Entries for this year’s Badminton Horse Trials are headed by reigning Olympic, World and European Champion Michael Jung and three of his four fellow German team gold medallists.
All of the British silver medal team is intending to take part in the 2013 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, from May 2 to 6, as are four from New Zealand’s bronze medal team. Andrew Nicholson, Mark Todd, Jonathan Paget, and Caroline Powell are joined by fellow Kiwis Lucy Jackson and Alice Montgomery on the start list.
Rarely can there have been a stronger cast for the longest established major eventing competition in the world.
While Michael Jung on all his form must start favourite, William Fox-Pitt has five horses to choose from in his attempt to pick up the Rolex Grand Slam by adding the Mitsubishi Motors title to his wins at Burghley 2011 and Kentucky 2012; while Andrew Nicholson, the man with by far the most Badminton completions to his name but without a win so far, was on a roll at the end of 2012 with his wins at the HSBC FEI Classics at Burghley and Pau.
Seven previous winners of the world’s premier event include reigning champion Mark Todd; Lucinda Fredericks and Paul Tapner from Australia; Mary King, Oliver Townend, Pippa Funnell – the only winner of the Rolex Grand Slam to date – and Fox-Pitt, all from the host nation.
Nine Irish combinations have been accepted, and Irish breeding is also very well represented. A total of 22 Irish Sport Horses are on the Accepted list for all nations, more than a quarter of all horses who will compete, and including all of Ireland’s nine accepted combinations.
Nearly 150 would-be entrants put their names forward to take part, so once again the leading 85 horses on recent form have been accepted, with the remainder put on a waiting list. History indicates that many of these will eventually get a run, but by no means all.
Badminton, which is broadcast live every year on BBC television, attracts a quarter of a million spectators. Event Director and course designer Hugh Thomas has already said that the cross country course will be very similar to that prepared for the 2012 event cancelled at the last minute because of record breaking rainfall – but there are a few tweaks to the course, to be unveiled in the middle of April.