Badminton Horse Trials

by Catriona Burt

The Badminton Horse Trials are often regarded as one of the greatest equestrian events. It is a four-star three-day event, one of only six held. Badminton was started in 1949 by the 10th Duke of Beaufort in order to let British riders train for future events. It has since grown and now forms part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing* along with the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event and the Burghley Horse Trials.

Bruce Davidson on Eagle Lion at Badminton in 1995. He won that year - the first American to do so!
©Lynn Labiniec


Badminton is held every year in late April/early May in Badminton Park, Gloucester in the United Kingdom. It is normally held from Thursday to Monday with the first day being taken up with the Mitsubishi Grassroots Trial; Friday and Saturday with dressage; Sunday with the ever popular cross country; and Monday with show jumping. The event is the second most popular sporting event on the planet with over 500,000 people attending the cross country day every year. The event itself is supported by other attractions and a huge trade fair, making it popular with both horsey and non-horsey people. Spectators and television viewers watch as over 100 competitors every year compete to win the coveted title.

The highlight of Badminton is the 29-jump cross country course which includes the iconic Mitsubishi L900's and the challenging lake. Various designers have turned their hands to creating the course over the years, and it is currently designed by Alan Willis and his sons, James and Tim. This challenging course brings out the best of the best! British equestrian Lucinda Green has won Badminton a record six times! Badminton is an addictive course; Andrew Nicholson has competed 31 times, and four horses have each completed in the trials seven times! When a rider completes the trials five times they are awarded an Armada Dish, which has been awarded every year since 1964 (with the exception of 2006).

Badminton is definitely worth taking a look at if you are interested in eventing. If you can't come and watch it directly then take a look at your local television schedules to see if you can watch the event!

*Fun fact! The only person to ever win the Rolex Grand Slam is Pippa Funnel.