French beats Townend to Badminton title – video & report

GB’s Piggy French wins first major title at the Badminton Horse Trials

Britain’s Piggy French thwarted compatriot Oliver Townend to win the Badminton Horse Trials.

French’s first major title was recorded with a winning score of 26.8 on Vanir Kamira and she is only the second British winner since Townend in 2009.

One fence down and four time penalties cost Townend a second Badminton title.

They also stalled his hopes of winning the £270,000 Grand Slam, but it was a successful week for British riders with six finishing in the top 10.

The Grand Slam consists of the Kentucky Three-Day Event, the Badminton Horse Trials and the Burghley Horse Trials.

“My whole state of mind was that I woke up first thing and thought maybe I could, but then as soon as I walked the course I thought there was no chance,” Northamptonshire-based French, 38, said.

“The time was tight, there were so many related distances, and we were definitely getting lower and lower as we went on. I kept hearing rattles, but no noise from the crowd, so I thought we must still be there.

“Watching Oliver, I had turned away by the last fence and I thought ‘well done him’ but then the clock went red. It was very close. It was our day.

“My horse is a pain in the backside for 360 days of the year. She is difficult to manage, but she is amazing and comes to form for Badminton and Burghley.

“If I had built that course at home and practised it in the same-sized arena, I could do it 50 times and never have a clear round. But there is something about her. They just do enough when they need to. It is a complete fairytale.”

Shropshire-based Townend went into Badminton’s showjumping finale as a clear leader aboard his 2017 Burghley champion Ballaghmor Class, with an advantage of 5.3 penalties.

But he finished in second place – and sixth aboard Cillnabradden Evo – with Australian Chris Burton taking third on Cooley Landis.

“My two horses were amazing all week,” Townend said. “Second doesn’t feel as good as first, but it is still very good at this event. The show will keep going.”

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