Badminton cross-country gets a freshen up

The Huntsman Close jump
The Huntsman's Close series of obstacles.

A fresh cross-country course awaits runners in this year’s Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.

Organisers say that hardly an obstacle remains unchanged on Hugh Thomas’s course. The designer said: ‘‘There are new questions all around the course, which should provide a thrilling competition in this Olympic year.’’

The run-down is:

After the ASX Crossover (1) in the arena and a left turn over the Deer Feeder (2) on the main track, the first real test is at the HorseQuest Quarry (3,4,5) a sweep of three massive logs, making use of the undulating ground, where, for the first time there are no alternatives.

A long gallop follows to the Irish Sport Horse Studbook Huntsman’s Close (6,7,8ab), a spread into the copse onto a bounce of hedges to a log on a left turn with a time consuming longer route for those who this early in the course have elected to go for a completion not a prize.

Up in front of the House to the familiar Wadworth Barrels (9) and then the crowd favourite Lake complex (10 abc). The direct way is over a big drop before two narrow hedges in the water and out, turning right to the backed up L200s (11). The Countryside Brushtop (12) is a welcome let up about halfway round, before competitors head out of the Deer Park over the Swindon Designer Outlet Sunken Lane (13 abc), a choice of lozenge boxes in and out.

The HSI Farmyard (14 ab) is the attractive Mike Weaver Hay Cart with a corner away, or two corners for the longer route. The Colt Pond (15 ab) now has a wide solid spread followed quickly by a brush screen, with daylight underneath, as the drop into the water. The Team GBR Footbridge (16) is a good old massive leap over the Vicarage Ditch before the Outlander Bank (17 ab), which now has the jump through brush hoop on its top.

Looping right, the next jump to come is the HSBC FEI Classic Beam (18) and up to the Shogun Hollow (19 abc) an upright rail to drop with a double of hedges back into the Deer Park. Another long stretch takes in the Rolex Grand Slam Shooting Butt (20) and the KBIS Table (21). The HSBC Market Place (22 abc) starts with a white gate with a direct line which takes in a right then left corner.

Going up Savills’ Staircase (23 abc) with its ‘skinny’ at the top is a stamina test towards the end of the course and the revamped i-MiEV Village (24 abc) is a treble of houses, with a choice of two as the middle option.

By the John Whitaker Keeper’s Brush (25) riders will be feeling they are nearly home, but after the World Horse Welfare Branch (26) the double of brushes at the Rolex Crossing (27, 28) demand respect before the relief of the Mitsubishi Motors Finale (29).

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