2022 Cross Country Course
Eric Winter’s course design
Take a fascinating interactive tour with six times Badminton winner Lucinda Green and course designer Eric Winter. Filmed walk-throughs, drone flyovers, photos, audio, intelligent direct and alternative routes and statistics.
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THE COURSE DESIGNER – Eric Winter (GBR)
It is GREAT to be back. It is difficult to describe what a big hole Badminton not running for the past two years has left in the equestrian community. This will be my fourth Badminton course and probably the biggest and boldest course to date with a taste than previous years with plenty of let outs for the less experienced combinations. When I am writing I am hoping for good weather on cross country day and that we enjoy a great day’s sport. Every year I think what an honour it is to design a course for the best eventing horses and riders in the world. I think this year’s course should allow the best to show how fantastic they are and allow up and coming combinations to learn and build a platform for the future. One thing is for sure, we will all know more on Saturday evening than in the morning.
Fence by Fence IllustrationsArtwork of the fences is by Caroline Bromley-Gardner.
1. Spillers Starter
.We start in the main arena with the Spillers Starter. This is a fairly simple fence, only made difficult by the nerves of both horse and rider jingling in their tummies.
Mike Weavers Haywain is the second fence. It’s a tradition of Badminton to have this fence on the course and this year it’s at fence two. It’s a big fence for the second fence standing at 1.20 high with a 1.70 top spread.
3. Badminton Logs
The Badminton Logs at fence 3 are unchanged from 2017 when the jumped very well at the top of their bank.
4. abc HorseQuest Quarry
Quarry is one of the traditional fences at Badminton. This year it is the first combination on the course. Starting with a log at the top of a steep bank. How horses jump this will be very relevant to how they go into the main lake later in the course. Then there are two routes. I expect the smaller wall up hill to the brush mound will be the more popular route although the brush mound behind the wall at the top of the steep slope gives the riders more time but will use more energy. The course is long and quite hilly this year so conserving power on these early stages will be paramount.
5. RDA Fund Raiser
RDA Fundraiser is a simple fence but it is placed to not allow the horses to get a clear view of the fence until the last minute. There is a slower route around the tree but I think because we have put a tree in the right hand side of the ditch to help them, most will go the shortest route.
6. abc Voltaire Design Huntsman’s Close
Voltaire Design Huntsman’s Close is a series of three brush hedges. As the riders come into the wooded area the tree on their right sets the angle to the first hedge. To jump hedge A and B is easy, it’s only when you see the angle to the third hedge that the problem becomes apparent. The key to this little conundrum is to accept the angle of the first hedge so that you can arrive at the second hedge pointing at the third hedge. This will demand a good degree of control but there is room to snake it a bit if necessary.
7. Pedigree Kennels
Pedigree Kennels should come as a bit of a breather. Although it’s very big there is a nice run to it and should jump well.
8. Lightsource BP Lower Lake
The Lightsource bp Lower Lake is a brush fence coming out of the lake at the house end. It’s set at a bit of an angle to the water’s edge. It should jump well but is not to be disregarded. If you are in too much of a hurry here it could cause a very annoying run out.
9, 10ab Badminton Lake
Badminton Lake is jumping the opposite direction to the last few years. The riders have to almost ride past the jump into the lake before rolling back to the very big brush log into the water. How you approach this, keeping enough revs in the engine on the turn, will be the key to doing all you can as a rider to this fence, then it’s down to your horse being brave enough. If you get a good jump in then the two narrow brushes that follow should come up well. If you land over the brush log discombobulated, then a run out is definitely on the cards.
11. World Horse Welfare Lakeside
World Horse Welfare Lakeside is a fence that was jumped for the first time in 2019 although it was in the opposite direction. The big table/platform has water running along the top of it. This didn’t affect the horses last time but from this direction it has the added difficulty of the approach meaning they have to run close to the water’s edge which may some of the more spooky horses.
12ab. Clarence Court Egg Boxes
Clarence Court Egg Boxes. Although these two egg boxes are big and the jumpable area is quite narrow on each box it should be a straight forward fence. It is on a positive two strides and should provide a bit of a breather after the intense lake area.
13. Ford Broken Bridge
Ford Broken Bridge is a salute to the big rider frighteners of yesteryear. This fence just needs to be attacked by both horse and rider and it should ride well. It should provide some awesome pictures.
14abc. KBIS Brush Village
KBIS Brush Village is probably one of the most challenging combinations on the course. It sort of starts with the jump over the previous Broken Bridge. Having had a giant leap over that it will be interesting to watch the riders getting their horses re organised to approach the big brush box as the first part of this combination. From here they have to find a good line and positive approach to the two giant brush corners. There is a forward three strides between the corners. The slight downhill between them should help this happen but the downhill ground between the first and second elements could make the first corner come up very quickly. There is a slower route to this and I think several of the less experienced combinations might be clever to consider this.
15. Mars Equestrian Footbridge
Mars Equestrian Footbridge is a staple of the Badminton courses nowadays. It’s a on an angle over a yawning big ditch. Bearing in mind that by the time they leave this area of the course they will have crossed this ditch four times, a good jump here will be essential.
16. Countryside Alliance Roll Top Brush
Countryside Alliance Roll Top Brush is one of the biggest fences on the course but comes in the middle of a big galloping part of the course and is a nice rounded shape so should jump well.
17. Mars Equestrian Sustainability Bay
Mars Equestrian Sustainability Bay is the same as in 2019 when it caused several stops at the jump into the water. That year it was their first time getting their feet wet but this year they have already jumped the main lake. it is a difficult approach to the roll top through the trees on the downhill slope and a sharp turn to the trough after. Not enough pace and you stop at the first element but too much pace and you shoot past the trough.
18abc. LeMieux Leap
LeMieux Leap is a new fence this year using the enormous ditch that has always had a log over it before. Down the hill to the big upright brush is the first part of the question, but the riders don’t want to let them run and get too big a jump over the brush. It would be easy to land between 3.8 meters or 12 feet behind this fence but that will make the ditch come up very quickly. A controlled jump over the brush should mean that they can ride forward to the big ditch and then the three strides should come up well to the narrow brush at the bottom of the slope but with a fence like this, anything can happen. The ground is very steep down to the third element and it wouldn’t surprise me if some horses jumped from two strides if they jump the ditch very big. It’s a straight line between the elements but sit tight and expect the unexpected.
19ab, 20. Nyetimber Corners
Nyetimber Corners are two big right–angled corners. The first one is built just behind a small hill/lump in the ground. Cross Country fences are measured from the point that the average horse would take off. A lump in the ground like this can add 20 to 30 centimetres to any fence. In between the two corners is a big dip in the ground. The key to this is to ride the first corner and then ride the second. I know that sounds obvious but restructuring the canter and thinking of them as two separate fences will really help. There is a slow route to this fence but it is a very long way around.
21,22. Rolex Rails
Rolex Rails is another big ditch. Although this is a maximum dimension fence and the ditch looks vast if you stand in it, this should be a let up for the true five–star combinations.
23ab. Holland Cooper Vicarage Vee
Holland and Cooper Vicarage V has been in the course at Badminton for well over 30 years but still asks all the questions of a true five–star horse. The rails are on an angle over the junction between two ditches. The rider has to find a good line on approach and the horse has to hold the line whilst jumping over the corner of the two ditches. A true test. It will be interesting to see if the big ditch and rails prior to this make it jump better or worse.
24abcd. Lightsource BP Solar Farm
Lightsource BP Solar Farm has two distinct ways. The left–hand side is a fence at the top of the bigger bank then through the old sunken road and up the bank out to a bounce at the top. A bounce is two fences that are placed in such a way that the horse does not have space to take a full stride and has to touch down and take off in the same movement. The right–hand side has four elements all on differing angles and stride patterns. I think most of the horses will take the bounce option as it is less effort but some horses hate bouncing so there is another route.
25. Badminton Collection Flower Boxes
Badminton Collection Flower Boxes will be a relief to both horses and riders as this is definitely the start of the homeward run.
26ab, 27. Mars M
Mars M is the last place on the course where riders will have to ride a pre-set distance between two fences. This fence at the start of the course would cause no problems at all but after galloping for around nine and a half minutes the control goes a bit out of the window. It’s just a case of lining up the fences and sticking to the line but as I said, it’s not so easy on a tiring horse.
28. The Brewers Barrels
The Brewers Barrels is let up fence set under the trees. The end is getting closer.
29ab. Savills Hay Feeders
Savills Hay Feeder is an interesting fence towards the end of the course. There is a choice here. The riders can jump any of the two big hay racks at the top of the hill and any of the three narrow hay racks by the trees. That means there are six different routes through here, no one faster than the other. This is about knowing your horse and thinking which route would suit him best.
30. Joules Keepers Ditch
Joules Keepers Brush represents a significant change to previous years and could be the fence that makes the difference between winning and not. This is not because it’s a particularly difficult fence but because it asks the riders and their horses to slow down before the last hill to the finish. Normally they jump a big brush before storming up the hill. In my description of fence 4 I said riders had to be aware of not using too much energy early on in the course. This little speed bump will show the horses that have used the least amount of energy around the course and have the most stamina.
31. Rolex Trunk
Rolex Trunk jumps back into the collecting ring. It’s at the top of a little bank and normally jumps very well. The riders just need to keep the horse’s attention on the job rather than all their horsey friends in the cooling down area.
32. Platinum Jubilee
Platinum Jubilee is the last fence this year. This will be a welcome sight for all of those that have jumped around to here. As always with a last fence, don’t get carried away. You have not finished until you’ve jumped it successfully. After that you have a few hours until you can start worrying about the showjumping tomorrow.
I hope you enjoy the course whether you are walking or riding. It has been great fun to design and I would like to thank the whole team at Badminton for all your help throughout the last few years. Most of all I hope everyone has fun and stays safe.