Capt. Mark Phillips reveals his thoughts on the Chedington Bicton Park CCI5* course.
"Having just run the four-star in June, I was struggling to make this five-star Burghley replacement look very different. So although riders set off in a familiar direction the course is reversed for this inaugural Chedington Bicton Park 5* Horse Trials in Devon."
The Chedington Flowerbed gets the competitors underway before making the first of several climbs up to the Clippersharp Log Table (2).
The first question comes early on course at the EHOA Dewpond (5). "Positive riding is required as the brushes are quite daunting on the angle with the water in between. Horses then climb again to the Chedington Oxer Triple Bar Combination (6). There is time for horses to catch their breath at the top of the hill before the first 2 metre top spread, 4 strides to the next Oxer and then 3 strides to the skinny Triple Bar.
If riders didn’t understand that they were now at a five-star, they will as they come down the hill to the Voltaire Brush (7) before a quick turn to the Berenberg Blue Cabin (8) at the top of the Derby Bank."
With the terrain at Bicton Park providing a number of undulations there is a steep descent down to the Top Spec Corners at (9) which will require both control and accuracy. "Anyone a little out of control might think of doing a circle before attempting a left corner, 4 or 5 strides to a right corner, both very missable!
After a period of intensity the riders head out to the Bicton Park Gardens loop for a series if relative 'let up' fences before heading back to the Main Arena. Here the Clinton Devon Estates Cliffhanger (14) awaits them. Capt. Phillips has created a true 5* question that requires control and accuracy. "Firstly to jump the frangible rail clear, down the big drop and then 3 or 4 strides to the massive Triple Brush at the bottom. There is though an alternative for the feint hearted."
Accuracy and bravery is needed all round this new track, that builds on the success of the 4* earlier this year. "All will have their heart in their mouth as they descend to the Ariat Challenge (16). Again they have to jump the frangible rails clear before bouncing over the ditch and then bouncing again to the 1.45m arrowhead brush."
Not often a course designer advises riders to be "wearing their five-star pants", but brave pants are certainly needed in abundance. At the top of yet another hill lies The Burghley Brushes (19), four consecutive Triple Brushes, something no rider will have ever seen before.
Not just about bravery, control and accuracy, riders will need to use their brains and plot the routes most suited to their horses through a variety of fences. "Riders just need to take their time here over a not so easy piece of ground before galloping back to the NFU Water (22). Riders will ponder long and hard here but may well opt for the slightly slower bending lines as 3 of the 4 brushes are very missable."
With more variable terrain on this five-star course than any other in the world some fences are more forgiving than we would possibly expect to find in a 5*, and there is less intensity than say Badminton or Burghley. However, the overall examination is very much five-star and will produce a worthy champion that Burghley, Bicton and the sport, can be proud of.
Tickets are now available via www.bicton-arena.co.uk with Weekend Passes for the Live-Stream going on sale shortly via www.horseandcountry.tv