SAM GRIFFITHS climbed the leaderboard from 25th after the dressage to win the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials and its record first prize of £80,000.
In a thrilling finale, when not a single horse finished their show jumping round penalty-free, Sam’s one fence down on the mare Paulank Brockagh, was enough to give him his first Badminton title.
“When I was a little boy I used to wait for the tapes of Badminton to arrive in Australia so that I could sit down and watch them,” said Sam.
“I used to dream about riding here, so to come and win is the culmination of that dream.”
Oliver Townend was the highest-placed Brit, climbing from fourth place overnight into second despite dislodging two rails on Armada.
“I’m fairly speechless,” admitted Oliver, who praised course designer Giuseppe Della Chiesa for producing a 'true four-star competition'.
Completing an all-male top three was local Luckington rider Harry Meade, who has made a miraculous comeback following a serious fall last autumn that left him with two shattered elbows.
His cross-country performance on Wild Lone was by general consensus the round of the day.
He clocked up 16.4 time penalties to rise from 46th after the dressage to eighth, and just one rail down in the final phase enabled him to climb again into third.
Meade said: “Everything that’s happened in the last six months has put things in perspective. I’ve been quite calm all week. I didn’t let myself become too ambitious and I didn’t look at the scoreboard at all – I just enjoyed myself.”
Highworth-based Paul Tapner (Kilronan), leader after the cross country, had four fences down in the show jumping arena, dropping them from first to fourth.
Frenchman Pascal Leroy (Minos De Petra) added eight jumping penalties and two time penalties to finish fifth, ahead of Pippa Funnell (Billy Beware), who clocked up four jumping faults and four time penalties.
Dutch rider Tim Lips (Keyflow NOP) was seventh, Sweden’s Ludwig Svennerstal (Alexander), who is based at Sir Mark Todd's yard on the outskirts of Swindon, was eighth, New Zealander Tim Price (Ringwood Sky Boy) was ninth and completing the top 10 was Belgium’s Lara De Liedekerke (Ducati Van Den Overdam).
The tough conditions this year found out even some of the best riders in the world.
William Fox-Pott, Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson all had horses eliminated on the cross country.
American Clark Montgomery, who is based in Tetbury and led after the dressage, was still going well when forced to retire on the cross country course.
Tom McEwen, based near Swindon, came home 31st of the 32 finishers.
Spokesman Julian Seaman summed up the 2014 event, saying: “Badminton is back to its glory days."