The F&I Badminton XC Course walk with Nick Turner, kindly organised by Ann Bostock, report written by Charlotte Tarrant BHS Stage 5 Performance Coach.
This year the XC at Badminton ran in reverse to last year however it still started in the main arena with the traditional flower box. It’s not a challenging fence but horses and riders must stay focussed. As the horse and riders exited the arena they went left, through the collecting arena and across the road to fence 2, the “Rolex Feeder” which was a decent sheep feeder. This is where the group met Nick where he explained that the ground has been wet and as it dries at Badminton it becomes tacky and holding so riders seeing long strides might find their horses do not jump out. We were then off and were hot footing it across the course!
We went past fence 3, “Horsequest Hump” and walked straight to fence 4ab, “Horsequest Quarry” here we paused for Nick to explain the fences. At fence 3 which is a new jump at Badminton the combinations are given a bit of a wake-up to help them set up for things to come. It was a mound with a lovely tree on the top and a bold forward approach was needed. Fence 4a was over the upright wall which dropped down into the quarry followed by a turn left and up the steep incline over another upright wall for 4b. Nick liked this as it was a confidence building combination. The striding wouldn’t be a problem as horses jump so well off the rising ground.
Off we went again to fence 5 the “Rolex Grand Slam Skinny”. This fence could be ridden with various approaches, but Nick suggested hugging the rails around the tree and jumping the jump (a narrow-curved brush with a ditch in front) on the angle – easy!
Fence 6abc, the “Irish Sport Horse Huntsman Close” here we had a look from both sides to see just how acute the angles were for these tree trunks. To get to Huntsman’s close there was a bit of a run down from the previous fence, here Nick said riders would need to set up to break their speed and jump “A” on the angle to help take time to jump “B” and “C” the real acute angled logs on two strides. There were options here, but Nick said these would take seven hours to do however he could see it causing issues later on.
We very quickly marched off and passed fence 7 on the way to fence 8 to get ahead of the enormous group that were on William Fox-Pitt’s walk. Fence 7 the “Traders Table” was a BIG table, Nick said this was a decent 4* fence and that it has a bit of a kink in it and a downhill approach, so riders need to get horses heads up!
Fence 8, the “Wadworths Water” was a hanging log on the angle over water. Here we were told that as you come up the hill it is smaller than you think but anything that’s a little cautious here you should kick on. It sets the tone for things to come next at the lake and that a left of centre approach was best.
On landing into the lake riders would come out and canter around the edge to the main water complex at the lake, fence 9abc.
9a was a decent log dropping into the lake, Nick said riders will have to ride positively on a ¾ turn in to help keep the hind leg underneath the horse. Recover on landing from “A” get the engine going, five strides and pop the brush in the water for “B” then 3 to 4 strides to an acute angled skinny house for “C” which was up the bank out of the water. Nick emphasized that is the plan, but riders should expect anything, and you always go for “plan a” unless you feel it isn’t right and then you take the options. Always ride the line and power rather than stride and if you can keep them connected you’ll be fine. From landing over element “C” riders curved right and headed towards fence 10, the “Mitsubishi L200’s” these aren’t difficult but need concentration.
Riders then go back along the lake and must set up a left turn and over the “world Horse Welfare Gates” for fence 11. In Eric Winters report he says, “if they can’t jump a 1.20m vertical at any place on the course than they aren’t a 4* horse”.
Horses and riders then head up the incline past Badminton house towards fence 12 “Formulate! White Oxers” here there are two to chose from, Nick said jumping the one that comes up a bit earlier on the right would offer a better jump as horses can read them.We continued our march along the course to fence 13 the “Stick Pile” this jump in itself is lovely however nick said it is in the wettest part of the course so if riders see a long stride they may not make it out of the ground. On landing the ground gently slopes away down towards fences 14-16 inclusive, the “Outlander PHEV Mound”.