The BBC is to review its live coverage of the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials following “extremely disappointing” viewing figures from the event.

Michael Cole, head of BBC sport, told H&H that an average of only 400,000 viewers — and a peak of 500,000 — tuned in to watch the live cross-country action on Saturday, 5 May. On the Sunday, an average of 900,000 viewers tuned in, peaking at 1.2million.

“This made me personally very disappointed. These are bad viewing figures and below average, so while we won’t be making any snap decisions, we will have to review what we do next year,” said Mr Cole.

He said the gaps in Saturday’s coverage caused by riders pulling out and the fatal injury to the French horse Icare D’Auzay were part of the risk the BBC takes covering a sporting event live. But he praised Pippa Funnell and the “peerless” presenter Clare Balding for filling airtime on what was a “very sad day”.

He added that riders pulling out — including favourite Zara Phillips — and the sunny weather on 5 May would have had an impact on viewing figures, which would be analysed in more depth.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (17 May, ’07)