The precise Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials cross-country times are released on the Friday of the event each year, ahead of the cross-country phase of the competition taking place on Saturday.
The cross-country is the middle phase of the competition, following the dressage on Thursday and Friday and before the showjumping on Sunday. The winners are the horse and rider who perform best across all three phases.
The cross-country typically starts at 11.30am and runs until approximately 5pm.
Each horse and rider combination is given an exact starting time. The pairs set off at four-minute intervals. As the cross-country course is meant to take 11-12 minutes to complete but can take longer if a competitor has problems, this means there can be up to four horses on course at any given time.
The order the horses start in is the same as the order for the dressage. It is decided by a draw, although riders with two horses in the competition always have one of their mounts at the start of the order and one at the end, in order to allow them time to prepare for each ride.
Although the Badminton Horse Trials cross-country times are set in advance, delays can occur on the day which lead to changes to the times for the later horses and riders. Reasons for delays can include fence or groundwork repairs or the course being blocked by a fallen horse or rider awaiting veterinary or medical assistance.
Riders will time their preparation for their round precisely around their cross-country start time, working out what time they need to get on their horse at the stables in order to have enough time to ride to the collecting ring and warm up their horse. Most riders will want to spent around 30 to 40 minutes in the warm-up area, making sure their horse is physically and mentally ready for the challenge ahead.
When their cross-country start time approaches, riders head through the archway into the main arena to the start box. The first fence is in the main arena and then they are off into the open countryside, with 11 to 12 minutes of jumping and galloping ahead of them.