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Galloping Course On New Turf At Badminton
Badminton, Glos., England

After extensive work on the going at Badminton, the course is all set for the 2008 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials which run from May 1st - 4th. Hugh Thomas's track is traditionally setting off in reverse direction to last year, starting in the main arena with the Mitsubishi Flower Bed. Riders then head left over the roll top Sheep Feeder as they head to the Horse Deals Quarry, an imposing log drop, then up the steep slope to another enormous log out.

The spirit of this year's course is for direct routes to be really beneficial for optimum time and rather fewer 'round the houses' easier options. The quick way at the Irish Sport Horse Studbook's Huntsman's Close involves a narrow log cottage on a turn to a wide brush corner and out over a familiar, but respect inducing, upright five bar gate.
Farm Yard Complex
There is then a longish stretch to the bottom end of the lake where horses will get their feet wet for the first time in the run up to the Wadworth's Barrels. Then it is to the lake complex proper where the first element consists of two backed up Mitsubishi L200s. The main route into the water is over the Willow Waves drop, a close brush upright in the water, which will test rein gathering, and a narrow Willow Wave out. Those taking the long option might as well stop off at the nearby bar, as their time will be completely compromised.

With the imposing sight of Badminton House in front, riders take on the maximum dimension Countryside Dining Table before heading to the Blue Cross Roundtops, a narrow box jump, then into the ditch, up a slope, and another serious aiming job.

The next is the Farm Complex, in honour of Hong Kong, who are hosting the equestrian part of the Olympic Games. This is a three parter on a curve, a corner, a hay cart and another corner, with the need to employ show jump striding expertise to ensure a smooth passage. Then on up to the Vicarage Ditch zone with The Colt Pond, a jump into water, through and out.

The Vicarage Ditch has a completely new look, with the direct route over a very narrow, angled brush, with a huge ditch in front. Back over the same stream at the Ditch and Rails and back again over the very imposing 'old style' Grandis Oxer. Right turn to The Outlander Bank, where the course edges into Wiltshire, with another 'skinny' to negotiate on landing and then back into the deer park at the Shogun Hollow.

There is then a good open stretch till the big but inviting Puffa Shooting Butts and then a couple of massive tree trunks at the Double Oaks. Petrol still needs to be in the tank climbing up the Immediacy Staircase and the uneven ground at the Lancer Village is a challenge so late in the course.

The Keeper's Brush is a nice flyer close to home, but riders can't get too carried away as they approach the angled logs at the Rolex Crossing. Then it is just the Mitsubishi Motors Garden in the main arena before a successful completion of the most famous cross country course in the world.

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