|Badminton | It looks tranquil, but just to the left.....|
With just 2 weeks to go everything, at Badminton is lush, green and a hive of activity! The area in front of the house is purposefully keep peaceful and tranquil, even during the build up to the event, strict orders from the Duke.
Lots of people always say the Badminton course doesn't change much year to year, and it's easier than Burghley, but without fail this course walks easier than it rides, and more of the top ten riders win Burghley than they do Badminton. This could be for a variety of reasons, like it's position in the calendar, weather etc, etc.
The course is familiar, but none the less tricky (Badminton XC Course). If you watched the recent Paul Tapner interview you'll see that plenty of riders set up practice fences in preparation for Badminton, and I suppose this can be useful when a totally new concept is introduced like the open corners that were introduced a few years ago that caught a few out, but generally at this level of the game I always think you're either ready for the course or you're not! The biggest thing you need to prepare for at Badminton is the crowds. Burghley is really the only place to come close to this type of capacity, other than a football match or a central London protest march [if you happen to have a police horse].
|Fence 11: The Outlander Bank | It's Big|
Look through the picture galleries on the Badminton website and you'll see that every fence is worth a visit, even the dull looking ones like the shooting butt, which plenty of horses 'over jump' to the delight of the crowds. If the leaves do make it out onto the trees in two weeks time I'd also pay special attention to the sunken road which this year I think would ride very differently depending on the amount of shade over the complex. This is a fence you wouldn't want to over jump on the way in as it could be quite a drop. Also Huntsmans' Close can be influential going in this direction, and I do hope Pippa Funnell copes with the gates this year (she fell twice in a previous year). She's one of the most exciting riders to watch cross country, head to the lake when she's on course and you'll see what I mean.
For me, the fielded entries this year make this a more exciting competition than any Olympics. Only the best of the best have got in, and that includes a decent number of first timers who will be looking to set themselves up for London 2012 selection. Looking at the horse power the more established team riders have though, I'd be surprised if any of them make even the subs bench.
Badminton is, and always will be, a very special competition for me, not least because it requires a rider to come out, almost cold and jump one of the biggest tracks you'll ever see in your life.
go download it! If you haven't got an iPhone or iPod touch here's your justification - the clock is ticking! Can you really suffer in silence whilst your friends taunt you with live updates, photos and videos from the event - or will you just lug a laptop around?
I find myself wanting to do loads of blogging during Badminton, I feel in the mood, however this year I seem to have numerous commitments, including a commission for a magazine (yes! and they even offered to pay), and also helping out 2 of the big names in traditional media plus all the other stuff I normally do during Badminton week, so instead I'm setting myself a sightly different blogging challenge. Once I've worked it out I share the concept next week.
All this talk of Badminton, it's iPhone App, it's new fangled animated graphics, has blown my week to pot! I still have a monumental trip to the states to plan for the week after Badminton including a stop by Rolex Kentucky, although it looks like I'll be missing the trot up and probably one day of dressage due to business meetings. Still maybe I'll find an excuse to stretch it out and stay for the Kentucky Derby the following weekend.
This is shaping up to be a great year, but I might just find myself living it at 600mph!
Now I must go find some accommodation! [plus 16 other things on my to do list before Monday]