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Mary King talks about Badminton and Archie's retirement

We get Mary King’s take on what happened at Badminton Horse Trials and find out more about some of her up and coming horses…

“I was very excited to go to Badminton with dear Archie (Imperial Cavalier). I knew it would be his last Badminton being 17 years old and had been warned it was going back to a big course like it used to be. I was thrilled to bits when I walked it to see the big diversions, it was lovely and really refreshing, I thought I had a good chance with Archie as he was so experienced."

"We did a competitive dressage test and he set off very well on the cross country, he felt great and I thought to myself ‘we could actually win this’! He jumped through the lake well but had a little stumble coming out of it but still felt good. However we got to owl hole and had a little mishap - as I was clinging round his neck I thought… ‘oh, maybe I am not going to win this year after all’! Dear Archie lifted his head up at just the right time and pushed me back into position luckily and we actually did manage to go clear through that element without crossing our tracks but he felt quiet after that and not quite himself. I had already decided that if we had any mishaps I would retire him and when he stopped at the Mirage pond I knew that it was time to end so I just patted him and told him he was a good boy and walked home – I have to admit it was very sad.”


“The whole course didn’t ride as well as we hoped, the ground was quite heavy and it was a shock to lots of riders and horses as the courses have got smaller over the years! I do hope the course designer wasn’t too put off though. If the ground had been better it would have been a different story. On the surface it didn’t look too bad but it was very sticky, which made it hard for the horses. I then had a phone call from his owners after the event to say that they wanted him home for retirement! We have had an amazing 7-year partnership and he will have a lovely happy life now. He could have gone on to do some one day events but I am really happy that he has finished totally fine, 100% sound and fit and well! It was very sad but he has been amazing and I fell very lucky that they have let me ride him for so long.”

“Onwards and upwards to Chatsworth and it was the first time both Emily and I had a win at the same event! We both won a Novice section, I on Kings Choice (Lottie) and Emily on Del Piero II (Peter). It was extra special as Lottie’s owners, John Bevan, Peter Appleford and Roger & Gill Trevitt came to watch her and she has now upgraded to intermediate level. MHS King Joules (Jay) was in the Advanced class there and did a very good dressage which had him way in the lead, he jumped clear and then set off cross country and had his first ever refusal! It was at the water, which was causing a lot of problems, he stopped and snorted at the fence – I have never had a horse do that before! I decided that because there were a lot of questions later in the course and the ground wasn’t brilliant that I would retire him and school him in preparation for Bramham. So since then we have been doing lots of water practice!”

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“We then went to Tattersalls and it was great fun! The event is so accommodating and nothing is too much trouble! There are great parties and we also had the bonus of lovely weather so the ground was good! Emily came 3rd in the Under 25 2** with Zara and then she came 9th with Peter in his first CCI1* in the Junior Section. She had an unfortunate stop with Charlemagne right at end of the course and she was so cross with herself, Charlie just didn’t have enough oomph going into the water. I took Lottie to do her first CCI1* and it was a hotly contested section with over 100 starters in it! Her dressage was not as good as it could have been – her canter is still quite big and open and she didn’t quite manage to contain it so we lost marks here - but she went on to do a lovely double clear inside the time and finished 25th on her dressage score. I know that she will do a very good dressage so I was pleased with her.

“Next stop is Bramham with MHS King Joules to do the CCI*** and Emily is doing the CIC*** with Brookleigh and Mr Hi Ho. After that Emily and I are off to Egypt for her to do her Open Water Scuba Diving qualification which was what she wanted for her 18th birthday present, so the horses are having a little holiday ready to start back again towards the end of June. I also have a couple of owners who are looking for the ‘next superstar’ so will be keeping my eyes out!”