This year the Club trialled a new format for the Badminton Cup, which has worked well at Plett in South Africa. It incorporated changes to the line out and reducing the time of chukkas to 4.30 minutes, with a total of 6 chukkas. This allows for players to play more ponies that may not be fit enough for 7 minute chukkas and save the ground at the start of the Season.
The Badminton Cup started in a blaze of sunshine on the hottest May Bank Holiday on record. As the spectators basked in the rays, it was Strategic Help for Heros who charged to a decisive lead of 7 goals to 2 1/2 against Shibumi. The following league match was very close with Strategic only just managing to keep Tomlinson Equine at bay with a 6 – 5 win, despite an impressive performance from Emma Boers. Hascombe Stud had a successful 9 – 7 ½ win against Shibumi, but then lost narrowly to Tomlinson Equine 6 – 7, making the scores so tight it was not clear going into the weekend who would be victorious.
In the final league matches, Strategic Help for Heroes were to play Hascombe stud which would potentially produce the tournament winner. When one team scored, the other replied in kind and it was neck and neck all throughout the first 4 chukkas. However, Hascombe Stud were not prepared to back down and lifted the trophy on the Saturday, overcoming Strategic Help for Heroes by 8 goals to 6.
On Sunday, it was another close match to decide the remaining placings, which saw only a half a goal in it between Shibumi and Tomlinson Equine from the 1st to 4th chukkas. In the 5th chukka Mark Baldwin gained command of the ball and raced it towards the goal, but Tamara Fox quickly stole it back to give Tomlinson Equine the advantage. Despite Baldwin getting the ball back under Shibumi’s control, it unfortunately popped over the boards on more than one occasion and under the new rules this allowed a free hit to the opposition, which Tomlinson Equine wasted no time in converting to goals. This allowed them to storm ahead to a 5 – 2 ½ win and pushing them to 2nd in the tournament ahead of Strategic Help for Heroes 3rd and Shibumi finally in 4th.
The new format was generally well received, with the horses benefiting with the shorter chukkas in the May heat. Thanks go to Peter Baldwin, from Baldwin Construction who kindly provided prizes for the Tournament.