This year’s Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials cross-country course is as big and bold as ever, riders agreed today.

This year will be the third time Italian Giuseppe della Chiesa has designed the cross-country course at Badminton. In 2014 it was highly influential, partly because it was coupled with very tiring ground conditions and only 29% of starters jumped clear and 45% completed.

In 2015, completion rate was much higher at 73% with 66% of starters jumping clear. 

At present, it looks like the ground will be very good this Saturday. After some heavy rain over the past few weeks, the weather has come fine just in time and looks set to continue throughout the week.

Thursday’s overnight dressage leader Michael Jung said: “It looks tough, particularly the middle section of the course”.

This is a view shared by many other riders who are all in agreement that the area surrounding the Vicarage ditch is particularly intense. From fence 10, 11 and 12 — the Swindon Designer Outlet Mound — up until the Shogun Hollow at fence 23, there are many serious questions, culminating in 16 jumping efforts if all of the direct routes are taken.

Third-placed rider at the end of dressage day one Francis Whittington cites the Outlander Bank as probably “the biggest bank he will ever have to jump up”.

Oliver Townend said that the course is “very intense and technical in the Vicarage ditch area and then you have to jump all the way home”.

Oliver also raised the point that this year is a “huge stamina test” with the optimum time at 11mins 12sec.

Izzy Taylor agreed saying: “It’s a long course so fitness is going to be a big factor” this year with “a lot of jumping efforts” — there are 45 in total.

Louise Harwood summed up the cross-country as “absolutely massive”.

See pictures of all the fences

Read Thursday’s dressage report