Following the cancellation of Rockingham International Horse Trials, set to run in May, the organising teams at Little Downham (Cambs.) and Tweseldown (Hants.) are excited to announce their collaboration for additional fixtures, allowing the heretofore cancelled CCI2*-S and CCI3*-S classes to run alongside a smorgasbord of National classes.
This unique partnership centres around the debut of a compact and forward-thinking timetable, which will see these international classes run over the course of one day each. Affectionately nicknamed ‘Little Tweseldownham’, the competition will run on Thursday, May 20th and Friday, May 21st at Tweseldown, followed by two days of action at Little Downham over the 22nd and 23rd of May. Both venues will host the FEI classes and National classes, allowing each organising team to host smaller international sections and the ability to run all three phases on one day. This represents a unique opportunity for competitors to gain international experience and qualifying runs while cutting the cost per run – and the associated biosecurity risk of on-site stabling – considerably.
“Like so many owners I had been looking forward to watching my horses compete at the stunning Rockingham Castle,” says Little Downham organiser Tina Ure, who created the concept. “I am grateful to British Eventing for endorsing this joint bid with Tweseldown and our innovative timetable that will enable both professional and amateur riders the opportunity to complete a CCI-S in one day. I have shared the frustration of many owners and riders about the additional expenses often incurred to compete at this level and welcomed the opportunity to try something different. Working with Rachael [Faulkner] at Tweseldown is a new collaborative venture aimed at maximising the competition opportunities for all despite the difficulties caused by the Coronavirus and EHV-1.”
Little Downham stepped in at the last minute to host the same fixture in 2012 when Brigstock cancelled, prior to the fixture being reinstated at Rockingham Castle. Tweseldown, as a venue, has a long history of hosting international fixtures dating back to the Olympic equestrian events in 1948. This fixture will, however, mark the first modern-era FEI fixture at the Hampshire venue.
“Tina Ure has been championing the idea of an all-in-one day CCI for ages, but it has taken Covid for it to come to the fore,” says Rachael Faulkner, Managing Director of Tweseldown. “I am thrilled that Tweseldown, sponsored by Lucinda Green XC Academy, will be sharing the FEI and National classes with the Childeric Little Downham Horse Trials.”
The revived fixture has attracted much praise from both professional and amateur international level competitors.
Suffolk-based New Zealand Olympian Caroline Powell commented: “This new format is a much needed and long-awaited development and could be just what’s needed to help revive and lift the sport. Keeping the costs low and limiting the need for on-site stabling will make the FEI classes more
accessible for new competitors and makes it more financially viable for professional riders and owners.”
Bristol-based professional rider Alexander Whewall said: “Rockingham was a key fixture for me with the younger 3* horses, so it’s really good to see it’s being replaced. As a professional rider running a smaller operation, the CCI events can get expensive for me, as they require longer periods of time away and therefore increased staff costs to cover the horses at home. Having a choice of locations with good ground and organisation is really good. The real bonus will be getting the CCI done in one day. That is going to be a benefit to a lot of people and we’re really keen to see how it will work.”
Amateur 5* competitor and full-time working vet Katie Preston also supported the initiative: “Being able to do a CCI3*-S in one day, at the weekend, would be a big advantage to those of us who have to juggle annual leave. By the time you’ve factored in three days off for a spring and autumn long-format, and then the time off for four to five short formats in a season, it doesn’t leave you any days for an actual holiday. On-site stabling is so expensive that I will often look for local stabling and drive in each day. This format would really reduce the costs and hassle for a large number of riders.”