Following last year’s dramatic Badminton Horse Trials cross-country day — after which only 32 combinations made it through to showjump — course designer Giuseppe della Chiesa has spoken about his plans for this year’s event (6-10 May).

“It is a privilege to design here,” explains Giuseppe. “The brief is simple, but difficult. You must produce a good four-star track, but what is a good four-star track? It must be a test… and there are many conditions that can also have an influence.

“The idea is always to produce a four-star test — a Badminton test.”

The Italian — who was technical delegate at Badminton from 2008 to 2010 — took over from Hugh Thomas, who had designed the course since 1989, last year.

Giuseppe’s bold new cross-country design in 2014 caused a stir, with only 38.6% of the field finishing the event — the lowest completion rate on record.

When H&H caught up with Hugh, who remains the horse trials’ director, about the course earlier this year he said: “The general feel will be similar to last year. It will be big and challenging, but slightly less intense around the Vicarage Vee area.”

In 2014, 23 combinations were eliminated or retired between fence 13, the Outlander Bank, and fence 18, the Swindon Designer Outlet Mound. This series of fences also included the New Pond, the Vicarage Vee and the Mirage Pond combinations.

This year the course will run the other way round — as is traditional at the Gloucestershire event.

“With the course going in an opposite direction, you get a very different course each year,” Hugh added.

“The new features that were built last year, such as the new pond complex, will be used the other way to produce very different challenges.”

Hugh also told H&H that preparations for the event — which is expected to attract 130,000 visitors on cross-country day — were going well.

“The route of the course is fixed as is the position of the fences. Some new portables have been built and we managed to do quite a lot of the construction before Christmas.”

For more information and to book tickets visit: www.badminton-horse.co.uk