Golden line-up for Badminton Horse Trials with top riders from Rio Olympics

May 02 2017
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OLYMPIC medallists are among leading riders looking for glory at this year’s Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.

OLYMPIC medallists are among leading riders looking for glory at this year’s Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.

Individual gold and team silver medallist Michael Jung prepared for Rio 2016 by winning Badminton for the first time just a few months before the Games.

He now returns to South Gloucestershire with hopes of retaining the title with his top horse La Biosthetique Sam.

Among challengers to the German rider will be his compatriot Ingrid Klimke, while France’s Astier Nicolas - team gold and individual silver in Rio - will be in familiar territory at Badminton, having previously been based in Chipping Sodbury.

British team stalwarts Kristina Gifford and Nicola Wilson are in the mix, with Kitty King hoping to impress after her Olympic debut with Ceylor Lan.

Oliver Townend would like a second Badminton victory after his first success in 2009, while UK-based New Zealander Andrew Nicholson will be back in action at the prestigious event after suffering a serious neck injury in 2015.

Although Nicholson’s miraculous recovery saw him competing again within months of surgery, he pulled out of last year’s Badminton through lack of fitness.

He has two horses entered this year, including his stable star Nereo, and is keen to win the international having achieved a record 35 completions without victory.

Other Kiwis lining up are Mark Todd, Tim Price and Caroline Powell, with Australia fielding former Badminton winners Sam Griffiths and Paul Tapner, along with potential favourite Christopher Burton.

This year’s cross-country course, designed for the first time by Eric Winter, has been described as chunky.

Badminton regulars include the lake complex, Huntsman’s Close and fences at the quarry but Winter has also re-introduced a 1980s classic, the KBIS Bridge, and a revamp of a thick rail over a ditch - the Rolex Grand Slam Trakehner.

The new PHEV Corral should be influential and the four-mile, 30-fence course is completed by the Mitsubishi Final Mount, an obstacle designed in a competition won by swimwear creator Victoria Hanson after 13,000 votes were cast online.

Badminton runs from May 4-7 with two days of dressage followed by cross-country action and the final show jumping. The Mitsubishi Motors Cup competition for amateur riders is on May 3.