Which equestrian has won the Badminton Horse Trials most often?

The Badminton Horse Trials is the oldest and, arguably, the most prestigious fixture in the eventing calendar. The competition was founded by Henry Somerset, tenth Duke of Beaufort, in the grounds of the Badminton Estate in Gloucestershire, South West England, in 1949 and – notwithstanding cancellations due to bad weather and, of course, the Covid-19 pandemic – has been staged annually, in April or May, ever since.

The equestrian who has won the Badminton Horse Trials most often is Lucinda Green, née Prior-Palmer, who did so six times, on six different horses, between 1973 and 1984. Born in Andover, Hampshire on November 7, 1953, Prior-Palmer was still only 19 years old when she won Badminton for the first time, on Be Fair, having finished fifth on the same horse the previous year. She later told ‘Country Life’, ‘It was ridiculous. I was 19, it was my second attempt and the horse, Be Fair, had been my fifteenth birthday present.’

Prior-Palmer won Badminton again in 1976 and 1977, but both victories were overshadowed by tragedy. In 1976, her mount, Wideawake suddenly collapsed and died as the pair waited to begin their lap of honour and, in 1977, some months after guiding sketchy jumper George to glory, her father, Major General George Erroll Prior-Palmer – who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer – died.

Prior-Palmer would win Badminton once more, albeit narrowly, under her maiden name. In 1979, Killaire, who was ‘only a ordinary hunter’, but ‘had the biggest heart’, dug deep on the cross-country course to edge out Monocle, ridden by Sue Hatherley. Following marriage to David Green in 1981, she would win twice more, on Regal Realm in 1983 and Beagle Bay in 1984.

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