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by presenter & commentator Nicole Brown

Back to Badminton
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by Ben Buxton,

First Published: 4 May, 2022

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It’s been a long road back and we cannot wait to welcome friends, new and old, to the Fairfax & Favor stand at Badminton Horse Trials this week. To give you the inside line on some of the leading contenders in the line-up this year we have teamed up with presenter, commentator and host of the EquiRatings Eventing Podcast, Nicole Brown, to find some combinations to look out for this week…

There’s nothing quite like the buzz of a big one. We’ve missed it over the last few years, from shopping ‘til we drop, fangirling the likes of Pippa (Funnell) and William (Fox-Pitt) for a selfie and doing so many steps that we thank our lucky stars that we have the comfiest footwear known to man. It’s good to be back and, whether you’re a Badminton pro or visiting for the first time this year, it’s always fun to have a few horses and riders to follow throughout the week.

The Favourite:

The big question is, who will win? Well, the numbers have been crunched and the favourite to take the top spot on the EquiRatings Prediction Centre is Olympic gold medallists and Pau CCI5* winners Laura Collett and London 52. They’ll fancy their chances of being among the dressage leaders and their test on Friday morning is definitely one to mark in your programmes.

It’s a wide-open field, though, and while they are favourites on paper, they have their gold medal-winning teammates from the Tokyo Olympic Games to get past again in Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class and Tom McEwen and Toledo De Kerser.

Laura Collet

Laura Collett & London 52

The Golden Girls:

The Brits dominated the medals at last year's European Championships in Avenches, taking team gold and all three individual medals on offer. European Champions Nicola Wilson and JL Dublin lead the charge here, joined by their teammates Kitty King and Vendredi Biats and the reigning World Champions Ros Canter and Allstar B. The fourth team members - Piggy March and Brookfield Inocent - are notably missing here having withdrawn late last week. Admittedly this is more of a three-for-the-price-of-one pick, but hey, who’s counting.

Ros Canter

Rose Canter & Allstar B

Kitty King

Kitty King & Vendredi Biats

The Dark Horse:

Dark horse, you say? Does a tall, dark and handsome Frenchman count? Maxime Livio lines up with a horse has who has been in the top 10 at the level twice before in Vitorio du Montet. They might be a little off the pace after the dressage but whatever score they start on then they have every chance of finishing on it. Fancy a swoon, girls? You can thank me later.

Maxime Livio

Maxime Livio & Vitorio du Montet

The Debutante:

It’s hard to look past 23-year-old Bubby Upton and Cola II as the ones to watch here. Bubby has won medals at Pony, Junior and Young Rider level, plus is the reigning U25 National Champion. She was clear inside the time across country on her CCI5* debut at Les E’toiles de Pau last year with this horse and she has been in scintillating form this spring on her ever-expanding string, including Cola who took a podium position at Thorseby as part of their preparation for their Badminton debut.

Bubby Upton

Bubby Upton & Cola II

The Girls:
Who doesn’t love a super-plucky mare with all of the fight in the world? 2018 winners Jonelle Price and Classic Moet are back for what will likely be the mare’s swansong at Badminton. She has never had a cross-country jumping fault at CCI5* level, is arguably the fastest horse in the field, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to be like Jonelle when they grow up?

Jonelle Price

Jonelle Price & Classic Moet

I’ll admit, narrowing it down has been a tough ask, with so many deserving combinations worthy of a mention - it’s one of the most competitive fields we have seen in years. But, there you have it folks. My 5 (ok, 9) to follow this week.

If you’re headed to Badminton this week and would like more insight on what you can expect then check out the Badminton Preview Show on the EquiRatings Eventing Podcast, you can listen to it for free across all podcast platforms or by clicking here.

Not going to be at Badminton or want to see where else Fairfax & Favor will be? Why not have a look at our Ultimate Guide to Summer Events!

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