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Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials 2013 – canapes and cross-country

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I reckon I can now be officially crowned the queen of canapes: Last week in Gothenburg and this week…. in Gloucestershire at the jolly Duke of Beaufort’s. Yep, I managed to get an invite to the famous Rider’s Cocktail Party at Badminton House and my word, the canapes were fabulous.

Bizarrely, they were being passed through a window into the main lounge, from what looked like a mini marquee outside. I admit I was rather underwhelmed when I noticed that – how many rooms does the estate have? And they cook in a tent?! Anyway, unperturbed I indulged in a few smoked salmon blinis, mini goat’s cheese tarts and chili cocktail sausages. Oh and a couple of glasses of Tattinger.

Other than champagne at The House, I have generally been sat in a portacabin next to the main arena (oh! the highs and lows) interviewing riders after their tests. Changable weather affected the two days of dressage but for the Cross Country today, the sun got his hat on and I celebrated by taking off my coat and putting on the shades. Woo.

Oliver (never Ollie) Townend was trail blazer and set us all up for a great day with a near perfect clear round inside the time on Armada. The last hour of competition was SOOOOO exciting, even non-eventing fans must have been gripped. The incredible and so far unstoppable Michael Jung, Olympic Gold Medallist (among many other titles) is really raining on the parade for the two in contention for the Rolex Grand Slam.

I almost have to double check myself when I say that – the TWO in contention. This is never going to happen again in our life time. (I imagine).William Fox-Pitt and Andrew Nicholson will both earn a tidy bonus of $350,000 if they win here this weekend. I won’t go into all the details about how this situation happened – Pippa Funnell is currently the ONLY ever rider to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing so you can appreciate how rare it is.

If Michael gets a pole down and William goes clear (and New Zealand rider Jonathan Paget who is in second place overnight rolls a pole or has a few time faults) then Mr Fox-Pitt will win – he currently has the lead over Nicholson by 0.2 penalties. That’s a lot of ifs and buts, but with the trot up and show jumping still to go, anything is possible.

I’ll keep you posted.

Kate Justice