Badminton, the world’s largest annual three-day equestrian event, starts today.
As well as being one of the world’s leading three day eventing competitions, this year it is also a crucial event for the British equestrian team looking to finalise their Beijing squad.
Hopefuls include former world-champion Zara Phillips; Mary King; Pippa Funnell; Daisy Dick; Lucy Wiegersma and Tina Cook.
Zara Phillips is hoping for a better event this year, after withdrawing last year because of fears that the firm ground may harm her injury prone horse, Toytown.
Event organisers have since invested £100,000 into the course to avoid any repeats of last year. Phillips is not riding on Toytown this year; instead she has two rides, Glenbuck and Ardfield Magic Star.
Mary King, another strong contender for the Beijing Olympics, will mount Imperial Cavalier and Apache Sauce.
Pippa Funnell, who took silver and individual bronze back in Athens, will need an excellent result to join Phillips and King this summer. Her horse for this event will be Ensign, a horse that has had few results at Championship level to date.
Daisy Dick, Lucy Wiegersma and Tina Cook, amongst others, will be battling it out with Funnell for the three remaining spots.
Dick won European gold last year and will be riding Spring Along. Newcomer Wiegersma is looking to make her mark on Shaabrak, whilst Tina Cook will give her top horse Miners Frolic a rest, and is opting to ride First Flight instead.
The build-up of this weekend’s competition will be shown live on the BBC – on Saturday from 11:00 on BBCi (red button), the BBC Sport website and Sunday 4th May with Clare Balding at 13:00 – 15:00 on BBC2.
David Tabor, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine