The Mitsubishi Motors meeting at Badminton brought its usual mix of drama and a touch of controversy at the weekend, and, all things considered, it was a satisfactory event for Irish riders.
Pádraig McCarthy’s eighth-place finish with Mr Chunky was due largely to a faultless cross-country run in a very fast time.
“We knew coming here he was capable of that,” McCarthy said. “The horse is very good in this kind of class where you can use his gallop. He’s not the most adjustable horse but he’s amazing when you can let him run.”
It took McCarthy from a share of 26th after dressage up to ninth ahead of Sunday’s show jumping, in which he added three time penalties but left all the fences intact.
Another speedy cross-country performance came from Joseph Murphy on Sportsfield Othello, elevating the pairing from 48th after dressage to 15th overnight on Saturday.
Despite eight show jumping faults, they eked up a couple of more notches to place 13th at the end.
It was the cross-country performance that delighted him most.
“When you have a challenge like that and you come through it that’s a real buzz. It was a super experience.”
The record dressage score for Jonty Evans and Cooley Rorkes Drift that had them lying fourth on Friday night was another Irish positive, though they subsequently exited after parting company cross country.
There was a dramatic conclusion on Sunday with New Zealander Jonelle Price having the last say and needing to get around the show jumping course on Classic Moet with no more than five faults to claim her first win at this level, while Oliver Townend, in second place with Cooley SRS, carried British hopes and was set to pocket a bonus of €300,000 if Price fell short. There were some nervy moments as a few fences rattled, but she ended up faultless.
Despite the disappointment for Townend he was first to congratulate her and maintained he was happy with second and fifth (on Ballaghmor Class), though he was minus the €300,000 Rolex Grand Slam bonus he would have collected had he won this event, having already landed Burghley and Kentucky. Now it’s Price who has the first leg of the possible three-timer, while the cash, eventing’s biggest purse, stays in the Rolex coffers for another year at least.
Townend issued an apology on Monday after reviewing his cross-country performances for which he was given an official warning for over-use of the whip.
There were also Irish completions for Ciaran Glynn (25th with November Night) and Alan Nolan (52nd on Bronze Flight).
Show jumping and dressage feature at the 75th staging of the Royal Windsor Horse show this weekend, while the Global Champions Tour visits Hamburg.
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