Gird your loins, chaps: the countdown is ON to the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, and we, for one, couldn’t be more excited — not least because this year is a special one. 2019’s competition is the 70th anniversary of the inaugural Badminton, and since its first running in 1949 the sport, the venue, and the characters within this epic story have changed and evolved significantly. To celebrate 70 years of brilliant Badminton, we’re going to be bringing you an extra-special inside look at the event and its rich and exciting history, every week from now until the competition begins on May 1. Consider the archives your own personal Gringotts, and EN your loyal goblin sherpas.
This week, as we pour our time and attentions to your bumper Badminton form guide, we’re filling in the gap with help from our pals at the event — you’re in for a real treat!
If you’re anything like us, you absolutely live on the Cross Country App when the season starts. Forget wheeling your course — this GPS-powered mini marvel allows you to work out minute markers as you walk, leaving you free to plot the best possible line, take pithy notes, and snap photos of your fences and your routes. It’s great for spectators, too, allowing you the chance to do a deep dive into the courses at internationals the world over.
We’re all for the innovative use of technology, so when our friends at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials told us they were launching a course ‘preview’ that would take its users 50 years back in time, we started to get excited. When the end result dropped, we absolutely weren’t disappointed.
Badminton is celebrating two special anniversaries this year: one is its 70th birthday, which we’re sure we haven’t let you forget quite yet. The other is the 50th anniversary of the youngest-ever winner, Richard Walker, who was just 18 years (and 247 days) old when he triumphed with his 15.1-hand Anglo-Arab, Pasha. Remarkable Richard has seen the course change and evolve enormously throughout the last 50 years and now, he’s helping to bring those changes to life for us all via an archival, interactive course map on the Cross Country App.
Want to give it a go? You can download the 1969 Badminton course directly to the app, but we recommend clicking through to the Badminton website and enjoying the experience full-screen. You’ll get to ride along through all four phases — roads and tracks, steeplechase, more roads and tracks, and finally, that beefy cross country course — with incredible archival photographs, footage, and endlessly fascinating audio clips explaining the whys, wherefores, and changes to this iconic course. No stone has been left unturned: you’ll see competitors running alongside their horses on roads and tracks, as explained by competitor and president of the Ground Jury Judy Bradwell, and you’ll head into the Formula One-esque 10-minute box with inspector Bill Bush. Then, you’ll head out on course with ’69 winner Richard Walker and learn which bits of the course really made his knees knock.
With insights into the development of safety technology, the rise of technicality, and the evolution of the Vicarage Vee, this is your afternoon sorted. Even better? If you’re a UK resident, you can enter the 1969 trivia competition to bag yourself a Badminton polo top from sponsor Joules.