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Hawley Bennett Competes in First Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials
Badminton, Glos., UK
Photo: Anthony Trollope/
Hawley Bennett (CAN) and Livingstone
A dream came true for Hawley Bennett of Langley, BC when she completed the CCI 4* Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, held May 3-6 in Badminton, Gloucestershire, England.

Bennett, riding her long-time partner and 2004 Olympic mount she co-owns with her mother, Gerry, the 17-year-old thoroughbred gelding, Livingstone, affectionately called 'Hank', finished in 30th place against some of the world's best eventing competitors.  A total of 77 horse/rider combinations representing 14 countries contested Badminton, however over 20 horses were withdrawn before the cross-country over concerns for the unusually hard footing, due to non-typical spring weather conditions.

A dressage score of 58.8 had the pair standing in 62nd heading into  cross-country, but after putting in a solid performance over the 45 jumping efforts, designed by FEI 'I' level Eventing course designer Hugh Thomas, adding just 26.4 penalties to their score, they jumped up the standings to sit in the 33rd position.

"It was a really tough course. I watched the first four riders go, and when three out of the four didn't finish, I got nervous, but once I got out there, Hank started out amazing, and just ate up the whole course," explained Bennett, who added that with 200,000 spectators on cross-country day, it was overwhelming. "When I finished cross-country, I was allowed to leave after only eight minutes, and the vet couldn't believe how fit Hank is, especially for a 17-year-old horse. The vet said that if there was a 'Fittest Horse Award', it would have gone to Hank."

In Badminton's final phase – show jumping, Bennett and Livingstone lowered just one of the 15 jumping efforts for four jumping faults, making their final score 89.2, and moving them up three spots to their final placing of 30th.

"I was thrilled with Hank. He was absolutely amazing, he really came through for me, and I couldn't have asked for more," stated Bennett. "It's still all very surreal for me. It has always been my dream to ride at Badminton, and now I've done it. I definitely want to come back next year!"

Badminton was won by Lucinda Fredericks, representing Australia aboard Headley Britannia. Fredericks, who is also a Grand Prix Dressage competitor, and the wife of the recent Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event winner Clayton Fredericks, took the lead  after dressage and held onto it throughout the entire competition. Andreas Dibowski of Germany and FRH Serve Well placed second, while American Kim Severson and Winsome Adante took third.

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