Badminton to implement new safety measures

Hugh Thomas, director and course designer of next week's Mitsubishi Badminton Horse Trials, has wasted no time in implementing some of the recommendations put forward by the International Eventing Safety Committee.

These include the introduction of a new 10-minute halt on Phase C (the second section of roads and tracks) and a suggestion that this phase should not exceed 8.8 kilometres. Thomas had promised that once the report was published, Badminton would be "amongst the first to introduce its recommendations" - and he has been true to his word, even though the report did not come out until Wednesday.

A new route has been found for Phase C and the recommended "halt" will be located opposite the start of the steeplechase, Phase B. This means that grooms and supporters will be on hand to administer to the horses when they arrive there.

Such changes would have been irrelevant if persistent rumours that the event had been cancelled had proved to be accurate. Yesterday, however, the ground was said to be drying out and, thanks to an excellent weather forecast, it is expected to go ahead as scheduled next Thursday.

The Safety Committee, chaired by Lord Hartington, was formed after the five rider fatalities which took place in England in 1999. Last month there were two deaths in Australia and one in Switzerland, which has given new urgency to the findings of the committee, which included the former racing driver Jackie Stewart.

Other recommendations include a mandatory passport system for all riders, the promotion of "specific cross-country riding education", the introduction of rules to define reckless riding and disciplinary procedures for any rider found guilty of recklessness.

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