The first new cross-country course designer at Badminton for 25 years has unveiled his track ahead of the world’s oldest horse trials there on May 7-11. Guiseppe della Chiesa, an Italian, is taking on this most British of institutions and, although his methodology might be more sophisticated than the original 1949 course plan laid out on the top of a grand piano, some observers are describing his efforts as a flashback to the natural-looking-and rider frightening- tracks of yesteryear.

Dr della Chiesa has used some different ground in the Duke of Beaufort’s Gloucestershire parkland, revamping the famous Vicarage Vee and creating a new water fence. Six-times winner Lucinda Green approves, describing the course as ‘magnificent’ and as having ‘a different character’.

Leading riders from 11 nations-including Sir Mark Todd and world number one Andrew Nicholson from New Zealand, plus Britain’s William Fox-Pitt, Mary King and Pippa Funnell-will be competing for the £85,000 Mitsubishi Motors Trophy. The box office closes on April 28, but gate admission is available (01454 218272; www.badminton-horse.co.uk).

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