Perhaps it’s seeing the Rolex Grand Slam winner and Olympic Champion, Michael Jung in action, fresh from his win at the Rolex Kentucky? Maybe its splashing the cash at Badminton’s extensive shopping village, or watching the thrills and spills of Saturday’s cross country, whilst soaking up the sun (we hope) from the Lakeside Complex?
You’re not the only one who’s excited either – We at The Gaitpost have had a catch up with some of the top event riders, grooms and photographers, to find out what they are most looking forward to in a week of jam-packed sporting action. We think you’ll have a thing or two in common with some of your favourites of the sport.
Competitor at Badminton 2017 with Zagreb. He has recently been called up to the British Senior Team to take part in the first leg of the FEI Nations Cup. Alex jokingly said,
“What I’d like to say, is I’m most looking forward to the prize giving! The cross country is my favourite part of Eventing, so I’m really looking forward to taking on Eric’s new course. He normally builds really big and bold and that suits me. It’s my first Badminton, so I am looking forward to taking in the whole experience. We’re going to enjoy it, but also try to be competitive. Zagreb is in the best condition of his life!”
Nominated for the Pikeur Amateur Rider of the Year at the Horse and Hound Awards 2016:
“I’m really looking forward to seeing my sponsor, Voltaire Design’s new bridle range unveiled for the first time at Badminton. Unfortunately, I can’t make Saturday’s cross country, so I’ll be glued to the BBC red button, where all the action will be live. I’m really hoping some new faces do well this year and have my money on Alex Bragg who has had some excellent results in the last few months and a good placing at Pau last year.”
Irish Olympian, who has been competing on the International circuit for over 20 years. He is competing at Badminton this year:
“I’m looking forward to the whole week! I’m riding the best horse I’ve ever ridden, at the best venue in the world, with the best support team, owners and family around me. The course looks great; I’ve done all the homework I could possibly dream of and my horse feels as ready as I could have him – What’s not to look forward to!”
Double gold medallist at the 2015 Young Rider European Championships and Guinea Pig rider for this year’s dressage test:
“The best dress rehearsal possible for competing at Badminton is this year, when Collien P II and I will do the test dressage test at arguably the most famous and prestigious 4* in the World.
Unfortunately, for me this is ‘just’ the dress rehearsal, as we take to the white boards early Thursday morning as the ‘Guinea Pig’. It’s an amazing opportunity to be marked by the Ground Jury without any pressure and to ride in such an atmospheric arena will hopefully set me up for the future.
The course preview looks fascinating – big, bold and technical, but then that’s just how it should be, after all it’s the biggest event in the calendar!”
Making her Badminton debut this year with ‘My Royal Touch’:
“I am very excited to be a part of this week’s Badminton Horse Trials, as the event is ingrained in the history of our sport. I always used to imagine competing at Badminton one day, when I was younger, so for it to hopefully become a reality is amazing.
To be competing against riders I have always looked up to, at the pinnacle of our sport will be such a huge privilege.”
Frequent member of Team GB at Junior and Young Rider level:
“It’s the only event where I feel I can sit and watch all the dressage. I love watching and having Carl and Pammy on Badminton radio and in the last couple of years have felt like I’ve learnt so much through watching and listening to their commentary.
Also, I am greatly looking forward to XC. Personally, I love Eric Winter’s courses, as he builds them so big and bold, really rewarding forward riding, so it will be exciting to see the new course and how it rides.”
Frequent competitor at 4* level, last completing Badminton in 2015 with Greenlawn Sky High:
“I’m not competing this year, so I’m really looking forward to going to watch one of the ladies who is part of my syndicate compete in the grassroots on Wednesday. After that, I’m looking forward to a day off on Saturday, watching all the action from the comfort of my couch!”
Irish team member for the Rio Olympics in 2016:
“I am looking forward to seeing Michael Jung in action again and seeing if he can continue his domination. Also, I am really looking forward to shouting on a very strong Irish contingent.”
Behind the scenes photographer for Badminton Horse Trials:
“I feel so privileged and lucky to work as a photographer for Badminton. While the official & chief photographer is Kit Houghton, my brief is to photograph Badminton behind the scenes to capture the emotion and atmosphere of the event. The photos are used on the Badminton website and social media. It’s great fun and a wonderful opportunity to photograph Eventing’s superstars, both two-legged and four! Badminton is such a special place and everyone involved experiences the same Badminton fever. My first visit was aged eight – camping for the duration of the event back in the day of long format. I have been hooked ever since! I’ve attended Badminton as a spectator, groom, trainer and now photographer. It’s the highlight of my year every year.”
Competitor at Badminton 2017. This event will not only be her Badminton debut, but also her first 4*:
“I would say that I’m most looking forward to achieving a lifetime ambition of competing at Badminton. I always came to watch as a child and have been determined to get there ever since and now it’s becoming a reality. It is a privilege to be able to compete on such a World-class stage, at the best event in the World. I can’t wait!”
Longstanding Head Groom for Badminton competitor, Tom McEwen:
“This will be my first year properly grooming at Badminton and although the huge atmosphere and shopping promises to be unlike any other event, I can’t deny that I’m most looking forward to seeing how my horse and rider perform. I’ve groomed for them since their first BE100 and to now watch them go around at 4* level is truly overwhelming. Although, of course along with the other grooms, I’m hoping that it all goes to plan and most importantly both horse and rider come home safe and sound. I went to Pau with them last year which was great, but everyone raves about how Badminton is the best, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what they all mean.”
Completed Burghley last year with Cossan Lad and was on the wait list with the same horse for Badminton 2017, unfortunately, narrowly missing out:
“This year I’m excited to walk the cross-country course to see what Eric Winter has in store for the riders. The course looks fantastic from what I can see – big, bold and back to what cross country should be. Eventing isn’t meant to be a dressage competition and I think this year we will see a great spectacle.”
Senior Event rider, who has completed Badminton on numerous occasions with ‘Skip On II’, with 2015 being their final 4* outing together:
“The lead up to Badminton is totally different from riding to not riding. Certainly, you don’t get the nerves when your horse isn’t entered. I look forward to watching my Eventing friends take on the challenge. I always enjoy walking the course so I can still keep my eye in for the year I return!”
Team GB event rider, who completed Badminton for four successive seasons (2008-2011) with the aptly-named, ‘Barry’s Best’:
“I am most looking forward to walking the course and seeing the changes with the hope I will be back to ride it soon. Also, I just love soaking up the atmosphere and of course, a bit of shopping!!”
Up-and-coming Team GB event rider, who has won medals at Pony and Junior level:
“I’m most looking forward to seeing some of the best riders in the world take on one of the most challenging courses there is. It is always unbelievable to watch and a real show-case of a class field of horses and riders.”
Member of Team GB at Young Rider level:
“I first visited Badminton when I was seven. It captured my imagination and it has been a childhood dream to ride there since. I haven’t been to Badminton cross country day for a couple of years, so I am excited about being there this year, particularly with the new design of the course! The atmosphere is always incredible, being able to watch the top horses and riders tackle the course close up. After the buzz of the day, I’m looking forward to walking the course, which is both inspiring and terrifying in equal measure. Hopefully it will be me and my horse Harry there in a few years!”
Member of Team GB at the European Championships in 2015 with DHI Lupison:
“This year I am most excited to see how the riders tackle Eric Winter’s cross country course, as for the past few years it’s been very different. Also, there are some extremely good first timers and also a lot of friends that I will be so excited about watching and screaming on… And of course, my boyfriend, Tom McEwen who is riding the awesome, Toledo de Kerser, who I believe will be incredible to watch. There have been a lot of changes this year to the course and I can only hope everyone gets home safe and sound.”
Lissa Green and Willa Newton are both Badminton debutantes this year and are most looking forward to tackling the phenomenal cross country, designed by Eric Winter. Seasoned pro, Ingrid Klimke also says that “for sure, the cross-country course” is the part of Badminton she is most looking forward to.