Badminton really does generate an atmosphere like no other horse trials does, a real buzz is always in the air, and I think you’d be hard pushed to replicate the magic formula they are using, but I suspect the Duke’s enthusiasm has a lot to do with it.
Thursday’s First Inspection Day started a little grey and overcast, and unfortunately only got worse (in terms of weather), when by mid morning the rain had set in. This really didn’t dampen any spirits and the cross country course was awash with people walking the course.
The trot up itself drew a decent crowd although press and photographer numbers were noticeably down, I can only assume the Credit Crunch is still biting in media circles.
In my last post I was probably a little harsh on the cross country course, and whilst the main thrust of my point in that post was the lack of imagination used in devising the course (I still stand by that!), having walked it once more there are some very interesting nuances that only really come to light once you see the course in its polished state. For example on approaching the lake the Mitsubishi Pick Ups are jumped and almost on landing you need to turn sharp left to take the ‘fast’ route through the lake over a narrow wicker fence.
I think this is going to catch out a few ambitious riders who will either glance off the narrow fence or have no option but to take the ‘longer’ route. Personally I think it will be entirely possible to make the time using the longer route as long as you have your horse organised going through the water. I wouldn’t be surprised if a horse goes for a deep swim trying this longer route though.
The Colt Pond is still my ‘bogey’ fence though. The angle is so acute over the two brush fences it’s very tempting to glance off one of them. Small nimble horses should fair best here. The bigger horses will need to slow the pace right down, which given the vicarage vee comes next is not ideal.
Anyway Dressage tomorrow, but more interestingly it’s Grassroots cross country day. I did have a little wander over to look at their dressage and was impressed by the dedication of the competitors to their warm up and tests, if also a little amused at the eclectic mix of horses, ponies and riders, something you’re really not used to seeing at Badminton. Still what a treat for both them and us.