Photographs of work in progress on the cross-country course for this year’s Badminton Horse Trials suggest the track will contain new fences with a bold, old-fashioned feel, as seen at Burghley last year.
Course-designer Hugh Thomas was reticent about revealing much, but told H&H: “We’ve probably got more new fences being built than for many years.”
The pictures – taken by Hugh and posted on the Badminton website – show the return of some bold, old-fashioned obstacles.
There’s a beefy footbridge angled across the Vicarage Ditch and a “beam”, a trakehner-style fence with a flat rail over a ditch.
In addition, the step out of the sunken road has been smoothed out, a skinny arrowhead hangs on the edge of the Lake and some of the Quarry logs appear to be taking on a new narrow aspect.
It also looks as if riders will be tackling an owl hole-type fence on top of the Outlander Bank for the first time.
“I’m excited about this year’s event, especially as we’ve had record sales in the first two weeks since the box office opened,” said Hugh.
James Willis, who is responsible for the courses for the BE90 and BE100 finals at the Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots Championships, said those tracks will be stronger again this year.
“We didn’t want to go way too hard from the start, so we hope to increase the difficulty every year until we find a balance,” he explained.
“We’re still limited by the number of efforts and the size of the jumps, but we’re trying to test the riders a bit more.”
Among the changes will be a new step up and down near the four-star quarry.
Badminton’s title sponsor Mitsubishi Motors has recently signed up for another three years.
By 2015 the sponsorship will have been running for 24 years, one of the longest such relationships in the sport.
This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (26 January 2012)