The superb New Zealand horsewoman Caroline Powell jumped her way to a historic victory at the MARS Badminton Horse Trials in Gloucestershire on the occasion of the event’s 75th anniversary.

Caroline, 51, and Chris and Michelle Mann’s Greenacres Special Cavalier crept steadily up the leaderboard from sixth place after cross-country with one of only four clear rounds.

“I wasn’t ready for that,” gasped Caroline “I thought third place would be great, but to win – wow. It’s awesome and it means so much – I’m not in my youth and just to get a horse to this stage is difficult enough, but to win – I can’t believe it.”

A woman on a grey horse in a grass ring.

Canada’s Jessica Phoenix and Wabbit finished 30th with 98.1pp. (HPAG photo)

Ireland’s Lucy Latta made a dream Badminton debut to finish second on Leslie Crampton’s RCA Patron Saint and former farrier and rugby player Alex Bragg from Somerset climbed stratospherically from an original 60th place after dressage to finish third and best British rider on the Roe family’s mare Quindiva.

“What a week,” said Lucy. A one-horse rider with a full-time job as marketing manager for a drinks company, she is now the highest-placed Irish rider since Eddie Boylan won in 1965. “I made a total rider error at the third fence [which they had down], but my horse was phenomenal this week and I feel there’s loads more to come for him.”

Alex Bragg’s previous best result at Badminton was 36th. “This is a local event for me [he is based in Somerset], but I have had some bad luck here,” he explained. “To be in the top ten was my dream, so I am speechless – for the first time ever. For me, Badminton and Burghley are jumping events and sometimes it can be anybody’s game.”

The top two after cross-country, Tim Price and William Fox-Pitt, both had expensive show jumping rounds, dropping to eighth and 13th places respectively amid a clatter of poles – five for Tim, whose horse Vitali is a notoriously poor showjumper, and six for William on Grafennacht.

It was not the career ending William, winner of 14 five-star events and a former number one, would have wished for. “At least I did it properly,” he joked graciously. “I should have pulled the plug yesterday, but I have lived with a few moments in my career and it will all be fine tomorrow. I’m 55, I’m in one piece and I’ve been lucky.”

Emily King, whose mother Mary is a dual Badminton winner, achieved her first Badminton completion in style, finishing fourth on Valmy Biats, and Tom Jackson was fifth on the consistent Capels Hollow Drift.

Jonelle Price, the first New Zealand woman to win Badminton, in 2018, was sixth on Grappa Nera, Tom Rowland had his best Badminton result in seventh place on Dreamliner, Pippa Funnell was masterful throughout on the inexperienced MCS Maverick to finish ninth and Bubby Upton, who only returned to the saddle in January after a serious injury, jumped clear on Cola to round off the top 10.

Caroline Powell first came to Britain as a groom for triple Badminton winner Ian Stark. She won Burghley in 2010 on Lenamore and has won two team bronze medals for New Zealand, in 2010 and at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Greenacres Special Cavalier is an Irish-bred, 11-year-old mare by Cavalier Royale, bred in Ireland by Michael Callery. Caroline first sat on her as a youngster. “You can have a good horse [Lenamore] and then you can disappear. ‘Cav’ has had her tricky moments, but to be here, winning Badminton, is a dream come true.”

For final results, click HERE.