Sports Listings: Plan Ahead - Badminton Horse Trials

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SIX previous winners of the Badminton Horse Trials have entered this year, including Mary Thomson, who won last year for the first time, beating Virginia Leng, the victor in 1985 and 1989. Blyth Tait has not won the event, which runs from 6 to 9 May, but the world champion from New Zealand completes a top-class line- up of equestrian talent.

The cross-country day on Saturday attracts the largest crowd of the event. Spectators can walk all or part of the 4 1/2 -mile course on the Duke of Beaufort's estate and there are several viewing points. However, for a closer inspection of the fences, the visitor needs to walk the course on the Friday, when the riders do so.

One way of avoiding the worst of the traffic on cross-country day is to arrive before 9am and have breakfast on the show ground. The trade stands can keep visitors occupied until competition starts. On Sunday, only the cheapest seats are available for the show jumping, but the proceedings can be viewed from a large screen.

There is no public transport to the horse trials. The nearest railway stations are Bath, Bristol or Chippenham and then by taxi, which can be costly. For travel from London, Verity Collins provides a return coach service on the Saturday from Victoria, including admission, for pounds 30 per person. If there is sufficient interest, she can arrange a fully-insured private car service for the other days.

Badminton will also provide a list of hotel and bed and breakfast accommodation for those who wish to stay in the area for the weekend. Send a large stamped addressed envelope.

Badminton Horse Trials, Badminton, Avon, 6-9 May.

Duke of Beaufort's estate is 4 1/2 miles north-east of junction 18 on M4.

Admission: Thursday and Friday: (Dressage) vehicle and up to eight occupants pounds 12; Saturday (Cross Country) pounds 25; Sunday (Show Jumping) pounds 12. Season ticket pounds 44. Grandstands: seats at all prices, pounds 4 to pounds 16 available on Thursday, but pounds 10 and pounds 16 have sold out on Friday. For Sunday's show jumping, only pounds 5 and pounds 6 seats available. Box Office, Badminton Horse Trials Office, Badminton, Avon GL9 1DF. The box office (9am-5pm) is open today from 9am-1pm and will reopen on Tuesday. (Tel: 0454 218375/218732).

For further details of coach / private car from London, contact Mrs Verity Collins: 071 351 4434.