For the second year running, we are all missing Badminton Horse trials, sadly having to cancel again in 2021 due to covid restrictions. Badminton is the pinnacle of British eventing and attracts thousands of spectators whether watching the precision of dressage or the thrills and spills of cross country day. Plus, a great number of stands and shoppers looking for bargains to treat our horses and ourselves.
Here we share 10 fun facts about Badminton Horse Trials and we look forward to it returning in the next year.
First opening its doors in 1949, Badminton has been a popular occasion for horse lovers and has expanded and changed hugely since the first Trials in which only 22 horses entered and some 500 spectators sat watching on bales of hay.
The prize money for the very first 1949 event was £150 to the winner and a total of about £500 in all. Now total prize money for the three-day event is roughly £330,000, with the winner taking home £80,000 and the top 20 competitors scooping smaller but still significant amounts.
The very first European Championships were staged at Badminton in 1953. The winner was Major Laurence Rook on Starlight XV.
In 1955, the Trials were moved to Windsor for one year at the invitation of The Queen, to hold the 2nd European Championships
Bad weather has forced the cancellation of the Trials on four occasions – in 1966, 1975, 1987 and 2012. The terrible weather of 1962/63 which continued into the spring, forced Badminton to downgrade to a one-day event. Foot and Mouth disease caused the cancellation of the 2001 Event. The worldwide pandemic of the Coronavirus COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the 2020 &2021 event
The youngest horse to win Badminton was Golden Willow, an American-bred Thoroughbred who was 5 at the time. This will never be beaten as horses now have to be 7 years old to compete.
(A must watch on youtube!) Mark Todd (New Zealand), on Bertie Blunt, rode two-thirds of the 1995 cross-country course with only one stirrup. The horse was unfortunately eliminated at the final Horse Inspection the following day. The following year, the partnership won the Badminton title.
The highest number of completions by a horse is shared between Ballycotton; Over To You, Lenamore, Comanche, all at 7 completions each. The rider to of completed the most times is Andrew Nicholson (NZL)he is the holder of this record with an amazing 37 times (winning in 2017).
5 mares have won the horse trails and Chilli morning is the only stallion to of ever won the event.