Who is looking forward to The Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials next week? I sure am! Badminton for me always marks the start of Summer, regardless of the weather being on our side or not.
I was lucky enough to attend the Press Preview Day earlier this month, by kind permission of His Grace, The Duke Of Beaufort. The event was held at Badminton House, which as one can imagine was truly incredible so I thought I would share my experience of this with you all, ahead of next week's event.
Image taken at last year's event by the lakeside.
We were greeted with tea and coffee on arrival as well as a selection of freshly baked cookies and biscuits, which after a long drive and early start, I welcomed with open arms.
After a little bit of networking and catching up with familiar faces, we were welcomed by Lance Bradley, the MD of Mitsubishi Motors ahead of his decision to step down
as MD after 17 years.
This was followed by a brief introduction to the 2018 Horse Trials, Mitsubishi Motors Cup by Event Director Hugh Thomas who also announced that the British Horse Society would be this year's Charity Of The Year.
Following this brief introduction we were invited to head towards the front of the house where a fleet of pristinely clean, brand new Mitsubishi Outlanders were waiting patiently for us to hop into and drive around the cross country course. I thought this was an excellent initiative from the team at Mitsubishi as not only did it give us the most luxurious touring experience in the warm but it also allowed us to get a real feel for the cars at the same time - almost like an impromptu test drive around one of Britain's most iconic country estates.
Fleet of Mitsubishi Outlanders outside Badminton House on a rather grey and drizzly looking day.
An old work friend of mine suggested we share the same car and we were lucky enough to be joined by Eric Winter himself. For those of you who don't know who Eric is, (don't worry, I didn't until the day) he is the incredibly talented Cross Country Course Designer for Badminton Horse Trials. This allowed us to speak to Eric first hand and find out a little bit more about what being Badminton's XC Course Designer entails. I was bold enough to admit that I hadn't ever fully walked the course during any of the events I had attended at the estate over the years, to which he wasn't best pleased... but hey I was only being honest. I appreciate that so much time and effort goes into creating and designing the course but similarly to my naivety with not having walked his courses before... I doubt he had ever even heard of In The Country before that day, let alone read a copy himself.
It was so interesting to hear how much really goes into designing such a world class course. It isn't just as simple as placing some jumps around the estate that is for sure. Eric knows how the event runs here, having been Technical Delegate at the event from 2011 to 2014 and even competed here as a rider back in 1991. Each and every fence has been designed to test both the horse and rider's individual abilities but also to test their capabilities as a team.
Speaking to us in the car Eric said "To be successful at Badminton, you need to know your horse." He suggested that it is important for the various combinations to pick their own routes dependent on what both the horse and rider are good at, play to your strengths as they say. For more information about this year's XC course, click here.
After battling to stay dry amidst the April Showers and trying to see as much of the course as we could, we headed back to the house in convoy for some more networking and pre-luncheon drinks.
The rooms as I am sure you can imagine were utterly magnificent. With grande, gold framed paintings decorating the walls of the enormous rooms, I really felt privileged to be standing there. The more and more I have the opportunity to meet new people and network, the more confident I am getting. However, walking into a busy room full of people you don't know is still rather daunting and I was quite surprised to find that I only knew one other person (my old work friend) at the event and so I literally felt like I knew no one, especially as this person knew the majority of others in the room...
It was up to me to introduce myself and spark up conversations with people, despite how terrifying the task ahead of me seemed, otherwise I would just be standing there for god only knows how long staring at the paintings holding a glass of quickly disappearing Champagne.
Lunch was delicious. It was a three course, light buffet style service. All wonderfully healthy of course which was good news for me given the jockey training requirements. I was interested to learn that the room we were in fact having lunch in was the room in which the game of Badminton was played - hence the name, AND would you believe, that apparently the size of a traditional Badminton court is the exact same size as the room we were in. Cool history fact huh?!
After a truly tasty lunch, it was time to head home to sort the horses out and to hit the gym. It makes a change, being able to come to such a wonderful event in such a stunning location and still be able to make it home with day light still to spare.
This one of a kind Eventing showcase starts on Wednesday 2nd May and finishes on Sunday 6th May.
Tickets are available to buy on the day and eventing aside, the shopping villages and food halls are unbelievable.
You'll be sure to find some of your favourite brands, I can't wait to catch up with many of them and see lots of exciting new products, now that the show season has started again.
I will be there on the Friday doing an Instagram take over for the lovely County Equestrian Jewellers so if any of you see me, as always please do say hi, I love chatting to you all. I will most likely be found by The Game Chef's stand queuing up for my pheasant wrap!!
Until next time...
Lots of love,