With the countdown on for one of the biggest events in the equestrian calendar, the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, H&R gets a look at Eric Winter’s rustically impressive course
As Badminton Horse Trials draws ever closer, the thought forefront in most eventing fans’ minds is what cross-country challenges will be thrown at the crème de la crème of eventing talent that’s entered this year. Finally, all has been revealed and, in a course that cleverly combines new questions with old crowd favourites, it should make for some spectacular viewing.
In his second year as course designer, Eric Winter has taken the traditional line of the Badminton course and reversed the direction. Starting as ever in the main arena over the familiar flower bed, the ASX Starter (1), riders head left to a choice of inviting Rolex Feeder roll-top spreads (2), one of very few portable fences on this track.
Earthworks have created a mound on the way through the car park with an impressive fallen tree on the top, which makes up the HorseQuest Hump (3). It’s been designed to break up the natural flatness of the park on the way to the HorseQuest Quarry (4 AB), which Eric describes as back to being how God intended it, with a dry stone wall drop in and its counterpart to the left on the top of the incline.
To avoid a flat-out gallop, Eric has created a deviation through the trees to a very skinny brush with ditch to the fore on quite a sharp angle, known as the Rolex Grand Slam Skinny (5). It’s then a right turn to Huntsman’s Close, which this year consists of three very chunky logs on a tight turn (6 AB).
The new Traders Table (7) keeps the rhythm going before last year’s log into the Lake, called the Wadworth’s Water (8), this time transported to the end of the water hazard near Badminton House. The entry to The Lake proper is the same route as last year over another massive log, with a brush in the water followed by a sharp right turn to a narrow brush up the slope (9 ABC).
For the first time in many years, the Mitsubishi L200s pickups (10) now come after the Lake as the riders go in front of the tented village and jump left over the imposing World Horse Welfare Gates (11). Next comes a choice of maximum size parallels, the Formulate! White Oxers (12), and onto a natural Stick Pile (13). Turning right out of the Deer Park are a choice of corners (14), up a steep mound with a post and rails on the top (15), then down to another choice of corners away at the Outlander PHEV Mound (16).
Heading towards the Luckington Lane is the Devoucoux Quad Bar (17), a massive triple bar with a drop. The following obstacle is perhaps simpler this time, with a rail in and a parallel out (18 AB) at the Eclipse Cross Pond, then up the small hill over a let up brush, the Vicarage Rolltop (19). The Hildon Water Pond follows, consisting of a log, a slope into the pond, a running water trough and a hedge up the incline (20 ABC).
The yawning National Star Trakehner (21) is next, followed by the classic KBIS Vicarage Vee (22, 23), then back into the Park over a rail, down to a ditch and up and out over a narrow house, making up the Shogun Hollow (24 ABCD).
The Countryside Haywain (25) comes next in front of Badminton House, then it’s the portable wooden box followed by the boxed-in corners that make up the Joules Corners (26 ABC), which were formerly used in Huntsman’s Close.
First seen last year is a very square BHS Table (27) then up past the steps to the Crooked S Bullfinch (28) on the mound. Coming down the hill is the Savills Escalator (29 ABC), a box brush followed by two skinny moustache jumps at an angle.
Three from home is the old standard Fischer Brush (30), a beautifully carved single log (31), the Rolex Treetrunk and into the arena to the prize-winning Shogun Sport Saddles (32).
The 2018 event Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials will take place from Wednesday 2 May through to Sunday 6 May 2018. Entries include former the winning combinations of Andrew Nicholson and Nereo (2017), and Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW (winners in 2016 and runners up in 2013 and 2017). Other entered riders who’ve previously lifted the trophy include Mark Todd, Oliver Townend, Sam Griffiths and Paul Tapner.