Thursday, April 21, 2011

Eventing: Badminton: Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team Ready for CCI4* Challenge at the 2011 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials

By Joanie Morris
Lexington, KY - All 84 horses presented at the first Horse Inspection at the 2011 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials were accepted by the Ground Jury without incident. This includes three American horses: Mandiba, BallyNoe Castle RM and The Good Witch.

With their riders, Karen O'Connor, who contested her first Badminton in 1979, Buck Davidson, whose father Bruce was the first U.S. winner in 1995 and Jennifer Wooten-DaFoe who looks to cross Badminton off the list of CCI4*s to complete with her diminutive mare - these horses are trying to do something that has only been done twice before by Americans:


Karen O'Connor and Mandiba are the most experienced combination having represented the U.S. at both the 2008 Olympic Games and as part of the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. O'Connor's husband David was the second U.S. rider to win the prestigious event, when he took the honor with Custom Made in 1997.

"Mandiba is in great form," said O'Connor of the 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse. "He has never had a better run up to a CCI4*. He's fit, he's well, he's sound and he is ready and I am really excited about the weekend. It's all out there for me to give this horse the chance he deserves."
O'Connor finished 10th at Badminton on March Brown in 1979 and this will be her 10th start at the event.

"I feel like the American horses are prepared better than ever," said O'Connor. "I don't know what will happen on Sunday but I can say that we are closing the gap between what we are doing in North America and the British CCI4*s. I remember coming here before and thinking, 'what am I doing here?' after walking the course. I feel like our horses have seen these questions before and we are as close as we've ever been. It's a tribute to the course designers in this country." 

All three U.S. horses drew Saturday dressage times and Davidson leads off for the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team. BallyNoe Castle RM - the excellent jumper and a four-star veteran at just 11 years old went to Europe off a confident finish at the Fork Horse Trials in the beginning of April.

Wooten-DaFoe made the trip from California with Daisy Tognazzini's hard jumping 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare. This combination has jumped around Rolex Kentucky, the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, and Pau - proving very consistent form at the CCI4*.  

The 2011 event runs over Easter Holiday weekend, so for the first time, the schedule has been amended so that the final phase, the show jumping, takes place on Monday.

Great Badminton Coverage and Slideshow Available

If you want Badminton news but can't be in the UK, sister site Eventing Day has lots of Badminton links and information available.  Follow this link:

Here's a step-back-in-time slideshow of Badminton.  Enjoy!


The FEI Nations Cup™ 2011 series will go ahead with its prize money unchanged from last year. The agreement with series title sponsor Meydan came to an end in 2010 and the Dubai-based company has chosen to refocus its cooperation with the FEI and is currently negotiating terms to move into an exciting new partnership in Endurance.

Whilst negotiations with potential partners for the FEI Nations Cup™ Top League are still ongoing, the FEI has guaranteed that prize money to the athletes and funding for the Organising Committees is safeguarded.

“The FEI Nations Cup is our top product and the FEI is delighted to announce that the 2011 series will go ahead with its prize money maintained at the 2010 level”, FEI President HRH Princess Haya said. “We are happy that discussions are ongoing with several partners for the series.

“This is not an announcement of Meydan’s departure from the FEI family, it’s a change of focus. Meydan already puts its name to the FEI Endurance world rankings and the company is keen to maximise its visibility in that discipline. They see Endurance as a natural fit.”

The five-star FEI Nations Cup™, one of the FEI’s most prestigious series contested by eight of the world’s best teams at eight of the best venues in Europe, opens at La Baule (FRA) on 13 May, followed by Rome (ITA), 27 May; St Gallen (SUI), 3 June; Falsterbo (SWE), 8 July; Aachen (GER), 14 July; Hickstead (GBR), 29 July; Dublin (IRL), 5 August; and Rotterdam (NED), 26 August.

The eight nations that will compete in the 2011 series are Belgium, Denmark, title holders France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, The Netherlands and USA.


Paul Tapner (AUS), winner of the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials in 2010 with Innonothing, rides Kilfinnie in this year’s event and opener for the HSBC FEI Classics™ 2011 © Kit Houghton/FEI

The  HSBC FEI Classics™ 2011, an exciting series linking five of the world’s top level events, begins in style today (Thursday 21 April - Monday 25 April) at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (GBR).

The first crucial qualifier for the 2012 London Olympic Games has attracted arguably the strongest international field for many years with representatives from 11 nations and seven former winners entered.

Oliver Townend (GBR), 28, the 2009 victor, wasn’t even born when the double Olympic champion Mark Todd (NZL), 55, made his Badminton debut - and won - 31 years ago. Both riders  have been in dominant form on the British national circuit this spring. Townend rides the grey Ashdale Cruise Master, fifth at Luhmühlen last year, while Todd has Major Milestone, 11th at Burghley last time, and is last to go on the former Townend ride NZB Land Vision, guaranteeing a gripping end to Cross-Country day on Sunday.

Last year’s winner, Paul Tapner (AUS), does not have his 2010 winner Inonothing in action, but he still has plenty of ammunition in Kilfinnie, a horse with good CCI4* form. His compatriot Lucinda Fredericks, who triumphed in 2007, has come off the waitlist with the good mare Prada. Much anticipation surrounds the return to Badminton of Pippa Funnell (GBR), a former three-time winner, after three years. She brings the exciting 10-year-old chestnut Redesigned, a winner of Bramham CCI3* (GBR) and fifth individually at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Kentucky (USA) last year, plus Mirage d’Elle, 15th at Burghley in 2010.

Mary King (GBR), 49, has been competing at Badminton since 1985. The winner in 1992 and 2000, she has two good rides in the CCI4* veteran Apache Sauce and the handsome Imperial Cavalier, fourth last year and on whom she won a world team gold medal.

But the man they may all have to beat is William Fox-Pitt (GBR), who last tasted victory here seven years ago. He has won more CCIs - 40 - than anyone else, and is the only rider to have captured four different CCI4*s. He also won the HSBC FEI Classics™ last year, for the second time. He rides Navigator, second at Pau, and Cool Mountain, winner of the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event (USA) 2010 and team gold and individual silver at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™.

Many people feel, however, that Badminton is due a new name on the magnificent Mitsubishi Trophy, and Andrew Nicholson (NZL) could be the one. He has a record number of Badminton completions - 29 - under his belt and has two good rides, Avebury and the Spanish-bred Nereo, on whom he took world team and individual bronze medals last year.

To riders such as these, and Karen O’Connor (USA), who has the longest Badminton record of all having started competing here in 1979, much will be familiar about Director Hugh Thomas’ Cross-Country course. But all the riders know they can never underestimate the enormity of the occasion on Cross-Country day at the world’s oldest CCI, when vast cheering crowds line the tracks, especially around the iconic Lake fences.

The track runs clockwise - it is reversed every year - and the 2006 winner Andrew Hoy (AUS), who has had a preview walk around, has given one combination, the sharply angled Carisma Pond, 10 out of 10 for difficulty. This is followed by a set of open corners, which were highly influential last year, and there’s a tricky new angled bounce combination in the wood at Huntsman’s Close.

“The course follows the pattern of high-action clusters of obstacles interspersed with imposing but less technical questions and, as ever, the Mitsubishi Motors Trophy will take a lot of winning,” comments Hugh Thomas.

The top 10 riders will carry forward points in the HSBC FEI Classics™ and, with the season’s best three results counting towards a final score, tactics will come into play - the likes of Todd, King, Townend and Fox-Pitt all have horses en route for the second leg, the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, which takes place Thursday 28 April - Sunday 1 May.

Follow the action with daily news reports from the FEI, live FEI TV coverage and results  and updates on

HSBC Training Bursary
HSBC, the platinum partner of the FEI and global sponsor of Eventing, has supported the HSBC FEI Classics™ since 2008 and is the title sponsor.

At the centre of this sponsorship is a commitment to the development of the sport of Eventing at every level.

HSBC has introduced a Training Bursary, which is a unique award presented to the highest placed rider at each HSBC FEI Classics™ leg who completes a 4* event for the very first time.

The winning rider receives a training voucher to the value of $1,000, which is spent on sessions with a trainer of the athletes’ choice approved by the FEI and National Federation.

HSBC FEI Classics™ prize money
Over the next three years, HSBC will be contributing US$1 million in prize money, which represents the biggest prize fund on offer in Eventing on an annual basis.

At the end of the season, the five riders with the highest number of points collected among the five HSBC FEI Classics™ 2011 events are awarded their share of a total prize pot of US$333,000, split as follows:

1st US$150,000 (Series Champion)
2nd US$75,000
3rd US$50,000
4th US$33,000
5th US$25,000

HSBC FEI Classics™ 2011 Calendar
1. Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (GBR) - 22-25 April
2. Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event (USA) - 28 April-1 May
3. Luhmühlen CCI 4* presented by E.ON (GER) - 16-19 June
4. The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (GBR) - 1-4 September
5. Les Etoiles de Pau CCI 4* (FRA) - 12-16 October

HSBC FEI Classics™ 2012
The HSBC FEI Classics™ 2012 season will begin at Les Etoiles de Pau CCI 4* (FRA) on 12-16 October 2011. This is also the location for the final leg of the 2011 season. Competitors therefore have the unique opportunity to secure points for both the HSBC FEI Classics™ 2011 and 2012 seasons by competing at Les Etoiles de Pau.

1.    Les Etoiles de Pau CCI 4* (FRA) - 12-16 October 2011
2.    Australian International 3 Day Event (AUS) - 18-20 November 2011
3.    Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event (USA) -  26-29 April 2012
4.    Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (GBR) - 4-7 May 2012
5.    Luhmühlen CCI 4* presented by E.ON (GER) - 14-17 June 2012
6.    The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (GBR) - 30 August-2 September 2012

HSBC FEI Classics™ Final Standings for 2010
1st William Fox-Pitt (GBR) 39 points - US$ 150,000 (Series champion)
2nd Andreas Dibowski (GER) 37 - $75,000
3rd Caroline Powell (NZL) 21 - $ 50,000
4th Mary King (GBR) 18 - $33,000
5th Paul Tapner (AUS) 15 - $25,000


Rudi Kronsteiner (AUT) aboard Smart Spook, winners of the 2007 FEI World Reining Masters. Rudi was the first non-US rider to win the prestigious event. (c) Tonya Garrison/FEI

The entries in principle for the inaugural FEI Reining World Final, which will be held in exactly one month’s time on 21 May 2011 at the renowned equestrian facility of Bökeberg, just outside of Malmö (SWE), are the strongest in the sport’s history. Reiners from 20 nations will be vying for the coveted title of FEI Reining World Champion and the US$ 100,000 prize pot.

The nations intending to field athletes are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the USA.

The definite entries will be announced on 18 May 2011.

The FEI Reining World Final is the new-look FEI World Reining Masters. It will be the first time since 2005 that this annual individual final will be held outside North America.

Reining became an FEI discipline in 2000. It is designed to show the athletic ability of a ranch type horse in the confines of a show arena. Contestants are required to run one of ten approved patterns, divided into seven or eight manoeuvres, including small slow circles, large fast circles, flying lead changes, 360 degree spins done in place, and the exciting sliding stops that are the hall mark of the reining horse. Despite the seemingly relaxed attitude of both horse and rider and the loose reins typical of the discipline, Reining is a high level competition sport requiring concentration and high riding competence.

The incredible success of the sport, which is now practiced in more than 40 countries on six continents, at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2010 gave Reining significant momentum for continued growth.

For additional information on the 2011 World Reining Final is available on the event’s official website and includes information on schedules, competitor resources, hotels, facilities, tickets and much more.