Well what a year it has been! One of our most exciting events in glorious sunshine, a fitting celebration of Mitsubishi Motors 25 years with us; The Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing at last won again by the incomparable Michael Jung, who went on to retain his Olympic title; Our 2016 Charity World Horse Welfare raising close to £100,000 from their Badminton link; winning Best Event of the year in L’Annee Hippique poll; and above all remembering the smiles on our visitors’ faces as they enjoyed the sport, the shopping, the food and drink – in fact the Badminton experience.
It will not be easy to match 2016, but we have plans to try! I am very excited by Eric Winter’s ideas for the cross country course; Giuseppe did a fantastic job for us and Eric is definitely going to put his own stamp on the course. Our trade stand applications have recently closed and we have had the lowest drop out rate for many years, but have found several new exhibitors with something new to offer.
The modernisation and digitisation of the Badminton experience continues, with a new high speed fibre broadband line going into the Park as I write. We will tread carefully, but we expect to be able to offer at least some public connectivity in May in addition to serving our exhibitors, media etc with the best possible connectivity.
After Yogi Breisner’s brilliant steering of the British Team over 16 years it will be fascinating to see how, or if, Dickie Waygood and Chris Bartle change tack – we are proud to have a former Badminton Champion at the helm of the British effort towards the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. However, one of the greatest changes here over the 68 years of Badminton’s existence has been its transformation into a truly international event with the top riders from all over the world – we are proud to welcome competitors objectively allowed to compete purely on the basis of their very recent performances and, while the Olympic, World and Continental Championships will always remain the focus for teams and their National Federations, the great 4 star events, especially the Rolex Grand Slam events, are the peak of most riders’ aspirations as individuals.
The atmosphere among the Badminton team is optimistic and hugely looking forward to 2017 – after what is always a great Christmas lunch at The Old Ship in Luckington (pictured above).
Happy Christmas and New Year from all at Badminton.