Badminton Horse Trials, one of the most established equestrian sporting events, entering a remarkable eighth decade. And with just under 60 days to go until the 2020 edition we can barely contain our excitement.
Badminton, which was recently awarded the L’Année Hippique ‘Best Event Award 2019 – Outdoor Eventing’ for the third time in six years, was started by the 10th Duke of Beaufort in 1949 to prepare riders for Olympic Games and has now evolved into the world’s oldest and most valuable horse trials.
Since the inaugural event, there have been 45 individual winners (including the year’s when the competition hosted Little & Great Badminton) from eight nations including 29 individual British winners.
So what do we need to know about this year’s event? Eventing Worldwide brings you the lowdown on what we know so far!
New look organising team
After an incredible 30 years at the helm, Hugh Thomas retired from his role as Event Director after the 2019 event. And his long-term Assistant Director Jane Tuckwell has now stepped into the role. Having worked at Badminton for most of her life, Jane has vast experience and knows all the stakeholders in the Horse Trials very well indeed – especially including the hundreds of volunteers without whom it would be impossible to stage the event.
Jane is being supported by Andrew Tucker, who took up a new full-time position of Commercial Director. Andrew has been assisting Badminton in a consultancy role for nearly 15 years.
Official Event Partners
After a record-breaking 28 years as title sponsor of the Badminton Horse Trials, 2019 marked the final year of Mitsubishi Motors sponsorship of the competition.
It is unlikely that there will be a title sponsor in 2020, but it was announced that there would be two new ‘Official Event Partners’ in MARS Equestrian™ and Science Supplements®, who are also sponsoring the Science Supplements Cup.
With 2020 being an Olympic year, a highly competitive international field is expected, with riders knowing that a strong performance at Badminton will help catch selectors’ attention, in the fierce contest for places at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Indeed, Badminton is getting behind Great Britain’s equestrian teams for the Olympic Games and announced that the British Equestrian Federation Fund (BEFF) will be its nominated fundraising partner for 2020.
But back to the competition itself, and as always entries will be limited to 85 horses. Riders may enter any number of qualified horses but only a maximum of two may be presented at the First Horse Inspection. Expect lots of double entries from the world’s top riders.
Entries close on March 19th 2020 and we will know about a week or so later who will be contesting this year’s competition.
Cross country course
Whilst the cross-country course won’t be officially be unveiled until later this spring, course designer Eric Winter has already been giving some sneak peaks of what can be expected on his fourth Badminton course.
Of the Broken Bridge, Eric says: “The creative thinking behind the bridge as well as some of the other new fences is that they will offer a trip down memory lane for spectators and competitors, whilst also creating a challenge for the modern-day event horse. Presenting a track that is a real spectacle for the many people who don’t understand the technicalities of strides, but love watching Badminton’s cross-country phase is really important too. That’s what I think big, iconic, show stopping fences like the Broken Bridge will do. It’s dramatic looking fences like this that really make a course exciting to ride as well as watch.”
The military connection
This year Badminton coincides with commemorations for the 75th anniversary of VE day, on Friday, 8th May which will also be the Early May Bank Holiday instead of the usual Monday. Out of all the winners of the competition, 12 riders had military backgrounds, including four-time winner Captain Mark Phillips.
Stay tuned as we’ll bring you all the updates you need to know, and more, in the run up to this year’s Badminton Horse Trials……