Starting as ever in the main arena over the familiar flower bed, the ASX Starter (1) riders head left to a choice of inviting Rolex Feeder roll top spreads (2), one of very few portable fences on this track.
Earthworks have created a mound on the way through the car park where there is an impressive fallen tree on the top, the HorseQuest Hump (3).
This is designed to break up the natural flatness of the park on the way to the HorseQuest Quarry (4 AB), which Eric describes as back to being how God intended it, with a dry stone wall drop in and its counterpart coming left on the top of the incline.
“The second wall shouldn’t be a problem, horses run up these banks and jump fences at the top really well. The first fence is the issue.”
“Control will be of the essence here.” Eric Winter (Fence 4AB)
To avoid a flat out gallop there is a deviation through the trees to a very skinny brush with ditch to the fore on quite a sharp angle, the Rolex Grand Slam Skinny (5).
“If you want to go fast and you’re aiming to win this, then you’ve got to go inside of the tree and jump the fence on the angle.” Eric Winter (Fence 5)
It is then a right turn heading to Huntsman’s Close which this time consists of three very chunky logs on a tight turn (6 AB).
“I’m being pushed to the right by the roots of this tree, straight ahead of me I’ve got an un jumpable area so I’ve got to stay on the angle and as I’m in the air my whole being is concentrating on not letting my horse slip out of the gap that I’ve aimed him at as I jump B. Again the roots of the tree are going to throw me out to the left at part C.” Lucinda Green (Fence 6AB)
The new Traders Table (7) then keeps the rhythm going before last year’s log into the Lake (8), the Wadworths Water, this time transported to the House end of the water hazard.
“A nice introduction to what is coming.” Lucinda Green (Fence 8)
The entry to The Lake proper is the same route as last year over another massive log, with a brush in the water with a sharp right turn to a narrow brush up the slope (9 ABC).
“A very, very big fence in. A big drop down and there’s very little time to gather up your knitting and get your reins back and get yourself back in balance, your horse back in balance and remember he has no idea what’s coming next. “
“You’ve got to get in the nick of time him focused on the brush inside the water which you’re going to have to jump at an angle because of how you’re going to get over part C.” Lucinda Green (Fence 9ABC)
For the first time in many years the Mitsubishi L200s pickups (10) now come after the Lake as the riders go in front of the tented village and jump left over the imposing World Horse Welfare Gates (11).
Next comes a choice of maximum size parallels, the Formulate! White Oxers (12) and onto a natural Stick Pile (13). Turning right out of the Deer Park are a choice of corners (14), up a steep mound with a post and rails on the top (15) then down to another choice of corners away (16) at the Outlander PHEV Mound.
“A very very good fence.” Lucinda Green (Fence 14/15/16)
Heading towards the Luckington Lane is a massive triple bar with a drop, the Devoucoux Quad Bar (17). The following obstacle is perhaps simpler this time with a rail in and a parallel out (18 AB) at the Eclipse Cross Pond, then up the small hill over a let up brush, the Vicarage Rolltop (19) to the Hildon Water Pond, which consists of a log, slope into the pond, a running water trough and a hedge up the incline (20 ABC).
“I think the relationship between the Quad Bar (17) they’ve just come over and this fence (18AB) is absolutely the heart of cross country riding. You’ve got to have a horse and a rider that is brave enough to ride to the Quad Bar and then they’ve got to be careful enough and cat like to jump over this little skinny rail into the water.”
“They’ve got to go through the pond, across the water to the big parallel on the far side.”
“It’ll take some jumping because you’ll need that power as you come up this slope to get to the take off spot” Eric Winter (Fence 17/18AB)
The yawning National Star Trakehner (21) is next before the classic KBIS Vicarage Vee (22, 23) and then back into the Park over a rail, down to a ditch and up and out over a narrow house (24 ABCD), the Shogun Hollow.
“One of the great fences of Badminton, the KBIS Vicarage V. It runs a shrill of terror through all of us when you even mention the name. This year my first impression of it is a much kinder, inviting Vicarage V than I have ever seen and I wait to be proven wrong.” Lucinda Green (Fence 22/23)
The Countryside Haywain (25) comes next in front of the House, then it is the portable wooden box followed by the boxed in corners, the Joules Corners, formerly used in Huntsman’s Close (26 ABC).
First seen last year is a very square BHS Table (27) then up past the steps to the Crooked S Bullfinch on the mound (28).
Coming down the hill is a box brush followed by two skinny moustache jumps at an angle (29 ABC), Savills Escalator.
Three from home is the old standard Fischer Brush (30), a beautifully carved single log (31), the Rolex Treetrunk and into the arena to the prize winning Shogun Sport Saddles (32).
The general feeling of the course is rustically impressive.
Take a fascinating interactive tour with six times Badminton winner Lucinda Green and course designer Eric Winter. Filmed walkthroughs, drone flyovers, photos, audio, intelligent direct and alternative routes and statistics on the CrossCountry Lite App or on the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials website.