Without a shadow of doubt, it is a proper Badminton track – up to height, very square and over slightly undulating ground...
Caroline Moore FBHS is the British Eventing National u18 Coach and Junior Team Coach. She is also co-owner of Ros Canter’s ride Allstar B, currently lying in 6th place. Caroline walked Kelvin Bywater’s showjumping track and here are her thoughts on it:
“Without a shadow of doubt, it is a proper Badminton track – up to height, very square and over slightly undulating ground. There are no half distances, but there are distances that are a little long or a little short which will make the riders think.
Fence 1 is the only ascending spread on the course and the relevant factor here is that horses will be jumping towards the Members area and therefore ‘into’ a bank of people (not literally, of course). That could be a little spooky from the horses points of view.
The turn between fences 1 and 2 needs patience, don’t rush it. The upright at 2 is followed by an oxer on four strides, then a turn to 4, another upright. This turn has the potential to be a ‘wanderer’. Riders need to really ‘make’ the turn.
Fence 4 is a set of planks to a short six strides to fence 5ab – with a cross-country fence behind.
Again the turn to 6 is important and somewhere that riders can move on and make up some time. Horses will be jumping a) a water tray and b) away from the collecting ring. It’s likely to be an inside eight or outside nine strides between 5 and 6.
Two uprights at 7 and 8 follow, and the designer has been kind giving riders fence 4 to turn around. Fence 8, is bottle green and rather bland which could make it a ‘casual’ fence that doesn’t engage the horses full attention. There are no white stripes on the poles to make it stand out.
Fence 9 is a big square oxer followed by a balancing five strides to fence 10, another upright. Again, the turn to fence 11 must be finished properly, it will come up quick.
There is another opportunity to move on between 11 and the treble at 12. I have advised Ros (Canter) to jump the first element slightly to the right of centre due to a small undulation on the left. There’s a long one stride between a) and b) and a short one stride between b) and c) – again the designer has been very clever.
And then the last, fence 13, and completion!
I think the course is slightly kinder than at Burghley last year. The ground there is more undulating and there was more having to move on and back at Burghley. It will be interesting to see how many clears we have today.