Riders have been tweeting about sending their entries in for Badminton, and every time they do, the excitement raises a notch. It’s not that far off now, and anyone who loves Eventing should be doing anti-rain dances for the next 7 weeks.
I managed a quick word with Julian Seaman, the indefatigable Press Officer for Badminton, and gleaned a couple of bits of information from him. Firstly, unsurprisingly, the xc course will be very similar to last year’s (which of course wasn’t ever used due to the fact that Badminton Park resembled a giant paddy field.) Secondly, one addition is going to be a fence from Greenwich, and if you do some determined hunting on the Badminton website you can find it… but it doesn’t look much without the fence dressings, so I didn’t steal the picture for here! I’m intrigued though, where are they going to incorporate that into the course?
The 2012 course is here. It looks wonderful. The Outlander Bank with the owl-hole on top fascinated me last year, can’t wait to see how that rides. The Shogun Hollow, ditto… it looks like a very old-fashioned ‘in’, a proper ‘Coffin’ upright, and anyone who doesn’t get the approach right might be punished. I am so excited to see the course, walk it, and marvel at how it rides!
The battle for the highest honours is going to be very hard-fought this year. We have William Fox-Pitt, going for the Grand Slam, and you can bet he’ll be using all the firepower available to him from his enviable plethora of 4* horses. Shame they’ve changed the rules and riders can no longer take 3 horses round, as they could back in Long Format days!
Michael Jung makes the trip across for Badminton for the first time. Greenwich proved that he is beatable (since he didn’t lead the dressage) but also, conversely, that he is quite exceptionally hard to beat! And of course Andrew Nicholson finished last season on flying form with a point to prove after the Olympic dressage debâcle, so if he can maintain that form, he’ll be an even more tough opponent than usual. Of course, there will be a host of other riders all vying for the top spots too…. it’s going to be fabulous.
And I haven’t even mentioned the shopping… that’s for another day!