Badminton Cross-Country Footing Will Be Safe, Course Designer Says

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Zara Phillips, above, has decided to remain in contention at the Badminton Horse Trials. The weather in Britain this spring has been exceptionally hot and dry, apparently, and the normally forgiving footing on tomorrow's cross-country course is very hard. Zara hopes to qualify for the British eventing team for the 2008 Olympics in Hong Kong...but not at the expense of her horse, Toytown. Photo by Kit Houghton, courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors and Badminton Horse Trials.


From the world-famous Badminton Horse Trials in Gloucestershire, England:

Over the last two days concerns about the condition of the ground and firmness of the going have caused riders to worry about the possible effects on their horses.

"We could not begin to do the remedial work until we were sure it was not going to rain and we have started this morning," said Director and Course Designer Hugh Thomas yesterday. "It won't be perfect but I think we will produce ground that is acceptable."

While the team of groundsmen have been working on the course they are presently setting to work to make the conditions the best they can.

"There was a riders meeting at lunchtime and they requested that every part of the course was treated and the management is happy to implement their requests," said Press Officer Julian Seaman. "Every part of the rideable course - where any horse might go, is currently being treated and the team of groundsmen will work though the night if that is what it takes. Riders will be walking the course late tonight and early tomorrow morning. The riders at this evening's press conference were very positive about their intentions to run their horses tomorrow."

Blogger's note: Leading rider William Fox-Pitt withdrew his horse from competition because he feared that the hard ground would be detrimental to his horse's soundness or that he might risk injury. Many of the riders entered in order to qualify for the 2008 Olympics in Hong Kong. However, too-hard or too-soft footing means that the risk of injury is increased, so riders were forced to make a choice between qualifying and possibly shortening their horses' careers.