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Keyflow Stage1v3

Locally trained Newbury star De Rasher Counter now has a full brother


With the birth of a foal at Karina Casini's national hunt stud farm near Marlborough, the winner of Newbury Racecourse's 2019 Ladbrokes Trophy Chase De Rasher Counter has gained a full brother.  

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COVID-19 RESPONSE: Newbury Racecourse adds kitchens, staff & more to meet meals on wheels demand for vulnerable elderly in…

09-04-2020 A Correspondent

Just because there is no racing, Newbury Racecourse have not stopped helping their neighbours.  They have launched a partnership with Age Concern Newbury & District and Swift Couriers to feed the most vulnerable elderly in West Berkshire during the COVID-19 crisis.  

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Eventing: another cancellation


The 2020 Houghton International Horse Trials - scheduled for May 21-24 - have been cancelled.

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Season over for Paisley Park


Ogbourne Maizey trainer Emma Lavelle has told the Daily Mirror that Paisley Park will not race again this season.

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Patagonian adventure: Clare King comes second in the first Gaucho Derby


Clare King is now home at Barbury Castle from her adventurous ride in Patagonia - back to husband jumps trainer Neil King and their two children.  And back to the rigours of the coronavirus - the effects of which she had not heard about while in deepest Patagonia - and...

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Coronavirus: Barbury Racecourse loses second point-to-point as season is shut down

17-03-2020 Russell Smith

Point-to-point racing in Britain has been shut down for the 2019-20 season - due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Event Rider Masters cancels 2020 series due to Impact of coronavirus pandemic


Before the 2020 eventing season in Britain has even started, it has been dealt a severe blow with the cancellation of the 2020 running of international Event Rider Masters competition - due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

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Greatwood Charity's Newbury events re-scheduled - amateur riders race & their raceday


As Newbury will be racing 'behind closed doors' this coming weekend, the charity race re-scheduled for Saturday, 21 March will NOT now take place.  The Greatwood Charity has two new Newbury Racecourse dates for your diaries - Saturday, 21 March and Saturday, 16 May.  

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Brian Meehan launches racing club for 2020's Flat season - the horse has been chosen but not his name


Manton trainer Brian Meehan is launching a new syndicate in the form of a racing club for the new Flat season and on Saturday (February 29) members and potential members were at a special open day to see the chosen, unnamed two-year old.

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Newbury's Mencap meeting: Pipe ponders Cheltenham targets for Brinkley and Richard Johnson's winning again

01-03-2020 Emma Blackburn

David Pipe is eyeing potential Cheltenham Festival targets for Brinkley after the five-year-old Martaline gelding produced an eye-catching performance in landing the West Berkshire Mencap “National Hunt” Novices’ Handicap Hurdle at Newbury on Friday (February 28).

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Devizes eventer Coral Keen to wear the British flag in first team call up  

Coral Keen with Derby Coral Keen with Derby Wiltshire event rider Coral Keen has been asked to compete for Great Britain next week (September 24-27) in the CICO3* competition at Waregem in Belgium as part of the British Nations Cup team - and she is really looking forward to the challenge.

It will be the first time the 28-year-old from Devizes has worn the British flag when she partners her 11-year-old gelding Wellshead Fare Opposition - known as Derby -  with whom she achieved a top 20 placing at Luhmuhlen and finished in twelfth place in the CIC3* at Hartpury.

After disappointment at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials held earlier this month in Lincolnshire, where she was unseated at the Cottesmore Leap, the call up has come as a welcome tonic: “It just proves that every cloud has a silver lining. Derby was going so well at Burghley, jumping all the technical combinations beautifully."

"We came to the Cottesmore Leap on the wrong stride and he hit the back bar, catapulting me out of the saddle. We had to have a cross-country training session with team selector Yogi Breisner, just to check Derby was a hundred per cent and hadn’t lost any confidence. But he was raring to go and as full of himself as ever and I’m so pleased to have been given this opportunity."  

Coral has brought Derby on since he was a four-year-old, progressing him through the ranks from BE100 level up to four star, which is the highest eventing level any horse and rider combination can compete at.  Coral is based at Little Cheverell - south of Devizes.

Last week, at Gatcombe International, Coral won the CIC1* with Cascadelle, a six-year-old she started training as a three year-old: “She was absolutely amazing doing a beautiful dressage test and then jumping a double clear. She just popped round the cross-country and gave me such a lovely ride."

"She’s such an exciting prospect for the future so we’ll keep carefully plotting her career with the aim of competing at the highest level.”

Cascadelle will also be heading to Waregem where she will run in the CIC* along with her stable mate Highmead Proposition: “We were supposed to be going to South of England, but as soon a s I was offered the chance to ride on a Nations Cup team, a leapt at it, and decided to re-route these horses there too. It’ll be a very busy week but I am really looking forward to it."

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Dogged by bad luck, New Zealand eventers drop out of Olympic team medals

Clarke Johnstone - could he get an individual medal?Clarke Johnstone - could he get an individual medal?On Thursday (August 11) Sarah Dalziell-Clout, New Zealand's High Performance Director, sent Marlborough. News this summary of their eventing competition: "I think it's fair to say it's been a roller-coaster of a week for the team with Jock's Clifton Lush injuring himself, Tim's unfortunate fall, the teams' high after a dramatic day of cross country where the renowned Kiwi cross country riding skills came to the fore - followed by the dramatic ups and downs of our show-jumping day."

"Obviously the team is really disappointed and feeling quite flat with our final results, but also realistic that such is our sport  - the highs and lows come around thick and fast and with just a little luck on our side we could have been coming away with gold."

"Last night the horses flew out and are enroute home to their UK bases - the riders will follow suit over the next few days."

It was a very close run thing - as the New Zealand Equestrian tweet said "So so close". 

The New Zealand team - four of the five who travelled to Rio are based around Marlborough - could only make it to fourth place after the show jumping - the final of the three disciplines.

As the show jumping drew to a close, Sir Mark Todd could have had one rail down and the New Zealand team would have won gold.  Todd - competing in his seventh Olympics - and Leonidas II had four rails down.  Todd said afterwards that his horse was simply not relaxed.

In her show jumping round, Jonelle Price had two rails down with Faerie Dianimo and New Zealand based Clarke Johnstone with Balmoral Sensation went sensationally clear.  

The team had been dogged by bad luck.  Jock Paget's horse was hurt in a freak stable accident and his replacement Tim Price and his horse Ringwood Skyboy slipped and fell during the cross country and were eliminated.

As a New Zealand reporter put it: "That's the nature of our sport.  It's ruthless.  It requires a bit of luck on top of all that skill."

The gold medal went to France after Astier Nicolas - who is based near Calne - rode a brilliant clear round. Germany took the silver and Australia the bronze - just 3.5 penalty points ahead of New Zealand.  Great Britain were fifth.

At the end of the first round of the shopwjumping - which settles the team medals - Clarke Johnstone was still in sight of an individual medal.  It all depended on the second round.

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Down at the start with Gary Witheford - ‘the stalls man’ who gives racehorses the chance to win


Gary Witheford at the startGary Witheford at the startThe 5.10 race at Pontefract on Monday, October 6, passed off without much fanfare.  But the result was a major victory for Witheford Equine of Burbage – the three-year-old gelding Dubai Star not only went safely into the starting stalls, but won at odds of 11-2.

It was Dubai Star’s first race and for this ‘tricky’ horse getting there had been quite a journey. He was bred in Ireland and bought as a yearling for 170,000 guineas: not an outrageous price paid for a horse sired by Dubawi out of Tango Tonic.

Dubai Star is owned by HRH Princess Haya of Jordan (wife of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Godolphin Racing fame) and trained at Newmarket by John Gosden. Last month at a Kempton Park evening meeting, Dubai Star was to race for the first time with Gosden’s stable jockey William Buick on board.

It was not a star race – with a total prize fund of just £4,000.  But the three-year-old needed a race in case he was sent for the October sales or there was a need to convince his owner he should be kept in training to race next season.

Gary Witheford had been asked by Gosden to get him ready for the starting stalls.  Gary had been to Newmarket several times to calm the horse and practise getting him quietly into the starting stalls.

Dubai Star goes into the stalls Dubai Star goes into the stalls After his usual negotiations with the racecourse officials at Kempton, Gary was down by the start for 6.10pm race ‘The £25 Free Bet at Maiden Stakes”: “It’s going into the gladiator ring – it’s a challenge every time.  When it comes off it’s great.”

Gary draped Dubai Star’s hindquarters with one of the lightly padded stalls rugs he designed himself to stop horses bumping their ribs or stifles on the stalls.  The rug is designed to stay behind when the horse jumps out of the stalls.

He led Dubai Star in perfectly easily and the horse looked quite calm: “The calmer I am, the calmer the horse will be. But I am firm.”

Gary keeping Dubai Star calmGary keeping Dubai Star calmBut behind the stalls things were going badly with some of the other entries.  One horse never made it into the stalls at all and another went in most unwillingly – delaying the start by crucial minutes.

After about four minutes waiting, Gary had to move out of the stall beside Dubai Star where he had been reassuring the horse and making it feel comfortable.  

A cross Dubai Star taken out of the stallsA cross Dubai Star taken out of the stallsThen, when the delay reached about six minutes, Dubai Star had had more than enough and reared up hitting his head on the top bar of the stalls.  Gary pulled Buick clear.  The horse was brought out backwards and the race started without him.

Gary was very despondent.  And people I spoke to as we made our way back from the start were indignant there had been such a long delay.  As one punter put it: “That was a most unfair way to treat a jumpy horse.”

Driving back to Burbage Gary was pretty depressed: “I’m a perfectionist.  That’ll screw me up for a week.”  John Gosden came on the phone and was calm and understanding about the unfortunate start to Dubai Star’s racing career. His calm voice must have taken some of the sting out of Gary’s anguish.

A disconsolate Gary leads Dubai Star away from the startA disconsolate Gary leads Dubai Star away from the startGary told Gosden he wanted to put Dubai Star through a stalls test.  That took place ten days later at Newmarket.  It’s a test in front of race officials and the horse has to enter the stalls and stand quietly for one minute.  Dubai Star passed the test and would be allowed to enter another race.

And so he was entered for that Pontefract race to be ridden by Roger Havlin, understudy to stable jockey Buick at Gosden’s Clarehaven yard.  And there to see Dubai  Star successfully into the stalls was Gary Witheford’s son, Craig.

Now he has conquered his fear of the starting stalls, he could well be a horse to watch next season.

At most of Britain’s racecourses and many overseas courses too, Gary Witheford is well known to owners, starters, stalls teams, trainers – he is often known as “the stalls man”.   He has made a successful business out of calming wilful horses and getting them to go quietly into the starting stalls.

The practise stalls on the gallopsThe practise stalls on the gallopsIn fact, Gary Witheford’s company, Witheford Equine, does much more than train horses for the stalls and attend at the start of flat races.  And though he prefers the term ‘natural horsemanship’ for his skills, he is a ‘horse whisperer’ – it says so on the cover of his fascinating book.

Trainers also use Gary to ‘break in’ young horses.  That is another term Gary would rather we did not use: he prefers ‘starting’ young horses. As during his process he does not ‘break’ anything.  He can do in twenty minutes or so what takes several weeks by traditional ways of ‘breaking’ horses and he ‘starts’ between 400 and 500 young horses a year....and they're off!...and they're off!

Trainers send their horses to Gary’s yard near Burbage – sometimes just for the morning and sometimes for residential care.  They are shown how easy it is to go into the stalls.  Then they go up to Gary’s gallops and get to jump out of the stalls at full stretch.

Not happy with the stallsNot happy with the stallsOne day when I was at the yard he had a really very unruly horse from a local trainer.  This horse played up terribly in the stalls – so much so that it scraped itself a little.  But Gary was determined to see it right.

The vet was called, but the horse was none the worse for his tantrum and would be coming back to get Witheford Equine’s whispering treatment.  One day he too will go on and win a race – at Pontefract or some other racecourse where Gary and Craig are trying to show the authorities that there are other ways of getting horses into the starting stalls than by manhandling them in like some many sacks of potatoes.

You can find out more about Gary Witheford’s technique and about his new book here at Marlborough News Online.


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Eventer Laura Collett takes gold in world championship - but William Fox-Pitt is injured in fall


Laura Collett walking the course at Barbury (July 2015)Laura Collett walking the course at Barbury (July 2015)British eventer Laura Collett, who used to be based at Membury and is now at Lambourn, and the Holsteiner gelding Mr Bass have won the title for seven-year-old horses in the FEI World Breeding Federation Eventing Championships for Young Horses 2015 at Le Lion d’Angers in France.  But after a fall in the competition, William Fox-Pitt remains in hospital with head injuries.

The top German rider, Michael Jung on Fischerincantas - another Holsteiner - won the gold medal in the competition for six-year-old horses.
These Championships have been held annually since 1992, and this year 103 horses were entered representing a wide range of studbooks.

Collett was in seventh place after the dressage and had moved up to fourth by the end of the cross-country phase.  She clinched the title with a perfect show jumping round.

The cross-country course proved tricky for the seven-year-olds.  But 34 of the 67 starters went clear - adding no penalties to their dressage scores.  Two combinations retired on the course and 12 were eliminated.

William Fox-Pitt at Barbury (2015) William Fox-Pitt at Barbury (2015) Among the latter was Britain's most successful eventer, William Fox-Pitt who was thrown when his horse Reinstated hit the Owl Hole obstacle towards the end of the course.  

He was taken to Angers hospital with head injuries.   

Forty-six year old Fox-Pitt, who has four children and is married to Channel 4 racing presenter Alice Plunkett, was said to be in a stable condition.  

The Wednesday afternoon update (at 4.24 pm, October 21) on the eventer's official website said: "We have this afternoon received the update that William’s condition remains the same with no change overnight. He is still sedated and under constant observation."


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Eventing: Jonelle Price leads after first dressage day at Boekelo as New Zealand chase Rio qualification

Day two: with the dreassage stage complete, Jonelle Price is still in the lead.  But Germany's Bettina Hoy is now in second place - 3.50 points behind Ms Price.  The end of day two sees other members of the New Zealnd team falling behind:  Jesse Campbell is in 12th place - Tim Price in 40th - and Daniel Jocelyn in 72nd place.

After day one (Thursday, October 8) of the dressage phase of the CIC3 eventing competition at Boekelo in the Netherlands, Mildenhall-based Jonelle Price is in the lead.  Forty-four of the 85 competitors have completed the dressage.

This is an important competition for the New Zealand eventing team as they go for the only team place at the Rio Olympics available to Group G nations - which takes in Oceania and South-East Asia.  

New Zealand takes on Japan and Australia for that single team place, although the latter have already qualified by virtue of their placing at last year's World Equestrian Games.

Jonelle is riding eight-year-old black gelding Cloud Dancer - known as Marley.  Her very low dressage score of 34.10 is 4.80 points above her nearest rival - Britain's Pippa Funnell on Billy the Biz.

Jonelle and Marley's latest victory came in the CIC3* for 8-9 year-olds at the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials last month.  Ranked fifth in the world, Price finished second at the four-star Luhmuhlen in Germany and fifth at Burghley.

Also in the New Zealand team at Boekelo are Dan Jocelyn on Dassett Cool Touch (currently lying at 36), Tim Price on Xavier Faer and Jesse Campbell aboard Kaapachino.  Tim Price and Jesse Campbell 's dressage competition will be on Friday.

If the New Zealand team do not clinch the Rio place at Boekelo, they will have to wait for the international rankings to see if they go to Brazil.

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Don Cossack heads handicap for Newbury's star-studded Hennessy Gold Cup - but will he run?

With the weights revealed for the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on the third and final day of the bet365 Festival, (Saturday, November 28), punters will be looking closely at Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Coneygree's allotment of 11st 9lb.

The race over three and a quarter miles taking in twenty-one fences, was first run at Newbury in 1960.   Fifty-nine entries remain - eight of them Irish trained.  Cue Card has already scratched.

The weights for the famous £200,000 handicap chase are headed by Irish star Don Cossack (11st 12lb), but as they look set to rise by 3lb his trainer Gordon Elliott has indicated that the eight-year-old is almost certain not to run.
Likely top-weight Coneygree, trained near Wantage by Mark Bradstock, is the 9/2 favourite with bet365 after a towering 25-length victory on his seasonal debut in the Listed Future Stars Chase over three miles at Sandown Park on November 8.
The eight-year-old, still unbeaten over fences, will try to emulate fellow Gold Cup winner Denman. Denman defied 11st 12lb and a mammoth rating of 174 to win his second Hennessy Gold Cup in 2009, having also scored under top-weight for his first victory in 2007.
Denman's trainer Paul Nicholls, the champion Jump trainer, appears to be the biggest danger to Coneygree with Saphir Du Rheu (11st). The six-year-old made an inauspicious start over fences last season, but got his act together at Aintree in April and beat The Young Master (Neil Mulholland, 10st 1lb) on his comeback at Carlisle on November 1.
Nicholls' eight entries also include RSA Chase runner-up Southfield Theatre (10st 5lb), who was no match for Coneygree off level weights at Sandown Park, and bet365 Gold Cup victor Just A Par (9st 13lb).

Local interest centres on the Alan King trained eight-year-old grey Smad Place - sixteenth in the weight list at 10st 6lb and one of three King entries with Annacotty (9st 12lb) and Ned Stark (9st 5lb).  On November 2, Smad Place won a chase at Kempton beating Fingal Bay by eight lengths.

And soon-to-be-local Emma Lavelle has an entry with Fox Appeal (10st 3lb.)
Many will be watching for Houblon Des Obeaux (10st 7lb, Venetia Williams) who conceded weight all round when runner-up to Many Clouds (Oliver Sherwood, 11st 4lb) in the terrific 2014 renewal of the Hennessy Gold Cup.  Many Clouds went on to win the Crabbie's Grand National.
Houblon Des Obeaux returned to Newbury in February to chase home Coneygree in the Grade Two Betfair Denman Chase and ran respectably behind the same rival in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, coming sixth.
He is set to contest the Hennessy Gold Cup for the third time in 2015, having stayed on to be sixth in 2013. Houblon Des Obeaux made his seasonal reappearance at Ascot on October 31, finishing ninth in a Grade Three handicap chase under top-weight - and he has not won a race since December 2013.
In-form Herefordshire-based trainer Venetia Williams reported: "The plan is to go for the Hennessy Gold Cup again with Houblon Des Obeaux and he looks set to carry a bit less weight than what he is used to."
"I don't think the weight affected him too much on his seasonal reappearance at Ascot, but the ground wasn't really what he wants as it was a bit quick."
"He prefers it softer as when there is more give it just slows down the pace which suits him. He always seems to run well at Newbury."
Another favourite entered for this year's race is 2012 Hennessy Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth (Nicky Henderson, 10st 4lb) who won over hurdles at Aintree recently.
Hennessy Gold Cup - bet365 bet: 9/2 Coneygree; 5/1 Saphir du Rheu; 10/1 Vroum Mag; 11/1 Don Poli; 12/1 Don Cossack, Smad Place, Bobs Worth, Pendra; 14/1 Valseur Lido; 16/1 Dynaste, Ballynagour, The Druids Nephew, Kings Palace, The Young Master; 20/1 Sam Winner, Southfield Theatre, Virak, Fingal Bay, Monetaire, Ned Stark; 25/1 Menorah, Rocky Creek, Unioniste, Spring Heeled, Le Reve, If In Doubt, Just A Par, Benbens, Sausalito Sunrise, Easter Day, Urano; 33/1 The Giant Bolster, Houblon des Obeaux, Triolo d'Alene, Un Ace, Splash of Ginge, Ballycasey, First Lieutenant, Carole's Destrier, Cloudy Too, Present View, Deputy Dan, Theatre Guide, La Vaticane; 40/1 Fox Appeal, Annacotty, Lost Legend, Royal Player; 50/1 Seventh Sky, Al Co, Horizontal Speed, Godsmejudge, No Buts, Algernon Pazham, Cogry, Saroque, Mountainous, African Gold
The 2015 bet365 Festival runs for three days from Thursday, November 26.  For more details and tickets, please visit the Newbury Racecourse website or call 01635 40015.

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Eventer Chelsea Pearce long listed for British junior squad at European Championships

Chelsea Pearce and Albert VI Chelsea Pearce and Albert VI For Marlborough event rider Chelsea Pearce the St James's Place Barbury International Horse Trials (7-120 July) will be a very significant event.

Chelsea Pearce and her horse Albert VI have been long listed for the British Junior Squad at the European Championships.  Her listing came after she won fifth place in the British Junior Championships at Brand Hall in Shropshire.

The Long List squad now have to compete in the CIC** competition at Barbury and again at the end of July in the Open Intermediate Under 21 (OIu21) competition at Cholmondeeley Castle in Cheshire.  

The Long List currently includes twelve combinations - and these will be whittled down to the final six-strong team at the Wellington (Hampshire) OIu21 competition over the August Bank Holiday.

The FEI Junior European Championships are being held at Montelibretto in Italy at the end of September.

Chelsea told Marlborough.News: "I am delighted to make the Long List. Albert was foot perfect at Brand Hall and has been very consistent so far this season."

"I am fully aware that the hard work starts now and I will be doing everything I can to try and make the final six. My Sponsors have been so supportive and I can’t thank them enough: Ariat, Aqueos, Haygain Hay Steamers and Longcroft Building Services."

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Eventer Tim Price's Wesko will miss Rio - and the rest of the season

Tim Price on Wesko at Luhmuhlen 2014 (photo: K.HOFFMANN)Tim Price on Wesko at Luhmuhlen 2014 (photo: K.HOFFMANN)Mildenhall-based eventer Tim Price has suffered a blow to his and New Zealand's hopes for the Rio Olympics: his star horse Wesko is injured and will be out of action for the remainder of the season.

Wesko is one of three horses Tim Price has on the New Zealand High Performance Squad.  It is reported that the 13-year-old Dutch-bred horse has suffered a 'significant' soft tissue injury.

This weekend Wesko was going to travel to Kentucky for the prestigious Lexington 4* Rolex competition, in which he took second place last year.  Price will ride Bango at the Kentucky event.

Tim Price said he was disappointed and saddened not to be taking Wesko to Kentucky.  He told NZ Horse and Pony: "He has gone his whole life so far 100 per cent injury-free. It’s really poor timing, and it is not cool for the team, and not cool for me either, but it is what it is."

This is a second blow for the New Zealand Olympic selectors: rider Jock Paget announced a week ago that his stalwart Clifton Promise - part of the bronze medal winning team in 2012 - was being retired.  He will ride Clifton Signature at Kentucky.

Tim Price won the Luhmuhlen 4* event on Wesko in 2014.  And in 2015, as Marlborough.News reported, Wesko was named British Eventing's Horse of the Year.

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Eventing: do Badminton four star results give clues for Olympic team selections?

Michael Jung with the Mitsubishi Motors Trophy (photo courtesy: Badminton Horse Trials) Michael Jung with the Mitsubishi Motors Trophy (photo courtesy: Badminton Horse Trials) Germany's Michael Jung riding La Biosthetique took the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials 2016 four star title - coming home nine points clear of his fellow German Andreas Ostholt on So Is Et.  

His win completed the treble of winning Burghley, Kentucky and Badminton - making Jung only the second winner ever of the £240,000 Rolex Grand Slam prize.

New Zealand's Olympic hopes got a boost with their riders taking fourth, fifth, sixth and tenth places.  Marlborough based Sir Mark Todd took Leonidas II into fourth place - aged 60 will he be going to his seventh Olympics?

Todd was followed by fellow Kiwis Clarke Johnston (fifth), Jonathan Paget (sixth) and Mildenhall based Jonelle Price (tenth).  Jonelle's husband Tim Price was eliminated when he came off Ringwood Sky Boy during the cross country.

New Zealand's Blyth Tait came in at thirteenth place and Jess Campbell was placed at thirty-three.

Jonelle Price's horse Classic Moet - or Molly - was in great form and the pair were one of only ten combinations to come within the allotted time in the cross country.  In the final show jumping stage of the competition, Molly was described as being 'on springs' - with just four faults. 

Molly has now won her own Badminton silver horse and will not feel overawed by Ringwood Sky Boy's trophy when he and Tim came ninth.

Among other headlines:  Great Britain's Gemma Tattersall - who had never been higher in the Badminton results than sixteenth - took third place on Arctic Soul and Zara Tindall rode High Kingdom - who she rode so successfully at the 2012 Olympics - into twenty-third place to give her qualification for the Rio Olympics.

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