It’s always an exciting day when Badminton releases its course preview video, and we now have our first look at Giuseppe della Chiesa’s second-year design for this legendary track, which caused more than a few shakeups last year. Giuseppe has definitely softened the course in some spots, though it won’t be an easy test by any means.
The course goes in the opposite direction from last year, and Huntsmans Close now comes much earlier in the course at fence 8. That’s a much kinder placement than last year, when the massive corner combination came in the final third of the course and proved to be too much for many of the horses.
There are four water complexes on course this year, starting with a simple splash over a log at the first water at fence 10, the Outlander Low Lake, which then leads to The Lake at fences 12, 13 and 14. This is always an influential spot on course; Mark Todd took his memorable deep-end swim here last year.
The Swindon Designer Outlet Mound and Mirage Pond both return to the course at fences 15, 16 and 18, but the riders won’t be jumping the Vicarage Vee this year; the Normandy Bank and Shooting Butt, which we typically see on course, are also sitting it out in 2015.
The Gatehouse New Pond premiered on course last year and has been revamped to up the ante at fence 20. Andrew Nicholson’s fell from Nereo here as the final pair on course last year, so it’s certainly not a question to be taken for granted.
The Shogun Hollow at fence 22 gives riders a choice as to how to navigate the rolltops and deer feeders presented here, and then it’s on to the final third of the course, which has also been softened since last year.
There’s a big open oxer combination at the Sense Birch Rails at fences 25 and 26, and Savills Escalator features an all new look at fence 28, having been moved to a different location with flatter terrain. Then it’s on to the finish as riders tackle the final three elements on course.
You can preview the course and hear Giuseppe’s commentary in the excellent video provided by Badminton below. Sketches of each fence on course are available at this link, and Badminton also posted an explanation of the course on the At Badminton blog at this link.