Gahhhh Badminton finished over a week ago and I still haven't finished recapping the event - so much fail!! I had a beyond epic weekend that involved much Royal Wedding revelry, my first Oxford ball, and some dusk to dawn continuous partying. Clare, my good friend from Stanny, is studying abroad in Paris this term and also came up and visited, which made everything considerably more epic. Somewhere between all that I had two 10 page papers to write and two tutorials to attend. Bottom line, I didn't really get the chance to sit down and update the blog for a while - whoops!!
(Me (in the grey and white striped fleece and the panama hat on the right) in my sweet spot among the pros, cradling Panda and waiting for the jog to begin!)
I learned my lesson from Thursday, where I'd shown up just before and been shafted way over to the side of the lane between the two ladies from Japan who didn't really speak much English (and who were surprisingly pushy). This time I got there almost an hour early and was rewarded with a primo head-on shot of the lane.
(and so I was able to get shots like this of Lauren Shannon and Quixotic - sweet!)
It was a real treat to get to see so many horses looking so wonderful even after such a big test yesterday. There had been a lot of controversy over how tired a lot of horses looked at the end of the course on Sunday (including leader Mark Todd's NZB Land Vision, who trotted and almost got stuck on one of the logs at the last big combination at the Quarry), but I think the trot up was a great testament to how fit and well-prepared they actually were.
(Step in Time, who I developed a real crush on over the weekend - what a cheeky little beast)
(Carrera looking so genuine)
(Wild Lone looking irresistible - and his rider didn't look too shabby either!)
(James Robinson and Comanche - Badminton fixtures)
I read somewhere, I think a quote from Andrew Nicholson in Horse & Hound, that the short format tires the horse just as much on endurance day as the old long format tests, but that they can bounce back more quickly. I have no idea if that's actually true (I have my reservations - and since Andrew Nicholson had some of the more tired horses in the show jumping, it's not clear how successful his approach was), but there did certainly to be some evidence for it on Monday.
(Opposition Buzz, THE LEGEND!)
It was sad to see only Hawley, Selena, and Buck left of the North American crew. That being said, they all jogged very well (though I missed Selena's big smile from Thursday!), and I still get a big kick out of Buck's choice of conservative suit... with red and yellow polka dotted socks. Way to sneak the ol' cross country colors in!
After the jogs, it was a quick run up to the media center for one last chance to take advantage of as much free stuff as I could possibly wheedle out of them (in this case, about four bottles of sparkling water, fruit, and some diet cokes - dying of win). While there, I managed to spot a sign up for a tour of the show jumping course with the course designer before it had filled and snapped up one of the last spots. It was so cool to get to walk the course with the designer himself and hear his reasoning behind the placement of the track. Plus, we were there during the official coursewalk, and so got to walk the lines with the likes of William Fox-Pitt and Mary King - talk about a dream moment!!
(The CD explains the first double)
After that, it was just a few minutes before the start of the show jumping, and the end of my Badminton experience. Since I don't want to admit that it's truly over, I'm going to hold out for one more day to do the show jumping recap. Hopefully I can get a real night of sleep tonight for the first time since last Wednesday!
(What a handsome rogue)