Badminton Horse Trials


One of the toughest and most exciting equestrian events, with horses and riders completing the competition over 5 days and consisting of a different discipline or phase each day. The event is classified as a Concours Complet International Five Star Event by the Fédération Équestre Internationale and has been held annually each spring for over 70 years.

Inaugurated in 1949 at Badminton House by the 10th Duke of Beaufort, and continued to today with the 12th Duke of Beaufort, Harry Somerset, at the helm.

Badminton 2021 will be held from Wednesday 5th - Sunday 9th May. Currently, due to government guidelines/restrictions, it has been decided the Badminton Horse Trials 2021 will run 'Behind Closed Doors' with live, online viewing and the potential to include a limited number of spectators.

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Badminton Horse Trials

 🛣️Car journey time from London:

2.5hr - 110 miles / 177 km

🛏️Recommended accommodation:

Whatley Manor

The Royal Crescent

Lucknam Park

💐Other English Season experiences:

Royal Ascot

The Boodles

Wimbledon

Henley Festival

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The History of Badminton

The House and Estate

The Dukedom of Beaufort was created in 1682, granted to Henry the 3rd Marquess of Worcester in reward for his service to the Stuart Monarchy. The 1st Duke of Beaufort retrieved the family fortunes, which had suffered badly in the civil wars, and made Badminton his home, appearing to have been his own architect. The house dates from the 17th and 18th century, with around £30,000 being spent over 30 years on Badminton – a huge expenditure for the period, producing the house as we see it today and the park modelled by William Kent and Capability Brown. 

Badminton House is now the family home of the 12th Duke of Beaufort, Harry Somerset, who has always taken an active role in the Badminton Horse Trials. His Grace’s father, David, who passed away in August 2017, was President of the Horse Trials and a very successful rider in the sport himself – being placed second at Badminton in 1959. 

Anecdotes from the Archives

The 10th Duke of Beaufort devised the idea to hold an event in his Gloucestershire park, in order for British riders to train for future international events, such as the Olympics. At the time, the Duke was the Master of the Horse for the Royal Family. The first event was held in 1949, with £150 awarded to the winner and a total of about £500 prize money in total. In 2018, the first place winner took home £100,000 and the overall prize fund was £360,750!

In 1955, the Trials were moved to Windsor for one year at the invitation of The Queen, to hold the 2nd European Champions. The first European Championships were staged at Badminton in 1953.

Bad weather has forced the cancellation of the Trials on four occasions – in 1966, 1975, 1987 and 2012. The terrible weather of 1962/3 which continued into the spring, forced Badminton to down-grade to a one day event. Foot and Mouth disease caused the cancellation of the 2001 Event, and the worldwide coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 event.