Badminton Horse Trials 2024: Bubby Upton and Cola Come Out on Top after Dressage Day 1

Upton, Martin, and Coudray finish in the top three at Badminton following the first day of dressage competition.
Great Britain’s Bubby Upton and her German-Bred Holstein gelding Cola finished in the lead after the first day of dressage competition at the 2024 Badminton Horse Trials. Courtesy, Mars Badminton Horse Trials

May 9, 2024—British rider Bubby Upton was emotional at finding herself the early leader after the first morning of dressage at the 2024 Badminton Horse Trials. Last year, she suffered a serious fall at home, breaking several vertebrae.

“If you had told me seven months ago that I would be here at Badminton, I wouldn’t have believed it after what we have been through,” she said tearfully, after scoring 27.3 on Cola.

Upton faced months of rehabilitation, working with the Injured Jockeys Fund, following her accident.

“Subconsciously, I always wanted to be at Badminton, but at first, I was learning to walk. When I started riding, at the start of the year, I kept falling off at the side, and my first jump was very painful,” Upton recalled. “I just kept pushing and dreaming, but when I’m doing what I love, the pain goes away.”

Boyd Martin, the world number-three rider from the U.S., finished in second place with a score of 29.0 on the experienced Tsetserleg. Amazingly, the world silver medalist and Olympian, who like New Zealander Tim Price, has started at all the world’s seven five-star competitions, has never completed Badminton before.

“I’m thrilled with the horse—he looked like a champion,” Martin said. “I feel we’re in with a chance now. And I don’t want to just complete—I want to go get in and get stuck in. I love five-stars. It’s what keeps me motivated.”

After the first morning of dressage, Britain’s Georgie Goss was in third place on Feloupe (30.6), and first-time competitor Max Warburton was in fourth on Monbeg Exclusive (31.7).

Coudray’s Little Horse From Facebook

While Upton and Martin maintained the top two spots by the end of the day’s competition, British-based U.S. rider Tiana Coudray and 14-year-old Holsteiner Cancaras Girl had a dynamite performance during the afternoon. With a score of 29.8, the pair overtook Goss to finish in third place.

Coudray suspected the mare might have top-level potential, however, she described “Nana” as “just my little horse I got off Facebook.” The horsewoman had intended to train her as a lower-level horse for a young rider, but soon discovered just how much talent she had. Coudray couldn’t have been happier with their performance today.

“We were melting down out there, but she was so brave. I bought her from a Facebook advert from Hollie Miller,” Coudray said. “I’ve been round Badminton twice but that was 10 years ago. It’s really exciting to be back, and we’ve made a good start.”

Goss and Feloupe ended in fourth place after the first day of dressage competition. William Fox-Pitt and Grafennacht landed in fifth.

Badminton Horse Trials, Dressage Day 1: Rider Experiences

Pippa Funnell (GBR) and Majas Hope (40.8): “That was not the best I was hoping for, very disappointing. And not my normal standard,” Funnell said. “But Majas Hope has been here three times and to Burghley three times. He’s an old horse who has seen it all before, so he’s been wired up ever since he’s been here.”

Jessica Phoenix (CAN) and Wabbit (40.3): “He showed a lot of composure in that ring. He’s the fittest he’s ever been, which I think will be good having seen the cross-country course,” Phoenix said. A past Olympian and veteran team rider, Phoenix is based is representing Canada. She made the trip to Burghley last year, finishing 11th.

William Fox-Pitt (GBR) and Graffenacht (30.6): “I’m very happy with that test. The mare was in a great outline,” Fox-Pitt said of their dressage performance. “I’ve already done two course walks, one with Yogi [Briesner]. There are some good ideas out there, and it’s a decent track. It’s going to be exciting.”

Zara Tindall (GBR) and Class Affair (37.2): “I’m not pleased with the mark, but, for Class Affair, he was quite calm. He hates people!” Tindall said. “The team here has done a great job on the cross country. Hopefully, I can keep him on a straight line and make it smooth.”

Meghan O’Donoghue (USA) and Palm Crescent (34.7): “I’m so thrilled,” O’Donoghue said of her first time competing at Badminton. “There was a lot of atmosphere in there and dressage is not the easiest phase for him.” The 34-year-old has completed four five-star events including Burghley in 2022.

Thank you to Cosequin for our coverage of the 2024 Paris Olympics. It includes rider interviews, competition reports, horse spotlights, photos, videos and more.

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