If the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials has always been on your hit list to visit, but you've still not taken the trip to Gloucestershire, take a look at our spectator guide to one of the world's greatest equestrian events
What is Badminton and what is the format?
The Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, held in Gloucestershire, is one of just six four-star three-day events in the world. Four-star is the highest level in the sport of eventing and is renowned as being one of the toughest and most prestigious events known to equestrianism.
A three-day event consists of the disciplines of dressage, cross-country and showjumping, run on different days and this year’s event takes place this week (3-7 May 2017).
Why is it such a big deal in the eventing world?
Four-star eventing is the pinnacle of the sport, which means Badminton is very important to riders — think of it as being similar to playing in the Premier League or the FA Cup final in football, careering around the F1 circuit at Silverstone or playing in the final at Wimbledon. The winner takes home a record £100,000 first prize this year, and most of the world’s leading eventers will be battling for it.
Where is it and how do you get there?
Badminton is in south Gloucestershire, about 85 miles west of London and 15 miles from Bristol and Bath. The best way to get there is by car and all routes to the event will be sign-posted. The nearest railway station is at Chippenham, and you can also fly into Badminton if you wish, thanks to the grass runway just over the road from the event…
What should you wear?
There is no set dress code. You should wear something comfortable and suitable for the weather conditions as the event is predominantly outside. It is also worth wearing practical footwear as you are likely to be doing a great deal of walking.
How much does it cost to go?
It is now too late to buy tickets in advance, but you can get them on the gate.
Admission for children aged 12 and under is free.
Personal admission charges on the gate (cash only) are as follows:
Thursday/Friday — £17
Saturday — £30
Sunday — £16
Vehicle pass — £12 per day (no season passes available on the gate)
NOTE: Grandstand tickets are necessary in addition to car passes and personal admission to watch the jumping on the Sunday. Prices start from £9.50.
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How should you best plan your day and are there any secrets for making the most out of your day?
The best way to plan your day at Badminton is to take a look at the Badminton website for a full timetable, so that you don’t miss a thing.
In order to make the most of your day, leave plenty of time to get to Badminton as traffic can quickly build in the area. Factor in plenty of pit stops during the day too, so that you don’t wear yourselves out too quickly.
The lingo you should get up to scratch on before you go
Here’s some common phrases you might hear at Badminton and a brief explanation of what they mean:
Trot-up: this is when horses are presented by their respective riders in front of the ground jury (the people who judge the horses in the dressage), to ensure all horses are fit to compete before the competition starts on the Wednesday and before the final showjumping phase on the Sunday morning of Badminton, held in front of Badminton House.
Dressage test: the first phase of a three-day event is the dressage and all horses and riders must complete a dressage test, which consists of 26 set movements, each of which is marked out of 10 by a panel of three judges (the ground jury).
Cross-country: this is on the Saturday of the event and is a course of solid fences over a distance of around four miles. It must be completed at an average speed of 570 metres per minute. Horses refusing will incur faults, and any horse and/or rider fall will result in elimination, as will three refusals, whereby they will no longer be allowed to participate in the competition.
Optimum time: this is the time within which horses and riders must complete the cross-country course. For every one second a combination is over the optimum time, they will incur 0.4 time-faults.
Showjumping: the course on the final day of competition is set up to 1.40m high and as wide at 2.3m. It is often a high-pressure atmosphere and one fence being knocked down could be the difference between winning and losing. One knocked down fence results in four faults.
Penalties: horse and rider combinations will incur a penalty score in the dressage, which will then be added to if they incur any cross-country or showjumping faults. The winner is the combination finishing on the lowest penalty score.
Don’t miss our Badminton preview issue of Horse & Hound magazine (27 April), Badminton form guide pull out (4 May) and the Badminton report (11 May)