Every May the great and good tumble into their 4x4s alongside lurchers, sun-cream and umbrellas and head for Badminton House, in the heart of Gloucestershire. For three days a year its crown is stolen by some of the most talented riders and athletic horses in the country, as the theatre of a thrilling three-day event unfolds in front of its grand façade. The deer are swapped for a different four-legged animal, ice-cream vans take up position and beer kegs are rigged up ready for action as armies of Ag Col students descend in gilets & Dubarrys.
Battling through townies clad in patterned wellies and young girls in pink joddies, the cool crowd made straight for the Mucky Pheasant, which landed stylishly next to the Jack Wills Garden at Fence 9 ready for a bit of sport. The Pubs on Wheels vintage military creation for Jack Wills was a dead hit immediately, and Badminton’s finest birds swooped in ready for action donned in anything Kate Midd’s been snapped in over the last 5 years. Its well-stocked bar, chilled pints and fruity Pimm’s sucked discerning drinkers in from all over the park, and barely a single course-walker (with the driest of intentions) was able to resist the Pheasant’s plucky charm for a quick tipple (or five).
The ground game was strong and soon a crowd of leggy, handsome and charming individuals assembled alongside their owners who were gasping for something a little stronger than a bowl of water. As the sun shone, Pimm’s flowed, G&Ts were sunk and pints were pulled as revellers cheered on riders as they flew over the huge white spreads of the Jack Wills Garden. Luckily it was all thrills with few spills (booze not included), with the unfortunate exception of dazzling Italian rider Vittoria Pannizon & cross-country machine Borough Pennyz, who crashed out of the competition with a very uncharacteristic fall. Thankfully both walked away unhurt, a sigh of relief swept through the bar and Schoffel pockets were raided once more for a nerve-settling pint.
Throughout the day a glamorous gallery of bright young things infiltrated all social media channels, thanks to the super speedy WIFI, which enabled users not to miss out on a single all-important ‘like’. Sunshine and Wayfarers were the order of the day, until the afternoon when the heavens opened and the crowds were given a brief drenching, doing little to dampen the feathers of the Mucky Pheasant, far from! Spectators dived into the sanctuary of the camouflage canopy, the music was turned up and many a drink was bought and new friend made. Oh and it got Tatler’s stamp of approval too: http://www.tatler.com/news/articles/may-2016/jack-wills-seasonnaire-badminton-horse-trials?