MILDENHALL-based eventer Tim Price has high hopes of going two better than last year at this week’s Badminton Horse Trials, but admits the unpredictable nature of the event could spring a surprise or two.

Price, who followed in the footsteps of legendary competitor Andrew Nicholson by moving to Wiltshire from New Zealand, will partner 15-year-old gelding Ringwood Skyboy for the prestigious three-day competition.

A previous runner up at Burghley Horse Trials, Ringwood Skyboy enters Badminton in strong form having finished in the top 12 of his two most recent international events.

But Price understands the unpredictable nature of Badminton and will be taking nothing for granted.

He said: “Badminton is a great way to start the season. Even finishing third last year was good for me.

“But I’m on a different horse this year, he’s a lot more experience and has been through four-star starts.

“I’d like to think we’ve got a pretty good chance, but like all sports anything can happen.

“He’s a good horse and is in good form. There’s been a lot of bad weather around lately and it’s forced a lot of events to be called off.

“It’s been a problem. Luckily I’ve dodged most of those bullets and I’m happy with my preparation.”

While Price admitted his build-up work has been hampered, the New Zealander revealed he’s relaxed about the situation.

“The weather has been nightmare,” said Price. “We use gallops for fitness work, but also we need run-up competitions to get them game ready and knock the rust off.

“They’ve got to get to competitions to be properly prepared, you can’t do it all from home.

“Every year at Badminton is different, it’s a like a minefield that’s constantly changing.

“You’ve got to be on your game and one step ahead all the time so you can be polished and complete a good performance.

“But I’m relaxed about it, which I believe is an advantage.”

Price, who bagged a silver medal at the Kentucky Horse Trials in North America three years ago, ranked Badminton as one of the most prestigious competitions in the world and starting the season with a podium finish would be the perfect boost.

He said: “In its own way, Badminton is the most difficult to win.

“You can get riders come out of nowhere for Badminton. It’s not as predictable as other events.

“The crowd is something a horse has to deal with too. During the dressage you’re under the magnifying glass. The horse feels the energy too.

“On cross-country day it takes an ability in the horse to be able to hone their focus.

“Then day three is where it’s won or lost, that’s what it’s all about.”

Price's wife Jonelle, herself a New Zealand Olympian, rides Classic Moet at Badminton, having come back after giving birth to son Otis last year.