The world famous Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials celebrates its 60th anniversary this year (May 7-10) and will have a new addition to commemorate this benchmark.

The three-day event, staged each year at the Duke of Beaufort’s Gloucestershire park, started in 1949 to provide a springboard for future British Olympic teams.

It has since become the most prestigious event of its type, and the one all riders dream of winning.

In these uncertain financial times Badminton is delighted to have the extended support of long time sponsors Mitsubishi Motors until at least 2012, which will allow them to continue the intensive course maintenance programme.

Badminton is also very happy to be linked to two other big prize innovations in the sport.

The Rolex Grand Slam, which incorporates Badminton, Kentucky and Burghley three-day events on a rolling winner takes all basis and has been won once by Pippa Funnell, is now well established.

The new incentive is the HSBC FEI Classics, which adds to the list results from the other northern hemisphere top grade events, Luhmühlen in Germany and the end of season four star at Pau in France.

This is an accumulator for riders and Badminton is a significant part of these innovative series.

Badminton director and course designer Hugh Thomas is following the long established tradition of reversing the direction of the course, which has, for several years now, started and finished in the main arena.

The Italian technical delegate Giuseppe della Chiesa, who officiated for the first time at Badminton in 2008, has already made a preliminary inspection of the embryonic course, under construction, as ever, by the local firm Willis Brothers (and Sons).

In some respects Badminton becomes even more important in a post Olympic year, as the non European riders have no international championship to aim at in the autumn and so are sure to see it as their number one target for the season.

The Badminton box office opened on January 12 and nowadays the great majority of bookings are made through the website at Those booking early get a discount against the on-the-day admission prices and access to the most favoured grandstand seats and pitches on the caravan site, which accommodated over 1,200 pitches last year.