WEST Littleton’s Harry Meade reckons that the excitement surrounding Badminton would be at fever pitch even if last year’s trials had not been rained off.

The 29-year-old, who is a member of the British Equestrian Federation's World Class Development Programme, will be going for glory with 16-year-old Wild Lone at this week’s trials.

Meade has a relative wealth of experience under his belt after competing at five Badmintons but says that the competition always serves up a fierce challenge for its competitors.

“He (Wild Lone) was supposed to go to Badminton last year but when it was off, we went to Luhmühlen instead,” said Meade.

“I understand why people might think that there’d be an extra buzz this year but because it’s Badminton, there’s always a huge thrill.

“I’ve done it a few times already and you do get more used to what it’s like to compete there and it doesn’t surprise you.

“But the course always changes so it’s not as if you can get used to going on the same route every time.

“I can’t say if we’ll finish near the top but I hope that he has a good chance of doing well this year.”

Sturgis set for return

BEANIE Sturgis is looking forward to making her first appearance at Badminton for five years.

The 39-year-old, whose base is in Great Somerford, is set to put 16-year-old gelding Lebowski through his paces in only his third-ever four-star outing.

Wiltshire eventer Sturgis had her last Badminton outing in 2008 on Monarch’s Rock and says that she’s chomping at the bit to return to one of the world’s top competitions.

“This will only be his third four-star competition - he completed at Pau in 2011 and at Burghley last year, we had an equipment problem when the stirrups broke,” said Sturgis.

“The dream for me is that Andrew Nicholson and William Fox-Pitt don’t win the Grand Slam because I’ve won it.

“But the reality is that (Lebowski’s) dressage might not be good enough.I ’m excited and if we could get a finish in the top 20, then that would be great.

“He’s 16 but he hasn’t had a lot of mileage as a horse because I had a few years out where I was having my children (Sid, aged four, and Ruby, three).”