The many changes being introduced at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials this year will most certainly mean the Box Office staff being inundated with early applications when the Office opens for business on Monday, January 8th.
One of the new features for Badminton 2001 will be, for the first time the cross country course starting and finishing in the arena and it is here, too, the final fence will be positioned.
Another important innovation being introduced by the Director, Hugh Thomas, is a Badminton Members' Club adjacent to the main arena where, for a modest daily charge, spectators will be able to have a meal or a snack in some degree of comfort in a ringside marquee with its own toilets and closed circuit television. The Badminton Members' Club replaces the marquee previously exclusively reserved for British Horse Society and British Horse Trials Association members.
The Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials take place from May 3-6 when another major innovation will allow spectators on both the Thursday and Friday to watch the Dressage competition from unreserved grandstand seats entirely free, apart from those seats with headphones or situated close to the centre line, essential for aficionados - there remains a charge for these reserved seats.
The idea behind the free grandstand seats, says Hugh Thomas, is that it will encourage more people to watch the tests from time to time without having to purchase a seat for the whole day.
While it is far too early to give the names of individual riders who will be taking part, it can be confidently expected that members of Britain's Sydney silver-medal winning team as well as overseas Olympians will be competing.
Many will, no doubt, be attracted by the record amount of prize money on offer. Badminton continues to lead the way in the sport with the £150,000 barrier being broken. Last year the total was £135,000, next May the winner will receive a prize of £35,000 (an increase of £5,000), together with the handsome, silver Mitsubishi Motors Trophy.
Each year, Badminton selects a charity and it is only fitting that this year it will be the Red Cross which will benefit from fund-raising. The Red Cross has been associated with Badminton and has done so much for the sport over very many years.
These major changes and the urgent need to obtain advance tickets and admission to the new Members' Club will certainly be occupying the Box Office staff from the outset.
The postal address of the Box Office is: Box Office, Badminton Horse Trials, Badminton, Glos. Gl9 1DF; telephone number; +44(0)1454 218 375; fax number; +44(0)1454 218 702; e-mail; firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information please visit the Badminton Horse Trials website, www.badminton-horse.co.uk