Last Year British rider Oliver Townend (33) was an individual member of the British squad for the European Championships at Blair Castle finishing 17th (Fenyas Elegance). The former Badminton and Burghley winner, who is based near Ellesmere in Shropshire, was last year’s leading rider in the end of year BE rider ranking and is currently number 14th in the FEI World ranking. This year will be his fourth consecutive visit to Badminton with Armada.
One of the busiest riders on the circuit he gained first and second in the CIC3* at Burnham Market international in April (2016) – as he did last year also.
Oliver began riding when he was seven years old, inheriting his love of horses from his parents. His father, Alan, competed in three-day eventing, while mother, Eve, showed side-saddle at county level. His first success came in show jumping at HOYS when he was 11, and at 13 he went on to represent Britain on the pony eventing team at the European Championships. Oliver quickly moved through the ranks and for three years was stable jockey to British team trainer, the late Kenneth Clawson in Leicestershire before going solo.
Oliver’s good result at his first Badminton in 2005 with Topping earned them an individual place on the 2005 British European Championship squad at Blenheim. With Flint Curtis, Oliver came third at Badminton in 2006 and rode as an individual at the Aachen WEG in the same year. In 2007 he won a team gold medal in Pratoni del Vivaro.
In 2009 Oliver joined the elite group of riders who have won back-to-back Badminton and Burghley titles. That year he also won the HSBC FEI Classics title and at the end of the 2009 season was top of the BE rider rankings for the first time.
In 2009 Oliver and Nina Barbour of Bolesworth Estate in Cheshire formed a partnership to establish and develop Harthill Stud at Egerton Hall Farm in Cheshire. The stud stands several stallions with the intention to breed and produce top class event horses.
In 2014, with Black Tie, he was an individual member of the British Squad for the WEG in France but retired cross country.
Dromgurrihy Blue, owned by Mr Michael Mcgrath, is a 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding. Bred by Theresa Walsh he is by the ISH Puissance (sire of Irish international horse Horseware Bushman) out of a mare by Furisto. He was formerly ridden by Irish rider Michael Ryan then for two seasons by Harry Dzenis with who he completed Burghley in 2014.
Armada owned by Paul and Diana Ridgeon, is a 17-year-old Spanish-bred gelding bred by former competitor Ramon Beca. He was formerly produced and ridden to four-star by Andrew Nicholson and given to Oliver to ride at the beginning of 2012. Armada is by the thoroughbred Fines out of Berganza by the Hanoverian Golfi. Armada is a full brother to Andrew Nicholson’s ride Nereo. Armada will be the most experienced horse in the field; since 2008 he has completed 15 four-star competitions (7 with Oliver) including four Badmintons and six Burghleys – his best result was 2nd with Oliver in 2014. Armada has 2472 BE points.
Black Tie, owned by Karen Shuter is a 15-year-old New Zealand thoroughbred gelding. He is by Mughtanim (a son of Danzig) out of a mare by leading sire Brilliant Invader (sire of Ready Teady, Koyuna Sundancer, Mister Maori). Oliver took over the ride from his owner in 2010. In 2014 they were fourth at Luhmuhlen and were members of the British squad for the WEG in France but retired XC
King Joules, owned by Tom Joule, is an 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding. He is by the thoroughbred Ghareeb out of a mare by Cavalier Royale. A former ride of Mary King then ridden by Andrew Nicholson, Oliver took the ride in 2015 – they were 8th at Ballindenisk CCI3* in September
Spanish Sports horse,
17.0hh, chestnut, gelding
Dam Berganza - 17 ()
Breeder Ramon Becker
Owner(s): Paul & Diana Ridgeon, Haslingfield, Cambs.
16.1hh, black, gelding
Dam Deebee Lady (Brillant Invader)
Owner(s): Karyn Shuter, Wallingford, Oxon.