The Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, which celebrates its 60th anniversary next month (May 7-10), has signed a three-year contract with the BBC which has pledged to cover it in 2010-12, provided the event finishes on a Bank Holiday Monday.
 
The terms of the contract mean that Badminton will break with tradition, running from Friday to Monday over the first May Bank Holiday weekend, instead of Thursday to Sunday.
 
This means that television coverage can be guaranteed over what is often a busy weekend of clashing major sporting events for the BBC. There will be live ‘red button’ coverage of Sunday’s cross-country phase and live coverage of the final show jumping denouement, with cross-country highlights, on BBC 2 on Monday.
 
The dates for the next three years at Badminton have been set for April 30-May 3, 2010; April 29-May 2, 2011; and May 4-7, 2012.
 
Michael Cole, editor of equestrian sports for BBC Television, said: ‘We are delighted to be able to bring Badminton to BBC viewers for another three years. As we build towards the 2012 Olympics, it’s great to be able to cover the world’s best riders at the sport’s most famous event.’
 
Badminton began in 1949; BBC coverage started in 1956 and has continued ever since.
 
Leading British riders entered for this year’s Badminton include the reigning World Champion Zara Phillips, who has entered her gold medal horse Toytown and Ardfield Magic Star, plus former winners Mary King (Apache Sauce), William Fox-Pitt (Idalgo and Macchiato) and Rodney Powell (Zin Zan ll), Olympic bronze medallist Daisy Dick (Spring Along), last year’s runner-up Lucy Wiegersma (Shaabrak) and European team gold medallist Oli Townend (Flint Curtis).
 
The strongest overseas challenge comes from British-based New Zealander Andrew Nicholson, who has been competing at Badminton for 25 years and who has completed more times than any other rider (26). He has an excellent chance on both the part-Irish Draft Henry Tankerville and the Spanish-bred Armada.

To comment on this article, use the comment box below, or email us at clonews@ipcmedia.com. Read more about the countryside.