Sidmouth’s Olympic event rider medallist Mary King dips a toe in Badminton Horse Trial’s formidable lake on the eve of the competition

PUBLISHED: 16:34 01 May 2018 | UPDATED: 16:34 01 May 2018

Mary King and her daughter,  Emily,  signing autographs at 2017 Badminton Horse Trials

Mary King and her daughter, Emily, signing autographs at 2017 Badminton Horse Trials

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Sidmouth’s Olympic three-day event hero Mary King has given an insight into the 2018 Badminton Horse Trials formidable cross country course on the eve of the competition’s start.

Mitsubishi Motors Badminton horse trials 

course designer Eric WinterMitsubishi Motors Badminton horse trials course designer Eric Winter

Mary, of Salcombe Regis, who has represented Great Britain at six Olympic Games since 1992, and twice lifted the Badminton Mitsubishi Motors trophy, this week joined Badminton Horse Trials cross country course designer Eric Winter around the premier track.

A brand ambassador for Mitsubishi, mum-of-two Mary gave her views on a firm favourite with the crowds – the Lake; a massive log, with a brush in the water with a sharp right turn to a narrow brush up the slope.

She said the long gallop up the side of the fence before a dog leg turn to a big smooth profile log would ‘encourage the horses and riders to be brave’.

Mary said the ‘tricky’ part was the final element, with its sharp curve to the right.

Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials 2018Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials 2018

“It’s quite a decent drop into the lake,” she said. “A good jump in and you travel on a pretty straight line to a narrow brush fence in the water, so you jump from water to water and then the really tricky part is the c-element.

“It walks a three-stride distance - a sharp curve to the right; very easy to have a glance off and maybe a lot of riders will sit up and decide to hold for the four strides and make a little bit more of a dog leg turn to avoid having the dreaded twenty penalties.”

Eric Winter, now in his second year as course designer, and a rider at the top-class event in 1991, has followed tradition and reversed the direction of the ‘rustically impressive’ cross country course, which is made up of 32 fences to challenge both horse and rider.

The four-mile course starts and finishes in the main arena; along the route horses and riders are put to the ultimate test over an undulating course of solid man-made and natural obstacles designed to test accuracy, control, stamina and skill – all within a set time.

During her course walk with Eric, Mary stopped off at the Joules corners – six fences from home, the wide brush fences are a test of accuracy and control to find out whether horses are still focussed on the job.

Mary said: “They are as impressive as ever. There are three elements. The first element is a big hedge oxer. The B-element is the first of the massive corners. You then curve around to the right and jump a fantastic wide corner by the white flag.

“They are really impressive and definitely testing the horses’ scope and trust and ability to stay on a line.”

Badminton Horse Trials, Wednesday May 2 – Sunday, May 6, 2018, is described internationally as one of ‘the toughest and most exciting equestrian events’.

Horses and riders complete the competition over three days, each day consisting of a different discipline or phase; a dressage test demonstrating obedience, discipline, accuracy and elegance; the four-mile cross country jumping challenge, and a final day of show jumps, designed to test agility and accuracy at speed.

Badminton Horse Trials, Wednesday May 2 – Sunday, May 6, 2018. For more information and for admission details, see www.badminton-horse.co.uk

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