Entries for Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials (Thursday 16th September –Sunday 19th September) will include at least two members of Britain’s recent gold medal-winning eventing team from the Tokyo Olympics.
Both world number one Oliver Townend and Tom McEwen - individual silver medallist in Tokyo alongside his team gold - plan to run at least two horses at Blenheim Palace, which will be staged by The Jockey Club for the first time this year. The prize-pot - already the best in Europe at CCI4* level - has been boosted for the prestigious CCI4*-S for eight and nine-year-old horses by another £7,500 to £22,500.
Both Oliver and Tom have a keen interest in racing; Tom’s father Bobby McEwen is a well-known racecourse vet, while Oliver’s friendship with Oisin Murphy has led to the champion Flat jockey owning a young horse ridden by Oliver.
“It’s fantastic to have The Jockey Club involved in eventing, and I am really looking forward to seeing what an organisation with such long experience of developing horse sport brings to one of our most important horse trials,” said Oliver. “It’s a breath of fresh air for eventing and hopefully will encourage a wider and more diverse audience to take an interest in what we do.”
Tom and Oliver were speaking after taking part in the official National Lottery Team GB Homecoming party and concert at Wembley.
And Tom added: “We had an amazing time in Tokyo. We went there knowing that we could win because Oliver, Laura Collett and I were lucky enough to be riding three of the best horses in the world, and it was lovely to be able to bring home the gold medal.
“Blenheim Palace has always been one of my favourite events, and it will be very exciting to see what The Jockey Club brings to it. It’s terrific to have a new organiser in the sport and I gather they have lots of great plans and new ideas.”
The increased prize-money is due to the generosity of The Friends of Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials (FBPIHT).
Dr Liz Williams, Managing Director of Classic Sport Horses, explained: “The Friends of Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials are a group of passionate equestrian enthusiasts who have come together to support the event financially. We are owners, riders, breeders and support a wide range of eventers at all levels.
“We are very excited to be able to support this event and look forward to meeting owners and riders who will be making full use of the opportunities this wonderful event offers.”
Having missed so many shopping opportunities in the past 18 months, visitors to Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials will be treated to a wide range of high-quality trade stands, food outlets and bars.
There is also a packed schedule of entertainment on the Saturday and Sunday of the event (September 18th and 19th) in the Family Fun Zone, including appearances from children’s TV stars Peppa Pig and Hey Duggee, dog agility, the brilliant Shetland Grand National and side-saddle displays. BBC Radio 1 DJ Greg James and Chris Smith will be reading extracts from their new children’s book, and there will be meet and greet sessions with YouTube star This Esme.
Ian Renton, Event Director, said: “With just four weeks to go until the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials, momentum is really starting to build towards the event. It is fantastic that we will hopefully see our recent Olympic Champions, Tom and Oliver competing over the four days, as well as former event winners such as William Fox-Pitt on the course.
“We are very lucky to have such world class athletes competing at Blenheim this year, and it is going to be a wonderful chance for our spectators to get close to the action.
“The four days promise to be filled with fantastic sporting action and quality entertainment off the course too. We are really looking forward to the event and welcoming people through the gates.”
To find out more and to buy tickets (under-18s are free), visit www.bpiht.co.uk
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
The Jockey Club is delighted to announce seven prestigious partnerships have been agreed for the 2021 Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials, which take place between Thursday 16th and Sunday 19th September.
The four-day event is being organised for the first time this year by The Jockey Club and takes place against the spectacular backdrop of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, the seat of the Dukes of Marlborough and birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.
Pol Roger - Official Champagne Partner
Pol Roger has been producing exceptional champagne for over 170 years. To this day the house remains small, family-owned, fiercely independent and unrivalled in its reputation for quality. Indeed, it is this quality which brought about Sir Winston Churchill’s lifelong attachment to Pol Roger. Churchill, who famously insisted of Pol Roger "In defeat I need it, in victory I deserve it", was born at Blenheim Palace, hence the partnership with the Jockey Club for the 2021 Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials is particularly fitting. The Champagne Pol Roger Lodge will be the ultimate environment in which to unwind and enjoy a glass of Pol Roger; an oasis from the adrenaline-filled Cross-Country course and fantastic shopping opportunities.
Bentley - Official Luxury Automotive Partner
In 1919, it was W.O. Bentley’s vision that kick-started this iconic marque. He set out to make ‘a fast car, a good car, the best in its class.’ From this flash of inspiration he created an extraordinary company that attracted visionaries, adventurers, entrepreneurs and heroes of motorsport from around the world. People with spirit, people with innovation, people with imagination. Bentley, which celebrated its 100thanniversary in 2019, has been involved at The Jockey Club since 2015.
Boodles - Official Jewellery Partner
Boodles is the leading British fine jeweller whose reputation has been built on the quality of their innovative design, quality and exceptional customer relationships and service. Boodles have nine shops - its flagship stores are on London's Bond Street and in Liverpool. There are three Boodles in the North West of the UK, one in Dublin, two further shops in London, a concession in Harrods Fine Jewellery Hall, and one in the Savoy Hotel. The company was founded as Boodle and Dunthorne in Liverpool in 1798 and has remained a family company. Boodles’ relationship with The Jockey Club is longstanding, with the company having sponsored at the Cheltenham Festival since 2014.
Ben & Jerry’s - Official Ice Cream Partner
Unilever ice cream has partnered with the event and will activate with the Ben & Jerry’s brand. This unconventional and quirky ice cream brand will bring a new dimension to the renamed Ben & Jerry's Arena featuring fun activities across the four days of competition and no doubt a welcome source of dessert for those customers that will be staying on the Campsite! Other opportunities to indulge in their wonderful products will be available extensively across the show grounds.
Mark Todd Collection - Official Clothing Partner
Working with the legendary dual Olympic Gold medal-winning eventer Sir Mark Todd, the Mark Todd Collection is one of the UK’s leading brands offering a comprehensive range of high-quality equestrian products. Since launching 25 years ago the brand has over 2,000 products and has become synonymous with quality and craftmanship. The collection will be showcased at the event, including an exclusive Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials range to celebrate the partnership.
Horse & Country – Official Broadcast Partner
Horse & Country is the leading international sports network for the passionate and active equestrian community. Headquartered in London, it is available globally via connected TVs, mobile and web, and on leading digital and pay-TV platforms in the US, UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Australia. Horse & Country’s programming line-up includes live coverage from leading sporting competitions in all equestrian disciplines, as well as training and learning shows, documentaries and entertainment.
During the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials, members of Horse & Country’s streaming service, H&C+, will be able to watch all of the sport from all three phases. There will also be a range of free content including the trot up and daily round-up show After Hours (Thursday - Sunday evenings), presented by Alice Fox-Pitt and Chris Hughes.
Ford - Official E-Car Partner
Ford UK, will showcase the Ford Go Electric roadshow during the Blenheim International Horse Trials. This interactive exhibition has been designed to demystify and answer any questions about switching to electric cars and vans and help banish range anxiety. Visitors will learn how to plug in and charge, the benefits of living with an electrified vehicle and what vehicle is best suited to your personal and/or Mach-W and the plug-in hybrid Kuga as well as find out all there is to know about the science of electrification technology and reducing CO2 emissions and motor running costs.
Ian Renton, regional managing director of The Jockey Club, commented: “Our planning for the 2021 Blenheim International Horse Trials is very much a case of full steam ahead and we are delighted to be able to announce a number of our Official Partners today.
“From the likes of Bentley and Boodles, with whom we already have longstanding and successful partnerships, through to renowned and respected names such as Pol Roger and Ben and Jerry’s, our team has worked hard to form partnerships with brands which share our vision of taking the Blenheim International Horse Trials to a new level.”
About The Blenheim Place International Horse Trials
The Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials is one of the crown jewels of the eventing calendar and takes place over four days in September each year. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 event and this year’s competition will be subject to Government protocols and safety guidelines in place at the time.
The fixture includes FEI-accredited and internationally-recognised competitions; a CCI4*-L (four-star Long) and CCI4*-S for eight and nine year old horses (four-star Short). The 2019 CCI4*-L competition was won by one of Britain’s leading event riders, Piggy March, with her then-10 year old gelding, Brookfield Inocent. The 2019 CCI4*-S was won by Australian Chris Burton and his nine year old, Clever Louis.
For all background information on the 2021 Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials, please visit https://bpiht.co.uk/.
Britain’s Willa Newton scored an impressive double at Alnwick Ford International Horse Trials, winning both the Newton Hall CCI3*-S and the Hambro Sport Horses Burgham International Horse Trials CCI2*-S at the Northumberland event.
The Leicestershire-based rider took the CCI3*-S aboard her own Lawrence and Anne Marshall’s Cock A Doodle Doo, a nine-year-old by Clarimo whom she bought in Germany as a three-year-old. She was second after dressage on a score of 26.4. When the leader Alex Hua Tian picked up 7.6 cross-country time-faults on Hamlet to Willa’s 2.4, she seized first place.
Willa rode Katie and Jamie Davenport’s homebred mare Light The Fuse to victory in the CCI2*-S. Fourth after dressage with a mark of 29.4, the pair added nothing to that score to vault up the leaderboard.
Willa said: “I’ve had a great weekend - this is my first time at Alnwick Ford, but I’ll definitely be back! Cock A Doodle Doo was super - he’s very exciting. It was a good cross-country course for him; there were lots of different questions and the going was great. He had a few spooky moments in the dressage, but I was pleased with him and his jumping phases were spot-on.”
This was a first international victory for eight-year-old Light The Fuse at just her second attempt at the level.
Jamie Davenport said: “For someone called Light The Fuse, she’s been a slow burner - she was quite a slow starter, but she’s really come into her own in the past year. Willa is doing an amazing job with her and we’re so thrilled.”
This was also the owners’ first visit to Alnwick Ford, which is situated between Newcastle and Alnwick.
“It is absolutely worth the four-hour drive - it’s a lovely place and everyone has been so friendly, and the viewing on the cross-country course is fantastic,” said Katie Davenport. “The plan now is to come to Burgham [Alnwick Ford’s ‘big sister’ event, 28 July-1 August] because it is run by the same team and they have been so welcoming.”
East Lothian’s Douglas Crawford was second in the CCI3*-S on Geoff and Elspeth Adam’s Shadow Lad. Douglas, who has just won a place on HorseScotland’s performance squad for 2021-2023, completed on his dressage score of 31.4.
He and third-placed Vittoria Panizzon (Mandy and Alan Morrison’s Gebaliaretto) were two of only three riders not to pick up time-faults round David Evans’ cross-country track. Vittoria, who hopes to represent Italy at the forthcoming Tokyo Olympics, also finished second and fifth in the CCI2*-S with Irish Jig III and Chatter On.
Vittoria said: “I’m thrilled. I had a slightly shaky start when I didn’t have the dressage I expected on Gebaliaretto. She’s normally sensational, which was a bit frustrating. After that I was determined not to waste a single mark and to stay on that score! She’s very honest and a great jumper - the only hard bit is the steering, because she can get quite keen.”
This is the first time that Alnwick Ford International Horse Trials has hosted a CCI3*-S class. Event Director Martyn Johnson said: “It has been great to see some of Britain’s top riders here this weekend, and the feedback about the courses and the ground has been very pleasing. We are now putting all our efforts into Hambro Sport Horses Burgham International, which will be the biggest horse trials in Northern England this year and a real eventing bonanza with a festival feel to it. Having had to run ‘behind closed doors’ last year, we can’t wait to welcome the public back to Burgham next month.”
Nicola Wilson Triumphs In CCI4*-L
Nicola Wilson looks to have another star in the making with Jamie and Jo Lambert and Deirdre Johnston’s JL Dublin, a horse that shone in all three phases of the CCI4*-L at the Bicton International Horse Trials, supported by Chedington.
The pair led from the start, sealing victory in the best possible style with an immaculate clear show jumping round in which Nicola had no margin for error. Although Piggy March and Vanir Kamira, the second last to jump, went out of contention with an unlucky four rails down, the pressure was still on: Ros Canter and her rising star Lordships Graffalo, the runners-up, and Gemma Tattersall on Santiago Bay, third, had both already performed beautiful clear rounds to clinch the British one-two-three.
“JL Dublin normally gets very excited and squeals in the warm-up, but today he really had his brain in gear and I thought and hoped that this might be our day,” said Nicola, who was keen to heap praise on the organising team at Bicton Arena. “They have done an amazing job all round, from the cross-country course to the arenas and footing.”
Bubby Upton Crowned U25 Champion
The future looks bright for British eventing after a sparkling performance by the three young riders heading the CCI4*-L u25 at Bicton International Horse Trials, supported by Chedington.
Bubby Upton emerged the winner — and the national under-25 champion — on her cross-country runner-up Cannavaro, with Heidi Coy second on Russal Z and Yasmin Ingham third on Banzai du Loir, the least experienced of her three rides. The trio received many plaudits for their sympathetic horsemanship throughout the weekend and look set to be stars of future senior British teams.
Bubby, 22, had sealed her victory on her mother Rachel’s Dutch-bred, 14-year-old Cannavaro by the time she was last to go on her cross-country leader, Cola lll, who hit three fences to drop to fourth.
“I’m finally a British champion!” said Bubby, who is a former Junior European Champion and a much-medalled member of Britain’s youth teams. “Six times I have been in the lead for a national title, but never won it.
“Cannavaro is a class jumper and this shows he’s got a future. He has a heart of pure gold. Cola was just a little bit flat, but it’s his first mistake this year.”
Heidi Coy, 21, admitted that the journey back to her home in the Vale of Belvoir in Leicestershire would seem that little bit shorter after such a successful week, with three horses in the top 14.
“She’s only little, but she’s feisty and she answered every question,” Heidi said of David Ottewell’s nine-year-old grey mare, who showed early promise with 15th place in the prestigious Young Horse Championships at Le Lion d’Angers, France, in 2019.
Yasmin Ingham, 24, was full of praise for her youngster, Sue Davies and Janette Chinn’s Banzai du Loir: “For him to jump like that after the cross-country we had yesterday was fantastic. It shows he’s got a huge future.”
Tom & Toledo Take CCI4*S
Olympic selectors were given lots to think about — and plenty of good news — in the star-studded CCI4*-S , supported by Chedington, which featured more than 100 starters from 12 nations.
British riders longlisted for Tokyo filled the first five places after the final cross-country phase, with Tom McEwen heading a stellar leaderboard on the much-coveted jumper Toledo de Kerser, owned by Fred and Penny Barker, Jane Inns and Ali McEwen. Tom finished on his dressage score of 23.0, having finished bang on the optimum time of 7 minutes at the culmination of a superb all-round performance.
Kitty King put up a spirited challenge in second place on the striking grey Vendredi Biats, finishing two seconds inside the optimum cross-country time and a mere 0.1 off the winning score.
The world champions Ros Canter and Allstar B made it look easy in third, also remaining on their dressage score, of 24.6. Laura Collett’s run of brilliant form continued with fourth place on London 52 and the world number one Oliver Townend was fifth on his dual Kentucky winner, Cooley Master Class.
“I am thrilled to bits,” said Tom. “I’ve had several rides this weekend and to pull off such an important result on this horse is amazing really, and shows how special he is.”
“I was delighted with the cross-country. It was just what we needed at this point of the season — there was no hiding behind it — and the organisers had tried their utmost with the going.”
Kitty King joked: “Tom could have been gentlemanly and been a few seconds slower! But ‘Froggy’ [Vendredi Biats] felt brilliant; he has become so much more consistent in the dressage, which is exciting. I couldn’t be more proud.”
Ros Canter’s 16-year-old “Albie” is coming to form at exactly the right moment. “It’s been a long three years for him,” said Ros, a reference to the birth of first child in 2019 and then the pandemic. “At the start of the season, he was a little lethargic, but now he really wants to be here and not in the field.”
The Bicton team, led by Helen West, organised this sporting bonanza in just seven weeks, and thanks are due to the Horse Trials Support Group and Event Horse Owners Association, who both provided funding towards upgrading the cross-country, as well as Chedington, whose invaluable support made a CCI4* at this much-loved Devon fixture possible.
“Chedington is delighted for Nicola Wilson, Tom McEwen and Bubby Upton who showed excellence in all three phases to claim the three titles in our first partnered event with Bicton,” said Dr Geoffrey Guy of Chedington.
“Chedington Equestrian are passionate about creating opportunities for horses and riders to train and compete under the best conditions and, this weekend, Bicton has provided an absolutely world-class setting for a very important fixture for horses and riders. Chedington is delighted to have played a part in this and looks forward to working with Bicton in the future to continue to be able to offer the highest calibre of events in the UK.”
“What a fantastic competition we have had,” concluded Helen West. “It has been an absolute pleasure to host Bicton’s first 4-star. There have been some outstanding performances — huge congratulations to all the winners and thank you to all our sponsors, especially Chedington who has been instrumental in awarding our deserved winners an epic prize fund.”
Nicola Wilson produced a brilliant performance on JL Dublin — clear and inside the optimum time — to stay at the top of the CCI4*-L leaderboard after a thrilling cross-country phase at the Bicton International Horse Trials, supported by Chedington.
She was the first of six riders to achieve the optimum time of 10 minutes 8 seconds over what proved an influential track. “I am absolutely delighted with how he went — he just galloped and jumped,” she said of the 10-year-old Holsteiner owned by Mr and Mrs Lambert and Mrs Johnston. “Near the end of the course, I said ‘Come on,’ and on he went. He’s a super horse.”
Nicola was initially awarded 15 penalties for dislodging a flag at the downhill skinny fence at 24, but this was later rescinded. “It took me completely by surprise, as I did feel that he was straight.”
The scene is set for a nail-biting showjumping finale tomorrow as the price of one rail covers the top six horses. Piggy March is second with her 2019 Badminton winner Vanir Kamira and Ros Canter is third on Lordships Gruffalo.
Fourth to sixth places are filled by Gemma Tattersall (Santiago Bay), Kirsty Chabert (Classic Vl) and Laura Collett (Mr Bass), who only added 2.8 time penalties to her dressage score. Gemma is also in 10th place on Chilli Knight, the only rider to finish on a clean sheet with two horses.
There were 29 clear rounds, with errors well spread around the track. William Fox-Pitt, who has risen to eighth place on the mare Graffenacht, was among the leading riders to praise Helen West’s new 4* course. “I did think before I rode it, this is a really good course. It is the kind of track we have been crying out for [after a season interrupted by the pandemic]. I now know that I have a 5-star horse.”
Nicola echoed William’s sentiments: “When I saw the course, I couldn’t help but be excited; I couldn’t wait to get going. It was a treat to ride and the ground was perfect. I can’t praise the organisers enough.”
Tom McEwen, ninth on Dreamaway ll in the CCI4*-L, now holds a joint lead in the CCI4*-S. He showjumped clear on Toledo de Kerser, as did the world champions, Ros Canter and Allstar B. Both horses are longlisted for the Tokyo Olympics, as is third-placed Vendredi Biats with Kitty King.
Japan’s Kazuma Tomoto has risen to fourth place with a clear round on Vinci de la Vigne.
The CCI4*-S cross-country takes place tomorrow. Follow the action on Horse & Country (www.horseandcountry.tv) and with start times and live scoring on www.eventingscores.co.uk.
Yasmin Ingham has set herself up for a second national under-25 title as she leads the young riders’ CCI4*-L u25 at Bicton International Horse Trials, supported by Chedington, after the completion of the dressage phase on Janette Chinn and Sue Davies’s Banzai du Loir.
Cheshire-based Yasmin, 24, who is originally from the Isle of Man, took the British accolade in 2019 when she finished second behind Ireland’s Cathal Daniels at Bramham. At Bicton, she was awarded a mark of 26.9 by judges Les Smith, Angela Tucker and Anne-Marie Taylor and holds a slender advantage over Bubby Upton, who is second and third after dressage on Cola lll and Cannavaro.
Both Bubby and Yasmin will have a busy cross-country day with three rides apiece: Yasmin is also lying 10th on Rehy DJ and 24th on Night Line, and Bubby has a ride in the CCI4*-S, Magic Roundabout IV.
Banzai du Loir won the CCI4*-S for eight- and nine-year-old horses at Burnham Market in 2020. “We’re still not 100% glued together,” Yasmin said of the 10-year-old chestnut that came to her from France in May 2019, “but there’s so much more we can do. He’s got the wow factor so I just need to nail a few areas, like the flying changes, but he has only done a handful of 4-star competitions. The cross-country will be a big ask for him, but he is the sort of horse that will jump where I ask him.”
The order at the top of the two senior CCI4* leaderboards remains unchanged, with Nicola Wilson heading the CCI4*-L on JL Dublin and Laura Collett and London 52 who not been headed in the CCI4*-S, which contains several potential Olympic combinations.
Tomorrow’s eagerly awaited cross-country phase begins at 9am with Tom McEwen and Braveheart first out on course in the 83-strong CCI4*-L.
“There have been some truly outstanding performances in the dressage arena, but now I am so excited to see how my cross-country track will jump and very much hope that the competitors will enjoy the opportunity to gallop through our beautiful Grade-1 listed parkland,” said organiser and course-designer Helen West.
Horse & Country will be livestreaming all the action; to tune in or subscribe, visit www.horseandcountry.tv
The scene is set for a fantastic weekend of competition at the Bicton International Horse Trials, supported by Chedington, in East Devon where the park is looking at its summer best with organiser and course-designer Helen West's noticeably upgraded and beautifully presented CCI4* track.
"I am so excited," said Helen. "I have always wanted the opportunity to showcase Bicton to a wider, international audience. From a designer's point of view, there is so much different terrain to play with, but I have been mindful of keeping the flow. It has been a joy being able to focus on one track [instead of several national classes] and being able to appreciate how beautiful the park is."
Captain Mark Phillips has been acting as Course Advisor and Helen explains: "I was really chuffed because he hasn't made many changes to my ideas - only subtle tweaks. He has so much experience as a designer and there is nothing he hasn't tried, so his advice and support has been absolutely invaluable."
Leading riders have been assessing Helen's work and are full of respect. "The quality of the fences is fantastic," said reigning world champion Ros Canter, who is competing her Olympic longlisted horse Allstar B in the CCI4*-S.
Tom McEwen, who also has his Olympic prospect, Toledo de Kerser, in the CCI4*-S, described it as "a proper track". He added: "You would never underestimate the course here anyway, and you always know that they will do the work on the going [the track is being watered]. To come here and find 'Bramham at Bicton' is exciting and inspiring. They've done a super job."
At this early stage of proceedings, Laura Collett holds the lead in both the CCI4*-L (on Dacapo) and the CCI4*-S on her Olympic longlisted horse London 52, and competitors in the under-25 CCI4* are starting their dressage phase this afternoon (results and start times on www.eventingscores.co.uk).
Tickets are still available for spectators on Saturday and Sunday (www.bicton-arena.co.uk) and live action is being streamed by Horse & Country (www.horseandcountry.tv).
The beautiful Devon countryside is to play host, for the first time, to three important CCI4* competitions when the Bicton International Horse Trials, supported by Chedington, take place on June 10-13 at one of the UK’s leading equestrian venues.
Twelve nations with multiple nominated Olympic combinations will be represented across the three competitive sections — CCI4*-L, CCI4*-S and CCI4*-L-u25 — tackling the cross-country tracks designed by Bicton Arena’s manager Helen West under the watchful eye of Captain Mark Phillips who is acting as Course Advisor.
The CCI4*-L will feature such exciting prospects as Ros Canter’s Lordships Gruffalo, a recent international winner at Aston-le-Walls, Laura Collett’s Dacapo and Mr Bass, Alexander Bragg’s King of the Mill plus Gemma Tattersall’s trio of Santiago Bay, Jalapeño lll and Chilli Knight. Among the horses that hit the headlines in 2019 are Piggy March’s Badminton winner Vanir Kamira, Ben Hobday’s National Champion Shadow Man ll and Tom McEwen’s British Intermediate Champion, the grey Dreamaway ll.
An illustrious CCI4*-S entry includes Olympic longlisted combinations Ros Canter and Allstar B, the world champions in 2018, plus Piggy March and Brookfield Inocent, Pippa Funnell and Majas Hope, Kitty King with Vendredi Biats, Tom McEwen and his 2019 Pau winner Toledo de Kerser, Laura Collett with the in-form London 52, also a 4* winner at Aston-le-Walls last month, and world number one Oliver Townend with his dual Kentucky winner Cooley Master Class.
Seven of the world’s top 10 are represented, including Tim and Jonelle Price from New Zealand and Australia’s Christopher Burton and Andrew Hoy. Ireland’s 2019 European bronze medallist Cathal Daniels rides Sammy Davis Junior in a competitive under-25 CCI4*-L.
Nations represented are: Great Britain, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and USA.
“We are delighted that Bicton will, for four days, be the centre of the eventing world, with such a star-studded line-up of horses and riders making their way down to this lovely part of the country,” said Helen West. “It is going to be a first-class weekend of competition and we are enormously grateful to everyone who has pulled together to make this happen, especially Chedington, whose support has enabled us to put on a competition of this stature.”
A limited number of general public tickets will be on sale from 6.00pm Wednesday 2 June, in line with the latest Government guidelines; please visit www.bicton-arena.co.uk for further information.
As England's lockdown restrictions are eased British Eventing is able to relax some protocols in place that allow the sport to take place.
Essential updates are: