It turned the field upside down in 2014 it did much less to shake up the order in 2015. So how will this year’s Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials cross-country course fare?

Anniversary

It’s the third year that Giuseppe Della Chiesa has designed the track here at Badminton and he’s gone for more of a big bold old-fashioned style track. It’s a bit longer than in previous years and it runs in the same direction as last year (unusually) – which means the Lake comes near the end of the course instead of the middle. This is because 2016 marks 25 years of sponsorship from Mitsubishi Motors and the iconic pick up trucks (silver this year instead of the traditional red) come at fence 25 (25 years – geddit?).

Find out what Giuseppe and some of this year’s riders had to say about the track.

Course designer Giuseppe Della Chiesa

“The main feature this year is the balance of the different elements of the course. At the end of the day Badminton is very traditional – you have the Quarry the Lake and Huntsman’s Close Vicarage Vee and the New Pond – but how these fences are linked together this year is different to normal. We are using the same direction as last year but then it changes – instead of coming to the Lake you go off in a different direction and coming to the Lake near the end. We’ve tried to be soft with the questions here because it comes later in the course.”

Mark Todd

“There’s a big course out there to jump and it is a testing course. It’s all the way round and you just have to concentrate. Hopefully we’ll have a good ride. The Vicarage Vee is always an ugly looking fence so I hope we jump that alright too.”

Laura Collett

“From start to finish its intense particularly from the logs all the way round to Vicarage Vee line is big and you can’t make any mistakes because the next question is right upon you.”

Kerry Varley

“I think it’s very jumpable but very intense there’s only a couple of let-up fences the whole way round.  It’s very big and wide instead of narrow and technical which would have suited us better with him being so small. But he feels fitter than ever so I’m hoping he’ll finish full of running. It’s things like the big oxer in the water that he’ll struggle with because he’s just not big enough!””

Tina Cook

“Cross-country day is hopefully where he’ll shine. It’s big there are a couple of technical questions where you could be unlucky and have a run out. You want a horse with scope and gallop as some of those oxers are very wide. I think the ground will ride nicely and it should be an exciting competition. I don’t really look forward to any of it! The day before you always end up questioning your sanity! I’ve got to stay on and not muck up jumping into any of the waters.”

Zara Tindall

“I think it’s a great course. There are a lot of big fences out there and plenty to do and lots of places where things can happen. Hopefully we can manage to do a nice quick clear round. All of the fences! At this level you can’t really think of any of them as being easy they all have to be jumped. The Vicarage Vee end is going to take quite a lot out of them so you have to see how you get home from there.”

Blyth Tait

“I’m going to give this horse as good a ride as I can. I’m going to set out positive and see how he feels – at this stage I’m planning to attack and do all the straight routes though I’ll have to see what the weather is doing and how the course is riding.”

Sam Griffiths

“It’s pretty big and daunting so you’ll have to be on top of your game. My mare has been round here a few times and knows her way round but while that gives me confidence it doesn’t make it any easier. Vicarage Vee is one we’ll be looking out for but there’s a whole host of combinations – particularly in the middle of the course – that could catch you out and that has a culminative affect so you’ll have to be on your toes the whole way round.”

Izzy Taylor

“It’s a big track a long way round and a lot of jumping efforts. I don’t think there’s any particular bogey fence – I might be proved wrong!  – and hopefully the trouble will be spread round the course. You’ll have to keep alert on you’re a-game and make sure the horse is with you.”

Jonelle Price

“It is big and it is bold. It’s long at close to 12min but the ground looks super so I think we’re going to see some really good rounds. I hope the time is influential it will really help my cause. The Shogun Hollow after the Bank doesn’t look a favourite question at around 8min it’s a bit out of context with the rest of the track and they might be starting to feel a bit fatigued.”

Nicola Wilson

“I think Giuseppe has done a fantastic job designing the course – and I think all of it will be influential.”

Emily King

“I really like the look of the course it’s a big bold attacking course but still some technical questions. Brook responds well to bigger tracks that you have to get stuck in to. If I ride it well hopefully he’ll respond.””

Joseph Murphy

“The Showgun Hollow the hedges on the way home is quite an ask. But in general I think the course flows well and it’s all in front of you to jump so it’s about kicking on and making it happen.”

Boyd Martin

“It’s what I expected – a big testing course.”

Louise Harwood

“I think it’s really big. Individually I can manage all the jumps but putting them together when they get tired there’s potential to slip up at any of them.”

Sarah Bullimore

“I think it’s a really good course it’s a strong track but I’m looking forward to it. I’ve got two fabulous jumpers. Bring it on.”

Gemma Tattersall

“It’s a serious true four-star track with plenty out there to jump. It’ll suit Arctic Soul with big jumps and scopey stridings. I think the Swindon Designer Outlet Mound is really challenging it’s a real accuracy question. At Vicarage Vee you’ve got to get on your line and ride your line.”

Tim Price

“The course suits my guy down to the ground – he’ll jump anything he’d jump off a cliff for me if I asked. It’s just a matter of placing him well and keeping a good rhythm. It’s not too samey there’s quite a lot of variation. Vicarage Vee I will embrace the challenge you want a good shot then the Outlander Bank is quite big and the Shogun Hollow is the one to watch it has an open left side. You have jobs to do everywhere.”

Beanie Sturgis

“I think it’s a good track there are a lot of get out of jail cards if you ride sensibly you should get home. I’m here to have a good fast clear round. I wouldn’t swap mine for any other horse tomorrow. I’m looking forward to all of them – I’m going to go the slow route at Shogun Hollow as he always jumps birch clean and he won’t brush through it and I’ve ridden him for 14 years and I know that it’s his weak link.”

Oliver Townend

“It’s a serious course and a serious stamina test. It’s definitely Badminton!”

Horse & Country’s coverage of Badminton is brought to you in association with Blue Chip Feed.