Upright gates and a ‘thumping great bullfinch’: Badminton unveils new-look cross-country course for 2023

  • Riders and spectators are promised a new-look cross-country course at Badminton Horse Trials, presented by Mars Equestrian, this year.

    The team behind the event, which runs from 4-8 May, have unveiled Eric Winter’s track, which this year takes in a new “undulating” area of Badminton park, where “the topography will refresh the track and offer enhanced viewing”.

    A spokesman for the event said the possibility to switch the direction of the track – this year it will run clockwise – offers great opportunities to the designer.

    “When you have such expectations, and large crowds, not to mention the thousands watching around the world, you have to try and provide something new every year,” said Eric. “The advantage here is being able to run a different competition each time.

    “The 2023 track doesn’t have as many big ditches as in 2022, but it will be all about obedience and flexibility as the bold, galloping fences are interspersed with complexes that will require control and adjustability.”

    Examples of this include the Joules Coronation Corral at 6ab, two upright white gates six or seven strides apart, followed by a “thumping great old-fashioned bullfinch” at fence seven.

    “The course then veers left off the Avenue onto new ground, where the Lightsource bp Hollow (8abc) is sited, before climbing up to the familiar pond at the Mars Sustainability Bay (10ab),” the spokesman said. “There is a new Holland Cooper Owl Hole (12ab) followed by the trickily angled KBIS Brush Boxes (13abcd) on this traditionally intense section.

    “The famous Badminton Lake (21abc and 22) has a new look: a big brush corner followed by a 90-degree turn to upright rails into the water and five or six strides to another brush corner sited in the water.”

    The spokesman added that safety will be paramount, as always, and there will be more use of MIM-clip technology this year, including on the two open corners of the Voltaire Design Huntsman’s Close (25ab).

    “By this stage competitors will have the finish in their sights; the crowds waiting and watching in the arena will cheer them home over the Coronation Finale (30),” the spokesman said.

    Former competitor Tina Cook, who is part of the Badminton commentary team, said the track will “quite rightly” test the partnership between horse and rider.

    “It’s got an old-style flavour with some big, bold, attacking fences but it will be all about trainability,” she said.

    A preview of the cross-country course is available on Badminton TV. Don’t miss next week’s edition of H&H magazine (27 April) for our exclusive course-walk with former Badminton winner Piggy March, plus videos of Piggy walking some of the key fences on Horseandhound.co.uk.

    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, 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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