The organisers of the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials have announced that the event will stick to its traditional format, keeping the steeplechase and roads and tracks phases for future events.
Event director Hugh Thomas says: “We recognise that the slightly less taxing form of the sport may well be appropriate when it is necessary to generate the widest possible international participation.
“However, we have always believed that the ‘full’ sport provides a greater all-round test of horse and rider, and we were very disappointed when the FEI also dropped these phases from the World Equestrian Games.
“We’ve consulted very widely about the future and it’s clear that the vast majority of competitors want us to continue to offer the ultimate challenge. We intend to ensure that riding at and winning Badminton remains the great aspiration for all youngsters entering the sport.”
Mark Phillips commented: “The distressing thing at Punchestown was the number of falls in the shorter format – many experienced the same thing as the Americans in Kentucky, where horses “hit the wall” at somewhere between seven and eight minutes.
“There will be much rejoicing around the world about Badminton retaining the steeplechase, as the three most successful four-star events are all committed to keeping the ‘chase in 2005, which will keep the Rolex Grand Slam alive,” he added.
Organisers have been consulting with other four-star events, Lexington and Burghley, on the possibility of building on the success of the Rolex Grand Slam and developing a “Masters” or “Super League” series.