EVENT director Hugh Thomas is confident this year's Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials will not be claimed by poor weather that has ravaged the eventing season.

The season's opening six weeks were hit hard by competitions nationwide being cancelled.

Ten scheduled events this month have so far been postponed due to wet conditions, playing havoc in some cases with rider preparations for Badminton, which starts on May 3 and carries a £360,000 total prize fund.

Badminton has only been postponed once in the last 30 years, and it is all systems go for world eventing's flagship four-star event.

"It has been very tricky," Thomas said. "It has been one of the wettest second halves of a winter.

"Any event organiser who tells you he has no concerns with the weather is either a liar or a fool! I hope I am neither!

"It has been difficult, but we are very careful with what we do in order to preserve the ground in the best possible state.

"It dries very quickly here when we get some decent weather, and as long as we do get some decent weather, I am confident all will be well."

Many of the Badminton field will be hoping for a run at this week's Belton Horse Trials in Lincolnshire.

Entries include defending Badminton champions Andrew Nicholson and Nereo, based in Marlborough, the 2017 Burghley-winning combination of Oliver Townend and Ballaghnmor Class, plus Britain's current world number three Gemma Tattersall with both her entered Badminton rides Arctic Soul and Pamero 4.

In a general observation, Thomas added: "I think the riders are much more worried about their pre-runs than they need to be, if truth be told, particularly for the more experienced horses.

"A few years ago, we had a really bad Spring and a lot of pre-Badminton events were cancelled, and the horses seemed to go just as well as ever and it wasn't really a problem.

"Although I quite see that if you have got a new combination coming to Badminton for the first time, it would be quite nice to have a bit more confidence from a couple of runs."

Riders from 12 countries, including Germany's reigning Olympic champion and world number one Michael Jung, will contest the £100,000 top prize over four days of dressage, cross-country and showjumping.

Townend, meanwhile, is joined by two team-mates from Great Britain's European gold medal-winning quartet in Poland last September - Tina Cook and Rosalind Canter - with three other past Badminton winners accompanying Nicholson, Townend and Jung in Badgerstown-based Mark Todd, Sam Griffiths and Paul Tapner, based in Highworth.

Six of the world's top 10-ranked riders are among the challengers with course designer Eric Winter's cross-country track set to be pivotal in terms of shaping final finishing positions.

"It is another top-drawer field," Thomas said.

"It is great to see Andrew Nicholson and Nereo back to defend the title, and the Brits got back on top of the tree last year by winning the European Championship, which they hadn't done for some time.

"I think they have been reinvigorated with Chris Bartle and Richard Waygood heading the (coaching and management) team."