th on the list is Ben Hobday and Mulrys Error. The popular pair completed Badminton last May but Ben went on to miss much of the season while undergoing cancer treatment. His army of supporters will no doubt be hoping to see the British rider back in action this year.
The full list of accepted entries and the waiting list can be seen here.