*Exclusive* Watch Piggy March walk the Badminton cross-country course: ‘an old-fashioned feel’

  • The 2019 winner Piggy March has given her exclusive insight into the 2023 Badminton Horse Trials cross-country course as competitors gear up for the Gloucestershire five-star.

    This year’s event (4 to 8 May), presented by Mars Equestrian, has an amended timetable owing to the coronation, meaning riders will head out over the Badminton Horse Trials cross-country course on the Sunday (7 May).

    In Piggy’s full preview in today’s (Thursday, 27 April) Badminton preview issue of Horse & Hound, she describes course-designer Eric Winter’s 2023 track as having “quite an old-fashioned feel” and says it is “fair, not trappy and clear for the horses”.

    Piggy also reflects on her first Badminton aboard Flintlock, with whom she had “grown up on the hunting field” and her superb win in 2019 with Trevor Dickens’s great Vanir Kamira.

    “To win is what dreams are made of. Vanir Kamira is a very special little mare, a real fighter, and it means a lot to have won it on a horse who is all about the cross-country. I’ve competed here seven times in total, it’s either gone very well, or very badly!” says Piggy.

    “I’ve walked home quite a few times after falling off, I’ve been first, second and fourth… It’s all great memories, and you learn so much even from the times things haven’t gone so well. As a rider, it makes you hungry to get back here.”

    Badminton Horse Trials cross-country course: Piggy’s views on some key combinations

    Piggy March assesses the challenge of the Badminton Lake on the 2023 cross-country course.

    Joules Coronation Corral (fence 6ab)

    A new obstacle for the 2023, these are two upright white gates on a turning line.

    “This will be the first serious question, where riders have to sit up, really respect and set their horses in a gear appropriate for this fence,” says Piggy.

    She notes there are two lines here – the “brave man’s route” inside the hut, or a wider line going around it.

    “These gates need serious respect and the riders to be accurate. But you should hope with horses being at this stage on the course and still fresh, that they’ve got plenty of jump and are still very careful at the minute. I’m hoping that ridden well, this jump should look good.”

    The Lake (fences 21abc and 22)

    The direct route here is a big brush corner, followed by a left-handed turn to a set of frangible rails into The Lake, followed by another big brush corner in the water.

    “This year you’re not going to be disappointed with what you’ve got,” says Piggy. “You gallop up to a very big brush corner that certainly needs a lot of respect and will get the horse very much up into the air.

    “You want to really sit up afterwards and make sure you get the horse back onto his hocks, really get this turn – there’s not a lot of room – to a very old-fashioned rail. We haven’t seen rails into The Lake for years, so it does have a very different feel to it.”

    She adds the dressing that will be on the fence for the competition will make it more inviting.

    “It’s got quite a decent drop on it. You’ve got a very big corner in the water and I think you want to get a positive good jump in, land and ride up to that big corner,” adds Piggy. “It should be a fair question.”

    Voltaire Design Huntsmans Close (fence 25ab)

    The direct route at Huntsmans Close is two open corners, while the longer route will be a hay wagon to an alternative corner.

    Piggy walked the direct route and says these fences are “very inviting”.

    “At this stage, we are on the home run. You want your horse to still have enough petrol, to have enough horse underneath you, and to ride accurately,” says Piggy, noting they are on frangible devices so riders “can’t be too blasé”

    “They are both inviting and ridden properly, shouldn’t cause problems providing your horse still has enough running in him.”

    How to watch Badminton Horse Trials

    If you are interested in watching Badminton Horse Trials live from the comfort of your home, wherever you are in the world, then you will need to subscribe to Badminton TV. To sign up, visit watch.badminton-horse.tv – click the “Sign Up” link in the top right corner of your screen, then follow the instructions. An annual subscription to Badminton TV costs £19.99 and gives you 365 days of access to all of the content in the Badminton TV library, the ability to watch the action live, and the option to replay all of this year’s action later.

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