Britain’s sole 5* horse trials shaping up to be a “historic event”

Bubby Upton pictured on Cola III during the CCI4*-L u25 class at Bicton in June.
Bubby Upton pictured on Cola III during the CCI4*-L u25 class at Bicton in June.

A five-star international horse trials competition scheduled to take place in Britain in September will be the country’s only top-level three-day-event, following the cancellations of both Badminton and Burghley because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bicton Arena in Devon will host the CCI5*L event from September 2 to 5. It follows the running of Bicton’s first CCI4* in June, which prompted the Bicton team to apply to the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) to run a replacement CCI5*L as a one-off. The June fixture included three classes that were previously scheduled for Bramham.

International course-designer Captain Mark Phillips is creating a new cross-country track for the 5* in Bicton’s Grade l-listed parkland, the home of Lord and Lady Clinton. The course will be built by Adrian Ditcham.

The Chedington Bicton Park 5* Horse Trials will be an opportunity to see the highest level of competition in Britain country for the first time in two years. Thanks to sponsorship from Chedington Estate, a prize fund of €125,000 is on offer, and the event will be live-streamed by supporting sponsor The Eventing Channel.

Bicton Arena also has a new manager, with Andrew Fell taking over from Helen West, who has been appointed Chief Executive of British Eventing.

Fell said the Bicton team was thrilled to have been given the opportunity by the FEI to ensure Britain has a five-star competition. “It should be a great morale boost after so much disappointment.

“Bicton is already blessed with loyal supporters, great facilities and a stunning setting and we are now full steam ahead with our aim of producing a competition truly worthy of CCI5* status.”

West, who is also British Eventing’s advisor to Bicton Arena, described the five-star event as a “once in a lifetime opportunity for Bicton and the South West”.

“Following the success of the four-star event we put on earlier this year we know that we are ideally placed to make this a huge success.

“For me, this is a shining example of what can be achieved with a collaborative approach. This whole vision was fuelled by owners, riders and organisers alike who have worked tirelessly to get this off the ground. The recognition of this achievement comes at an important time for me as I step into my new British Eventing role,” West said.

“It is fantastic for the sport as a whole and I look forward to exciting times ahead.”

Chedington Estate’s Dr Geoffrey Guy said Chedington was pleased to be part of what will be a historic event. “We have always felt that Bicton is a wonderful site that deserves to host a high level of international competition.”

Spectator tickets will be available shortly.

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