NEWs

Badminton unveils new-look cross-country course

Both riders and spectators at Badminton Horse Trials, presented by Mars Equestrian, will be treading new ground on the cross-country course, which was unveiled this week. Eric Winter, the course-designer, has utilised an undulating new area of the Park where the topography will refresh the track and offer enhanced viewing. The ability to switch direction every year at Badminton — this time it will run in a clockwise direction, with the Savills Staircase (fence 4abcd) negotiated early in the track and downhill — offers great opportunities to a designer. “When you have such expectations, and large crowds, not to mention the thousands watching around the world, you have to try and provide something new every year,” explains Eric. “The advantage here is being able to run a different competition each time. “The 2023 track doesn’t have as many big ditches as in 2022, but it will be all about obedience and flexibility as the bold, galloping fences are interspersed with complexes that will require control and adjustability.” An example of the course-designer’s philosophy comes with the Joules Coronation Corral (6ab), two upright white gates six or seven strides apart, which is followed by “a thumping great old-fashioned bullfinch” (Air Ambulances UK Bullfinch, 7). The course then veers left off the Avenue onto new ground, where the Lightsource bp Hollow (8abc) is sited, before climbing up to the familiar pond at the Mars Sustainability Bay (10ab). There is a new Holland Cooper Owl Hole (12ab) followed by the trickily angled KBIS Brush Boxes (13abcd) on this traditionally intense section. The famous Badminton Lake (21abc and 22) has a new look: a big brush corner followed by a 90-degree turn to upright rails into the water and five or six strides to another brush corner sited in the water. Safety is, as ever, paramount, and there will be increased use of MIM-clip technology on this year’s course, including on the two open corners in the Voltaire Design Huntsman’s Close (25ab). By this stage competitors will have the finish in their sights; the crowds waiting and watching in the arena will cheer them home over the Coronation Finale (30). “This is a track that will, quite rightly, test the strength of the partnership between horse and rider,” says former competitor Tina Cook who, as a member of the commentary team, has had a first sight of the course. “It’s got an old-style flavour with some big, bold, attacking fences but it will be all about trainability.”The cross country preview is available exclusively on Badmintontv, powered by Brightcove.  Click here to sign up 

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