Chatsworth is under the Olympic spotlight

Badminton horse trials events director Hugh Thomas inspects an area of the course as the Badminton horse trials fell victim to the weather, with organisers announcing the equestrian competition had been cancelled as the ground was "totally waterlogged and partially flooded" following the heavy rain. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Badminton horse trials events director Hugh Thomas inspects an area of the course as the Badminton horse trials fell victim to the weather, with organisers announcing the equestrian competition had been cancelled as the ground was "totally waterlogged and partially flooded" following the heavy rain. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
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OLYMPIC hopefuls from all over the world were due to ride at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials this weekend.

But following the cancellation of the event due to the ground being waterlogged, team managers are now busy re-routing their riders to other competitions as they prepare to make their final selections for Greenwich.

One event likely to be in the spotlight now is Chatsworth Horse Trials in Derbyshire, due to take place from May 11-13.

Great Britain’s performance manager Yogi Breisner, who has just returned from the Rolex Kentucky three-day event, said he did not think Olympic preparations would be adversely affected by the cancellation of Badminton.

The organisers announced on Monday that the competition was being abandoned as there was “no chance” of the ground drying in time following persistent rain and more forecast for this week.

Competition should have started today for riders in the Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots Championships. This gives amater riders the chance to compete at this famous venue after qualifying at a number of regional events.

A spokeswoman for British Eventing said they hoped to re-schedule the championships to another event and were looking at suitable options.

The main four-star competition was due to start on Friday with two days of dressage, followed by the cross- country on Sunday and the final show-jumping phase on Monday. Yorkshire’s Oliver Townend had been drawn first to compete on the opening day.

British selectors are due to announce their long list of Olympic hopefuls towards the end of this month and Badminton would have been an important showcase for them.

Back-up plans are being made and Breisner said: “It is a real shame that it has been called off, especially in an Olympic year when a lot of the riders and horses would have been on show.

“I don’t think it will majorly affect the Olympic preparations, though. We always had contingency plans in place which you have to do with horses because there is so much uncertainty. You have to have a plan B, C and D.”

Britain will send a team of five to London with William Fox-Pitt, Mary King, Piggy French and Yorkshire’s Nicola Wilson all likely to have a place. The fifth place remains open and attention is likely to focus on Chatsworth.

“Some horses will be re-routed for that. We had already targeted it as an important competition,” said Breisner.

Leading riders who have already entered include Fox-Pitt, Tina Cook, King, Zara Phillips, French, Lucy Wiegersma and Ruth Edge.

This is the first time Badminton has been cancelled since the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 2001. People who bought advance tickets, sponsors and riders will all be refunded as soon as possible.