THE BADMINTON Horse Trials was an event that New Zealand-born Jesse Campbell grew up watching as a child and inspired him to take up the sport.

Having moved over to the UK in 2009, Campbell has learned from two of the best in the sport in the form of Wanborough-based Mark Todd and fellow Kiwi Andrew Nicholson, who is based in Marlborough.

Now based in Ramsbury, 27-year-old Campbell is having his third stab at the competition on Kaapachino, a horse he finished 33d on last year.

However, as he made his way into the press area after having four rails down in the show-jumping stage, Campbell was resigned to the fact that there wasn’t much more to give.

“I’ve got a young girl who rides for me, she’s from New Zealand, and after Badminton last year, I said she could have a sit on him and see what he feels like and she said: ‘He’s got nothing. No trot, or canter or jump or anything’,” he explained.

“He gives you everything so he is a special horse for me because of that and he always digs deep for me and is really earnest and I love that horse.”

However, Campbell heads into this year’s event with fresh optimism and is hoping to improve on that 33rd-placed finish despite enduring a miserable English winter.

“We’re in a good place and we have got really good horse power and I think the next few years are going to be great,” he added.

“For us, it was quite a short winter, but it’s always good to get down to it.

“I quite enjoy the winter in the UK, it is a little bit like a Rocky movie and you have to knuckle down and get on with it.

“I feel really good going into the new season, it’s surprising really.

“Every year you get a bit more into the routine and it all becomes a bit like clockwork really and the horses are feeling fantastic.

“Fingers crossed, it all comes out good. We have altered the preparations this year for Badminton and hopefully, it should be a good one.”