Badminton beckons

EQUESTRIANISM
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The Independent Online
Andrew Nicholson will be first to go when the Badminton Three-Day Event begins in two weeks' time, with the handsome Mitsubishi Trophy on offer. Last of the 80 starters will be Mary Thomson on her 1992 winner, King William.

Hugh Thomas, director and course designer, believes his fences will reward "controlled aggressive riding". He would like the 30 obstacles to be tackled in a bold - but not a wild - way. Thomas has occasionally asked for extreme accuracy (notably at the very narrow arrowhead at fence 12, which comes immediately after jumping off a bank) but boldness will be the principal requirement.

Twelve of the obstacles are new, including the Mitsubishi "M" at fence six which is the first serious problem to be tackled. Riders have two choices. They can take two big corners on the left-hand route or they can jump a line of three fences on the right, which look just as difficult.

As always, there will be a classy international field. Among the home riders with two horses are Karen Dixon and Mary Thomson, both of whom were members of last year's winning British team at the World Equestrian Games. Last year's winning rider - New Zealand's dual Olympic champion, Mark Todd - also has two horses, as does Bruce Davidson of the United States, who has twice won the world title but never Badminton.

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