Badminton Horse Trials victory – her inside story

  • Think you know everything about Badminton Horse Trials winner Laura Collett and her win at the British Spring Classic? Check out these nine glimpses of her winning week with London 52 (Dan) at the event, presented by Mars Equestrian.

    1. Laura asked for the same stable as in 2011 when she finished eighth in her badminton debut with Rayef and the team kindly gave it to her.

    “That was my greatest fortune in badminton, plus I felt it was the most special and tranquil place to be accommodated, which would suit Dan,” says Laura on episode 103 of The Horse & Hound Podcast, supported by NAF Five Star Superflex.

    2. Laura and her groom, Tilly Hughes, stayed in their truck. Her mother Tracey came in every day with Karen Bartlett, who owns London 52 with Keith Scott and Laura. Karen ran the Horse Trials Support Group tent.

    3. She made a careful plan to get to the main arena for her dressage test.

    “I think if you go all the way to the main arena for your test you can lose a horse’s mind because there’s so much to see, with the crowd and the big screen, so I just went the first bit and then jogged all the way so Dan would listen and focus,” she says.

    4. She has walked the course several times, including with sponsors, with Yogi Breisner (one of her trainers) and with Tilly.

    “I found explaining my plan to Tilly really helpful — the verbalization allowed me to focus and think, ‘This is what I want to do,'” she says.

    5. Laura structured her cross-country warm-up based on what she did at the Tokyo Olympics last year.

    She explains, “In Tokyo we jumped all the horses early on the cross-country day before it got too hot and then did a minimal warm-up. Dan can get a little nervous and that worked out well – he felt great – thought I’d try again. I jumped five or six cross country fences early and was surprised at how many people were pouring in at 7am. Even then there was a buzz.”

    6. Tilly and Laura’s friend Hannah Vowles walked up to her as she was being held on course and grabbed buckets of water so they could wash Dan down.

    “I was very relieved to see some friendly faces as it feels very lonely out there on the pitch,” she says. “There were a lot of people who were all nice and said nice things, but really all you want to do is focus on what you have left to do.”

    7. Laura only got about 45 minutes of sleep on Saturday night… and cried non-stop for two hours when she woke up on Sunday.

    “I suddenly realized what was happening … and I thought all day about waiting to jump to see how it would end,” she says.

    8. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, she felt very ill on Sunday.

    “I had to force myself to eat as I knew I wouldn’t be jumping until 4pm. My friend Suzi Cooper sat with me and took me to dinner and she said it looked like I was doing a bushtucker trial because I just wanted to get sick,” she says.

    9. One of the first things she did when she got in her truck to drive home was watch her show jump.

    “The round felt terrible. After I saw it, I just looked at Tilly and said, “Thank God it didn’t look as bad as it felt.” He’s an exceptional horse and made me look good,” she says.

    Hear more from Laura Collett on her successful week at the Badminton Horse Trials by tuning in to episode 103 of The horse & dog Podcast here, or search “The Horse & Hound Podcast” in your favorite podcast app.

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