NEW ZEALAND’s Jonathan (Jock) Paget lifted the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials trophy after a tense show jumping finale on Monday.

The Badminton first-timer rode an immaculate clear aboard Clifton Promise, who began the fourth day of the competition just 0.2 penalty points behind reigning Olympic, World and European Champion Michael Jung with La Biosthetique Sam, whose late-falling rail from the very last fence saw his hopes of winning his Badminton debut come to nothing.

Grand Slam contenders William Fox-Pitt and Andrew Nicholson needed both Michael and Jock to have at least one fence down to stand any chance of winning the £350,000 prize for holding the consecutive titles of Burghley, Kentucky and Badminton, but a fence down for William’s ride Parklane Hawk meant that he dropped a place to fifth, whilst Andrew’s clear round on Nereo took him up to third position.

“I used to watch videos of Badminton, thinking it would be cool to be there one day – and now I am!” said Jock.

“[Clifton Promise] is quite tricky – it’s like riding two different horses. But I’ve asked him a lot of questions over the past week and he’s answered every one.”

Michael was philosophical in defeat: “Maybe I came into the final fence a little fast and flat, but I have been very happy with him all week. [Coming to Badminton] has been a great experience – the weather and the conditions have been fantastic.

”Andrew Nicholson’s clear round on Deborah Sellar’s Nereo was enough to secure him third spot when William Fox-Pitt and Catherine Witt’s Parklane Hawk lowered a rail and slipped to fifth.

This means that Pippa Funnell’s Rolex Grand Slam achievement of being the only rider ever to have won Kentucky, Badminton and Burghley consecutively, still stands.

And despite Zara Phillips’ early retirement from the cross-country yesterday, there was success for several of our local riders, including Luckington’s Harry Meade, who scooped the Glentrool Trophy for the the horse and rider whose final position shows the greatest improvement on their dressage placing.

Harry, riding Wild Lone, was in 78= place after the dressage with 63.3pens, rising to 47th with just 64.9pens after cross country and ultimately finishing in 37th after one down in the show jumping and a total score of 68.9.

Another locally-based rider who did extraordinarily well was Tiana Coudray, representing USA.

Tiana, who is currently training at fellow eventer Nick Gauntlett’s yard in Chipping Sodbury, dropped from tenth to seventeenth position after two unfortunate fences down in the show jumping phase.

And despite there being neither a Grand Slam winner nor Olympic Champion holding up the trophy, Badminton director and cross-country course designer Hugh Thomas was very happy at the way the four-day event turned out:“This is sport at its very highest level and everything has gone very, very well.“We’ve had the most fun we possibly could, with superb conditions, superb competitors and a superb competition.” 

The top five in this year’s Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials are:

1 Jonathan Paget and Clifton Promise NZL (39.7)

2 Michael Jung and La Biosthetique-Sam GER (40)

3 Andrew Nicholson and Nereo NZL (40.2)

4 Sandra Auffarth and Opgun Louvo GER (42.5)

5 William Fox-Pitt and Parklane Hawk GBR (44)