Five fences to watch
Fierce argument has raged over the decision to lower the difficulty of Olympic and worldchampionship cross-country courses to three-star level, but Badminton remains the real, four-star deal and the first prize of £100,000, a world first for a single event, reflects that status.
The job of designing the course still holds a revered position in the industry and new incumbent Eric Winter has certainly put his stamp on it, with a mix of old-fashioned ‘throw-your-heart-over’ timber and modern accuracy tests. ‘Eventing is all about the relationship between horse and rider,’ he says, pointing out that nine out of the top 10 riders at Burghley last year had produced their horses from novice level. ‘I want to reward those partnerships and the trust they have in each other.’ An intriguing new complex that will be a test of horsemanship as riders have to ‘hunt’ their way over a bank, through a funnel and left or right over upright rails. Its design, two saddles carved into a log, was chosen in a public vote—4,000 of the 13,000 votes received went to Tots Hanson’s fence. It’s at the finish, where weary walkers can rest in an arena seat, watch the big screen and absorb the atmosphere.