Press Preview Day has whizzed around once again almost in the blink of an eye. I can remember last year's press event as if it was only a week or so ago. Events such as these are always hugely exciting and being amongst the limited number of selected members of the press invited along by the team behind the event is always a hugely privileged feeling. Badminton 2019 is beckoning and who is excited?! I know I am, for me the arrival of Badminton always signifies the start of Summer, regardless of whether the weather is in agreement or not. Mother Nature certainly has a mind of her own!
There is something really quite special about driving through the courtyard of such an incredible house with such presence. Normally during the event, we'll all drive into one of the many car parks dotted around the Estate and so to drive directly up to the house itself is a real treat!
Seeing the Estate and the course all but empty and bare apart from some grazing sheep and the skeletons of the Shopping Village, arenas and hospitality marquees is rather bewildering. Without the essence and atmosphere of the event being in full swing around you, you completely loose your bearings of where you are. Whereas during the event, it almost feels like you can navigate the Estate and all the various areas with ease.
Having attended last year, for the very first time, being invited back once again is hugely humbling. By kind permission of Their Graces, The Duke and Duchess of Beaufort, the team behind The Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials hosted the event at the gorgeous and iconic Badminton House. Being able to visit places such as Badminton House and attend such exclusives events such as this, is something I would never have imagined doing, and so, I absolutely love being able to share my experiences throughout the day and afterwards with you all and so I hope you enjoy finding out a little bit more about what we got up to on the day and what you can expect from this year's event in only a few weeks time!
The day kicked off at 10:30 and after a long drive from Sussex and an early start, I was delighted to be greeted with tea, coffee and fresh brownies on arrival as I made my way through the beautiful hall ways of the grande house and into the drawing room where we were all gathered. I caught up with a few familiar faces I recognised from last year's event, the girls at Eventing Worldwide are so so lovely and so I enjoyed hearing all about their news over the past year!
After a brief introduction to this year's event, we all headed out into the court yard where we found a fleet of Mitsubishi vehicles waiting for us. Compared to last year, we had been graced with sunshine this time around, albeit there was still a chill in the air.
Badminton course designer, Eric Winter, who is in his third year as course designer at Badminton was on hand to explain and pick apart this year's course. Keeping to his philosophy of 'making the tack look as naturally cross country as possible,' the fences all sit perfectly within the grounds of this quintessentially British Estate. There are 33 fences in total and whilst some of the fences remain practically un-changed, Eric's job is to constantly challenge the various combinations competition for the prestigious title.
Talking to us about his course, Eric's passion for what he does, shines through. Speaking to us in the car, last year, Eric explained that, 'to be successful at Badminton, you need to know your horse'. Something that I couldn't agree more with, so many of his jumps not only test the capability of the horse and rider but they test the relationship between the two. Does the rider know the horse?
One fence in particular that this year has captured my attention is fence No. 17abc/18. Mirage Water - this fence combination looks highly complex from the ground and without any ropes to guide our line of vision but when Eric broke it down for us, we could begin to see what he had envisaged and designed. Speaking earlier that morning about his course, he joked that, there are no new designs, only old ones which have been reinvented.
Explaining that this is a fence he would have typically seen out hunting in his younger years, he talks us through how this will be a real test of how well the rider knows their horse. He predicts some will jump it flat and will then struggle to make the turn on the other side whereas others will slow right down and hop over the ditch which will leave them with no impulsion to continue at pace and make the next fence. I for one am hugely interested to see how this is received by the various combinations on the day.
A fence which has been truly inspired by life in the countryside and old fashioned cross country riding.
The set up on the lake is always a spectacular one. This year, Eric has created something slightly different although still incorporating the iconic red Mitsubishi pick-ups into his design. It is nice to refresh things every now and again and to see this in action, compared to what we are familiar with on the lake front will be interesting.
2019 is Mitsubishi's final year sponsoring the event and there is much anticipation and speculation about who will follow in their footsteps, it certainly is mighty boots to fill. What will happen to the glorious Mitsubishi Motors Trophy? It is a real piece of art, but who will take it home this year?
After a hugely interesting and enlightening course walk, we headed back to the house for a delicious sit down lunch and chance to warm up. I recalled someone saying last year, that the room we were in fact having lunch in was the room in which the first 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 fact huh?!
A light and delicious buffet style lunch was served and it was a great opportunity to make some new connections. The room truly was magnificent!
After lunch, it was time for me to head off to meet the wonderful Tara from Tara Punter PR just a short drive down the road. I just love networking and brain storming with like-minded entrepreneurs and girl bosses! It is such an inspiring and empowering thing.
With less than one month to go before the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, will you be attending? If so, what is your favourite thing about the event?
I love the all aspects of the sport, but I do absolutely adore the atmosphere at the event. For me, it kicks off the Summer and I cannot wait! I'll be there, not too sure which day yet but I will know sooner to the time dependent on what is going on in my little world. I hope to see some of you there too!
Until next time...
Lots of love,