An all-star entry list featuring world champions and London 2012 Olympians heads up the field for the 2013 Badminton Horse Trials, one of equestrian sport’s showpiece events.
BBC Sport will have all the key action from the final two days of the 2013 event, fronted by Clare Balding, including live coverage of the closing cross country and jumping disciplines.
Staged on the grounds of the famous Badminton House in Gloucestershire, the world’s top event riders will vie for the fiercely contested Rolex Grand Slam.
2012 was undoubtedly the highlight for a whole generation of people involved in Eventing, with the Olympics at home in London for the first time in the 64 years since Badminton was founded in the aftermath of the 1948 Games.
London, and Greenwich, were a huge success on virtually every front, providing a fantastic spectacle and the scene of huge public participation and enjoyment, brilliant organisation, volunteer enthusiasm and medals won for the host nation.
This year reverts to some form of normality, but basking in the glow of the Olympics, there will be heightened interest in both elite sport and participation in sport.
A raft of Olympic team medallists will have the chance to show off their cross-country skills over the four-star course.
Twelve months ago, it would have formed a pre-Olympic test – now Badminton’s challenging course will give the world’s top event riders the chance to show off their cross-country skills.
With a host of top riders taking part, plus the chance to see the Rolex Grand Slam won for only the second time in history, it looks set to be a vintage year in the history of this famous event.
The course will run left handed with “clusters of action and long gallops in between”, according to a statement from the organisers
Since the event was cancelled in 2012, the course has remained pretty much the same aside from a few small alterations and updates.
Three of the world’s greatest event riders – Michael Jung (Germany), William Fox-Pitt (Great Britain), and Andrew Nicholson (New Zealand) – will lead the star-studded line-up at this year’s event.
Jung is the reigning Olympic, World and European champion and notwithstanding his extraordinary record, 2013 will be his first-ever appearance at Badminton.
He will be accompanied by three of his four fellow German team gold medallists from last year’s Olympics.
The whole of the British silver medal-winning team is intending to take part, including Zara Phillips aboard High Kingdom.
Seven previous winners of the world’s premier event include reigning champion Mark Todd, Lucinda Fredericks and Paul Tapner from Australia, plus Mary King, Oliver Townend, Pippa Funnell – the only winner of the Rolex Grand Slam to date – and of course William Fox Pitt, all from Great Britain, will also be in action.
Fox-Pitt has five horses to choose from in his attempt to claim the coveted Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing accolade.
He will be aiming to add the 2013 Badminton title to his wins at the 2011 Burghley Horse Trials and the 2012 Kentucky Three-Day Event.
Andrew Nicholson, the man with by far the most Badminton completions to his name, but without a win, was on a roll at the end of 2012 with victories at the FEI Classics at Burghley and Pau.
HRH The Duchess of Cornwall is due to present the main prizes following the jumping phase of the competition on Bank Holiday Monday.
For Badminton a post Olympic year often brings the highest class field of horses and riders of all, with no thought of ‘saving’ horses for the autumn.
Riders from vast array of nation will be focusing on this event and all will aspire to claim the fabulous Mitsubishi Motors Trophy as their major target for the year.
BBC Sport will broadcast extensive television coverage of the 2013 Badminton Horse Trials from Gloucestershire.
The live action begins on Sunday, May 5, with full coverage of the cross country test from 11.50am on BBC Red Button and online via the BBC Sport website.
On Bank Holiday Monday, Clare Balding presents a special two-hour programme on BBC Two and BBC Two HD from 12.30pm, featuring highlights of the cross country action, then live coverage of the finale to the event – the jumping test.
Michael Tucker leads the commentary team during the BBC’s coverage of the final two days of competition.
The BBC will screen Badminton until at least 2016 after signing a new four-year broadcast deal with the event organisers last October.
In a seperate move, the event will revert to a Thursday to Sunday schedule from 2014 onwards and also move to the weekend after the May Bank Holiday.
Hugh Thomas, Director of Badminton said, “We are of course very pleased to continue our unbroken coverage with the BBC, the national broadcaster.
“There is always a knock on effect when big sporting dates change, but equestrian enthusiasts and our many exhibitors will be happy that the Royal Windsor Horse Show has also moved one week later so there will be no clash.
“We will also avoid any future clashes with the Kentucky 4 Star Event and our loyal spectators will be thrilled to revert to a Sunday finish.”
Barbara Slater, Director of BBC Sport, said: “We’re delighted to extend our deal with the prestigious Badminton Horse Trials through to 2016, taking coverage of the sport through on into the Rio Olympic year.
“Badminton has been covered on TV by the BBC since 1956, we’re pleased to be able to continue this and have the opportunity to give it the scheduling that it deserves.”
Horse & Country TV will also have selected coverage of the event (Sky channel 280), including preview and highlights shows, as well as exclusive behind-the-scenes features and content.
Two weeks after the event on Thursday, May 16 at 8pm, Horse & Country TV will premiere a one-hour Badminton highlights show featuring key action from this year’s competition.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE HORSES & RIDERS RUNNING ORDER Sunday 5th May Day 4 – Cross Country Test LIVE: 12.20pm-5.45pm – BBC Red Button / BBC Sport Website (Coverage begins online via BBC Sport website from 11.50am) Monday 6th May Day 5 – Jumping Test LIVE: 12.30pm-2.30pm – BBC Two (Includes Cross Country Highlights) Thursday 16th May Badminton Highlights 8.00pm-9.00pm – Horse & Country TV