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Badminton Horse Trials blog: this year’s event has a brilliant buzz

This Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials is like all your Christmases at once: the old greats — Mark Todd, Ingrid Klimke, William Fox-Pitt, Pippa Funnell, Andrew Nicholson, Mary King — up against the younger world beaters: Michael Jung, Sandra Auffarth and others.

And this feels an especially international Badminton; today I’ve watched the large entourage buzzing round Spanish debutant Sebastian Mateu; marvelled at Dutch rider Merel Blom’s startling pink tailcoat collar; watched Italy’s lovely Vittoria Panizzon beam obligingly for a passer-by’s photograph; and checked out if Kai Ruder’s smile is still worthy of the front page (it is). But Brits caught my eye too, including Zara Phillips on High Kingdom — he does his dressage tomorrow shortly before 2pm, and the horse looking simply sensational.

Today’s dressage judging hasn’t been altogether consistent, with the two British judges different by almost 8% over what mark William Fox-Pitt should be awarded on Oslo. I am slightly surprised that, with the calibre field there is this year, no one has broken the 40-barrier on the first day — but it is likely to happen several times over tomorrow.

I walked a good stretch of the course with our art editor and one of our photographers, checking out the best spot to take photographs for a rather special front cover next Thursday. And the fences look great — technical, stunningly presented, with lots that is new. The rider view seems to be that the questions come thick and fast — but so they should — this is Badminton.

Very serious jumping from the Lake onwards – right to the very end,” was Andrew Nicholson’s verdict, a man renowned for saying it like it is.

So, before I leg it to the cocktail party at the big house (shameless bragging, I know) here are my top tips for spectators tomorrow:

  1. Don’t forget to bring your 16-page form guide and score card (free inside our 2 May issue). Download it here
  2. Don’t think that just because it’s sunny, its warm. It may look like bare feet and Crocs weather, but it’s not.

H&H’s 25-page Badminton report is out next Thursday, 9 May, including comment from Judy Harvey, Ian Stark and Mark Phillips, pictures of every cross-country fence and full analysis of every phase.

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