Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Badminton - The new Ryder Cup Venue?

I managed to get a sneak preview of the Badminton course today, generally reserved for the good and great of our glorious press, and the condition of the course is far cry from the drought ridden course we saw in 2007. There is a distinct difference between the the track and the surrounding grass. It looks like a top flight golf course fairway! Superb. I had become quite proud of my lawn until I went round Badminton

The whole course looks fantastic, and as expected its big, flowing and bound to present a few problems in more than one spot.  This picture shows the 3 fences that make up the shogun hollow, the first three fences of the 
"intense" vicarage fields sections, and this first one (foreground) is massive.

The next really interesting fence is fence 11 (the countryside turn), which is basically a ditch and brush fence. Sounds simple until you take into account the lie of the land and the shape and position of the fence, all cleverly crafted to give the uncommitted  horse plenty of options to duck out if not held steady on their line with plenty of impulsion.

The infamous vicarage vee is just a short canter away and probably as tough as its ever been. In order to get through quickly you have 2 narrow brush fences on an angle in the ditch (they almost hang in mid air above the ditch, there'll definitely be a few duck outs here. A softer but much slower option is also provided here.

The lake again shows how the course designer (and possibly his advisors) have carefully thought out how to provide a tough task rewarded by speed, and provide a softer option penalised by slowing up the riders. Whichever route you end up taking you can't avoid the toughest part of this complex which is once you have entered the water, there is no time to gather yourself together before tackling a brush fence in the water swiftly followed by a step and a  skinny.  I predict a few duckings!

My only minor criticism would be there is a little too much brush fence used on the course this year. 

I can't wait.........
ps. If you hear someone shout "FOUR" duck quickly.

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