Badminton Horse Trials director Hugh Thomas unveiled this year’s cross-country course and the work which has been done on the ground to the press on Tuesday (8 April, ’08).

After last year’s controversy, when nearly a third of the field withdrew before the cross-country amid widespread criticism of hard ground, the Badminton team has been working hard to improve the going.

The course has been fenced off outside the deer park, and marked with white pegs within it, with the Duke of Beaufort’s hunt, vehicles and walkers asked to keep off the ground. A programme to encourage the grass to grow has clearly paid off and the course now looks like a strip of smooth green running through the park.

The track is slightly shorter than last year and runs in the opposite direction, with many old favourites among the 29 fences and some new innovations.

“Frank Weldon [my predecessor as Badminton director and course-designer] always said there are two problems with designing at Badminton,” said Hugh. “Firstly it’s flat, and secondly you’ve got to think of five methods of jumping the Vicarage ditch each year.”

This year Hugh has dropped the familiar Vicarage Vee, replacing it with a skinny angled brush in the ditch, probably the most visually frightening fence on the track.

“It’s meant to be quite a daunting looking fence,” he said.

www.badminton-horse.co.uk

Don’t miss Jeanette Brakewell’s view of this year’s Badminton course in Horse & Hound’s Badminton preview issue, out on 24 April.

Badminton Horse Trials 2007