This year’s MARS Badminton Horse Trials marks a very special occasion indeed: it’ll be the 75th anniversary of the world’s first five-star, which began in 1949 as a way to build strength in depth in British eventing. Not only that, but it’s also the first year that we’ll see equestrian benefactor behemoth MARS Equestrian in the title sponsorship role – and already, the positive effects of this appointment are in evidence. This year, we’ll see the prize pot increase by a chunky 12%, making the total purse an impressive £425,000 – the richest in eventing. For the winner, that’s excellent news; they’ll take home £117,600, and we’ll see prize money increases throughout the line-up, too.
The spring five-star season in an Olympic year is always particularly interesting: for those horses and riders who have something to prove for selection, events like Badminton become even more important, while many of the ‘shoo-ins’ for selection will be notable in absentia as they keep their horses on ice for Paris. That means that the competition is particularly fierce as competitors vie for selector attention, and it can also mean that the horses and riders that may have snuck under the radar previously get their opportunity to take the spotlight and swing upwards into superstardom.
And, of course, it’s particularly fitting to have an anniversary year of this special event tie in so neatly with the Olympics – after all, it was the 1948 London Olympics that inspired the formation of the Gloucestershire fixture. That Olympics marked Britain’s first-ever three-day event, but the home nation didn’t cover itself in glory – and Henry Somerset, the 10th Duke of Beaufort, offered forth his estate as a way to improve upon their performance by creating an event at home in England that would provide all the experience necessary to compete on the world stage. It’s pretty safe to say that the job was done, and admirably: in 1956, the British team took the Olympic gold in Stockholm, and since then, they’ve been one of the most formidable nations in the sport. They’ll head into Paris as the reigning team champions, and no doubt we’ll see some previous winners of Badminton among the line-up.
“Badminton is the competition all riders aim for and competing there has undoubtedly played a big part in my career,” says the 2023 winner Ros Canter, who a few months later went on to become the European champion riding Lordships Graffalo. “I think we are all really excited to be part of its history this year.”
“We are very much looking forward to welcoming everyone—riders, owners, officials, spectators, sponsors, tradestand holders and contractors — to Badminton’s big birthday,” says Event Director Jane Tuckwell. “We are delighted to be able to increase the prize money across the board, as befits such a prestigious occasion. We have some exciting plans to make this a really memorable occasion and are particularly delighted that it coincides with Mars’s first event as title sponsor.”
Badminton TV will be screening plenty of historic and preview material in the run-up to the event as well as livestreaming all the action. All details can be found here.
Priority booking for the event is open and 10th January will see the general release of tickets. All tickets for the event must be purchased in advance – there will be no tickets available on the day at the gate.
We’ll be bringing you plenty of extra content in the run-up to Badminton this year, including in-depth insights into the history – and the impact – of one of our favourite events. Keep it locked on EN, and join us for all the action.