61. World-class Eventing in the Cotswolds at Badminton and Gatcombe Park

Michael Owen riding The Highland Prince in the cross country at the 2014 Badminton Horse Trials. Picture © Mitsubishi Motors / Kit Houghton Olympic silver medallist William Fox-Pitt riding Parklane Hawk in the dressage at Badminton. Picture © Mitsubishi Motors / Kit Houghton Tens of thousands of equestrian fans converge on two venues in the southern Cotswolds each summer for two of the UK's premier eventing competitions.

The Badminton Horse Trials take place in April or May each year in the park of Badminton House, Gloucestershire, the seat of the Duke of Beaufort.

Badminton was first held in 1949 by the 10th Duke of Beaufort in order to let British riders train for future international events and was advertised as "the most important horse event in Britain". It was the second three-day event held in Britain, the first being its inspiration – the 1948 London Olympics.

Today's Badminton is held in a six square kilometre (1,500 acre) park,Oliver Towned riding Armada in the show jumping at Badminton. Picture © Mitsubishi Motors / Kit Houghton where the car parks, trade stands, arena and cross country courses are located.

Badminton House is now the family home of the 11th Duke of Beaufort who is president of the Horse Trials and was himself a very successful rider in the sport, being placed second at Badminton in 1959.
 
Over the years Badminton has been forced to cancel on several occasions for various reasons, including bad weather and foot and mouth disease.

The cross country day at Badminton attracts crowds of up to a quarter of a million, which are the largest for any paid-entry sport event in the UK, and the second largest in the world (after the Indianapolis 500).

Sampling the atmosphere of the Badminton Horse Trials for the first time in 2014 was 49-year-old Debbie Thompson from Malmesbury who described it as "a great day out".

"It was enjoyable whether you are passionate about horses or not," she said. "It was great for horse and people watching and there were great stands and good food and drink."

The Festival of British Eventing, held at Gatcombe Park over the first weekend of August, is another major equestrian event held in the Cotswolds each year.

Gatcombe Park is the private country home of The Princess Royal and her family and is situated between the Gloucestershire villages of Minchinhampton and Avening, five miles south of Stroud.

Organised by Mark Phillips with considerable input from Princess Anne, the event attracts the world's top Olympians and more than 40,000 paying spectators, as well as BBC television coverage.

The event incorporates the British Open, Intermediate and Novice Championships and as well as a weekend of top-class eventing, there is a shopping village, arena attractions and entertainment for all the family.

The estate also holds two smaller horse trials, in the spring and autumn, whose courses are designed by Anne, and a biannual craft fair with around 160 exhibitors takes place in May and October.


More information

Badminton Horse Trials
www.badminton-horse.co.uk
Gatcombe Park equestrian events
www.gatcombe-horse.co.uk

© Loving The Cotswolds. 2017.