Following the sad news recently announced that Port Eliot will no longer be hosting a British Eventing fixture, we are pleased to confirm that Bicton Arena will now host the South West Regional Grassroots Championship on 3 – 4 August 2024 and in 2025. This follows an expression of interest for a replacement venue which British Eventing put out last month, and a final decision was made by the BE Fixtures Committee.

Helen West, Bicton Arena’s Co-Director commented, “We really feel for our friends at Port Eliot but will do our absolute best to put on a much-needed grassroots fixture in the South West for BE members. We are excited to host the Regional Championship competition and give as many competitors the opportunity to ride around the stunning parkland here at Bicton.”

Event Organiser at Port Eliot, Tamsyn Hutchins added, “Thank you to all the members, Port Eliot Estate and Lady Bianca who have supported us for the last decade. It is another blow for the South West calendar, but I am thrilled that Bicton is stepping in to provide an alternative option for members in our region.”

Entries will open shortly, so do keep an eye on the British Eventing website for more information.

BICTON INTERNATIONAL HORSE TRIALS

SUNDAY 26 MAY 2024 6.00PM

It is with deepest regret that we announce that Georgie Campbell (GBR) suffered a fatal accident whilst competing at the Bicton International Horse Trials in Devon, England on Sunday 26 May 2024. Medical professionals attended immediately following her fall at fence 5b however, unfortunately, she could not be saved.

The horse, Global Quest, was assessed by the on-site vets and walked back to the stable and is uninjured.

To respect the family’s privacy at this extremely difficult and sad time, no further details will be shared.

Everyone enjoyed the sunny start to the day in Devon for the jumping phases at Bicton International Horse Trials. Three classes took to the cross country course while the showjumping got underway in the main arena for the TopSpec CCI4*-S.

The finest of margins separate first and second place in the Symonds & Sampson CCI3*-L with Gemma Stevens picking up 0.4 time penalties meaning that as Friday’s overnight leader, she slips down to second place. Yasmin Ingham and Gypsie Du Loir take the lead to head into the final day of competition tomorrow for the showjumping. This 8-year-old mare is owned by The Sue Davies Fund, so named after the sad passing of part-owner of several of Yas’ horses, Sue Davies in 2023. Janette Chinn, Sue’s daughter, also part owns the mare who started her eventing career with the Cheshire based former World Champion in 2022. Yas is no stranger to success with a ‘Du Loir’ horse from breeder Pierre Gouyé, her World Championship horse being Banzai Du Loir.

Next to go cross country around the Helen West designed course were the Western Counties Equine Hospital CCI3*YR-L competitors. Leader after Thursday’s dressage, Anna Price and Keep Happy regained their lead from Ivy Fisher and Global Promise who picked up 15 penalties on the course. Hot on Anna’s heels are Joshua Levett and This Ones On You, followed by Isabelle Cook and Mexican Law. Bedfordshire based Anna and 9-year-old Pepsi, as the mare is known at home, stepped up to three-star level earlier this month with a top ten finish at Osberton.

The CCI2*-L class is sponsored by Mitchell & Webber, proud promoters of renewable liquid fuels to replace conventional fossil fuels across the South West, “We are delighted to be supporting Bicton as we have shared values in equestrian sports with social and environmental commitments,” said Robert Weedon from Mitchell & Webber. This class was the last to take on the cross country today, where the top 30 all went clear within the time, the course proving to be a great experience for these younger horses. As a result, the top of the leader board remained unchanged with Tom McEwen and Shannondale Arnold holding onto the lead with 26.5 ahead of Laura Collett on Balancero in second on 26.7 and Ros Canter on Silvesters Finesse in third on 26.8. Tightly bunched together at the top, it will be all to play for tomorrow, with none of the top three able to have even one pole down in order to maintain their position.

Meanwhile, the TopSpec CCI4*-S showjumping phase was in full swing in the Western Counties main arena. The top eight go into the final day of competition on their dressage score, having all gone clear within the time. The top two remain unchanged from yesterday with Laura Collett and London 52 still on track for their campaign for another win having taken the title last year. Laura has partnered Dan, as he is known at home, to success on the biggest of stages including 5* wins at Luhmühlen in 2023, Badminton in 2022 and Pau in 2020, plus a top 10 finish at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021.

Tomorrow promises to be a final day full of thrilling eventing action as well as a packed schedule of demos, great shopping and fantastic food and drink – join us for some fun, book your tickets here.

Dressage continued for the second day at Bicton International Horse Trials with all four overnight leader boards being shaken up.

Laura Collett took the lead from early in the day on Balancero in the Mitchell & Webber CCI2*-L, but after the lunch break, fellow British team member Tom McEwen squeezed into the lead by 0.2 penalties. Riding James and Jo Lambert’s Shannondale Arnold, Tom piloted the Irish bred gelding into pole position with a score of 26.5 which was unbeaten for the rest of the day. Having only taken the reins last year, the pair stepped up to 2* level earlier this month at Osberton.

It didn’t take long for 19-year-old Ivy Fisher and Global Promise to put their stamp on the leader board in the Western Counties Equine Hospital CCI3*YR-L. The pair who are based with Eliza Bell, where Ivy is a working pupil, achieved a score of 25.8. Their performance was enough to take a significant lead of 2.9 penalties ahead of overnight leaders Anna Price and Keep Happy who sit in second place as the dressage phase concludes.

In the Symonds & Sampson CCI3*-L, it looked like overnight leaders Gemma Stevens and Chilli King might hold onto the top spot to head into the cross-country, but German rider Felix Etzel put paid to that with a score of 27.4 on his own Promising Pete TSF. Having both moved to the UK earlier this year, the ten-year old gelding made his British Eventing debut last month at Cirencester Park with a win in the Open Novice.

The morning dressage session in the TopSpec CCI4*-S saw overnight leader Ros Canter on Michele and Archie Saul’s 2023 Badminton winner, Lordships Graffalo, take the lead. However, by lunchtime the pair had been pushed into second by Laura Collett and London 52, last year’s winners of this class. It was going to be difficult for the rest of the day’s cohort to beat their score of 20.1, so Ros and Lordships Graffalo stayed in second on 22.7 with Izzy Taylor and SBH Big Wall slotting into third on 25.0. Japan’s Kazuma Tomoto sits in fourth on his own Vinci De La Vigne JRA.

Tomorrow sees the jumping action begin with the CCI2*-L, CCI3*-L and CCI3*YR-L taking on the cross country and CCI4*-S will be showjumping in the Western Counties arena.

Join us at Bicton for all the eventing action and family fun with tickets available to purchase here.

  1. Cross country

With two days of cross country – both Saturday and Sunday – you’re in for a full weekend of action! On Saturday, three classes will take on the Helen West designed cross country course on the beautiful Bicton Grade I Parkland in Devon. From 9.30am, the Symonds & Sampson CCI3*-L will be on course, followed by the Western Counties Equine Hospital CCI3*YR-L and then the Mitchell & Webber CCI2*-L.

If you’re looking for a good photo opportunity, head to the Paddox Twig at fence 18 (fence 15 in the 2*) – created from a tree that fell on the estate during a storm last year. The huge log weighs several tonnes, so it was quite the mission for Event Director, Andrew Fell and his team to get it into position, plus partially bury it far enough into the ground to make the height suitable!

On Sunday, the top class will be taking to the course, where competitors in the TopSpec CCI4*-S will tackle what Helen describes as a ‘bold and beautiful track which requires stamina’ which has been built by Adrian Ditcham’s DHA Equestrian Services.

There’s no better place to see riders drop into water than at fence 5ABC, the Symonds & Sampson Splash, with the big drop coming when they re-enter this same water complex for fence 7, the appropriately named Symonds & Sampson Log Launch.

Keep an eye on Bicton socials to hear where Event Director Andrew Fell’s favourite spot is to watch cross country from.

 

  1. Showjumping

Again, taking place over two days, the showjumping is tense and exciting!

Catch some of the world’s best horse and rider combinations in the TopSpec CCI4*-S showjump over the course designed by Krissy Spiller on Saturday, getting their jumping eye in ahead of cross country on Sunday.

The competitors from the other three classes who completed the cross country test and who pass the trot up on Sunday morning, will come forward to put their accuracy to the test. Horses will be needing to adapt from jumping solid cross country fences on Saturday to delicate showjumps on Sunday! This provides some edge-of-the-seat, nail biting thrills as all it takes to knock the overnight leader off their top spot could be just one pole down!

 

  1. Food & drink

Choose from a variety of vendors with a range of food and drink options to tickle anyone’s tastebuds! From pizzas and crepes to burgers and baps, plus much more in between, you certainly won’t be going hungry. If you fancy a tipple, enjoy some soft drinks, hot drinks or perhaps even a Pimms when the sunshine comes out!

 

  1. Demonstrations (Saturday and Sunday)

10am Bicton College ‘Eventing on a shoe string’

Not only will Bicton College be doing this exciting Eventing based demo, they will also be doing dog grooming demos and will have their Devon County Show award-winning floristry team on site too. Treat yourself to something nice from their plant and Willow animal sales, and take a trip back in time with their display of vintage tractors.

11am Elite Dressage demo, led by British Championship team member Anna Ross

Their experienced team of riders, led by former British Championship team member Anna Ross, produce the horses from just backed three year olds all the way though to International Grand Prix.

Watch as they showcase the precision and elegance of dressage, highlighting the harmonious partnership between horse and rider. Intricate movements are executed with grace and fluidity, demonstrating both the horse’s athletic ability and the rider’s skill in guiding the horse with subtle cues.

12pm Recycled Racehorse Falconry

The Recycled Racehorse Falconry team are a team of Retrained Racehorses based with Dartmoor Hawking, a private falconry centre on the edge of Dartmoor national park.

Husband and wife team Martin and Philippa Whitley combine a passion for Falconry and Thoroughbreds into a (sometimes) fantastic combination, in the field, in the display ring and for teaching. Their team consists of 5 ex-racehorses, and the aim is to show how hugely versatile the ex-racehorse can be and to put it to a practical use.

Their displays are fast, fun and informative, explaining how they get the combination of the ultimate predator and the ultimate flight animal to work together as a unified team.

1pm All Steps formation team

“It’s like synchronised swimming only with horses”

A 10 strong demonstration team based in Devon, All Steps travel the country performing in shows in their trademark navy blue tails and white breeches. The aim is to bring formation riding to new audiences with demonstrations and show that it is a discipline for everyone, no matter the size or breed of your horse. The team horses range from a 14.1 Bodmin Pony to a 16.2 Friesian Sports Horse who all ride together to music in harmony, producing a beautiful equine ballet.

2pm Working Equitation

Discover the true art of horsemanship and learn about Working Equitation with members of the Association of British Working Equitation and Mark Jenner.

Working Equitation is a real test of the horse’s temperament and training, the riders skill and ability and of course the relationship between horse and rider.

Horses were originally domesticated and trained for farming and herding purposes, work which required them to respond to their rider whatever terrain and difficulties they may face. The sport is a highly refined and sophisticated demonstration of these activities, but with the added required quality of elegance and speed of execution.

Working Equitation comprises 3 phases – Dressage, Ease of Handling, Speed and at International level, cattle penning.

3pm Hound Parade

Watch as the East Devon Hunt parade their hounds and get up close and personal with them in your opportunity to meet the hounds and the hunt staff. Be warned though, you might be ‘hounded’(!) for food and there’s a high chance of being slobbered on!

 

  1. Family Dog Show

Bicton College are hosting a family dog show on both Saturday and Sunday so bring your four-legged friends for some fiercely competitive pooch parades!

Classes include:

  • Most handsome dog
  • Prettiest bitch
  • Most super senior (over 8 years)
  • Child handlet (under 12 years)
  • Best trick
  • Best rescue
  • Best pair (opposite or alike)
  • Best crossbreed
  • Waggiest tail
  • Best in show – open to all that have been placed first in class

 

The first day of competition commenced today at Bicton, Devon for the May International Horse Trials (23 – 26 May) with dressage in the Western Counties main arena where the first group of competitors from all four classes headed down the centre line.

In the Mitchell & Webber CCI2*-L, Olympic hopeful and FEI ranked World number two, Ros Canter and the chestnut mare Silvesters Finesse took the lead in the dressage with a 26.8. Owned by Deborah and Fergus Langstaff, Nessie, as she is fondly known at home, has had a good season so far with three top ten finishes out of three starts, including a win at Oasby in the Novice and second at the same level at Lincolnshire Horse Trials.

The lead was taken from last year’s winner Finn Healy late in the day in the Western Counties Equine Hospital CCI3*YR-L by Anna Price, by the tightest of margins – 0.1 penalties! Riding Tim and Tricia Price’s 9-year-old mare Keep Happy, the pair’s debut at this level saw them finish in the top ten at Osberton earlier this season.

The dressage action in the Symonds & Sampson CCI3*-L saw Gemma Stevens take the lead on Chilli King by 1.6 points, ahead of second placed Tom Jackson and Midnight Endeavour. Sired by Chilli Morning out of Kings Gem, this 9-year-old gelding is owned by breeder Christopher Stone as well as Chris and Clare Mathias.

It’s another overnight lead for Ros Canter in the TopSpec CCI4*-S on MHS Seventeen. With a score of 25.4, the 11-year-old Irish gelding out of MHS Dancing Queen impressed enough to be ahead of second placed Tim Price on Falco IV on 26. The pair are no strangers to success at this level with four top ten finishes at 4* in 2023, including third at Boekelo and fourth at Blair Castle.

Ros was delighted with her horses when we spoke to her after her tests, “I’m really happy with both horses today. MHS Seventeen produced a personal best, which we are delighted with. Silvesters Finess is a lovely young horse and really kept her cool. We are looking forward to more tests tomorrow and the cross country is looking like a really great challenge!”

Tomorrow sees the final dressage sessions take place for all four classes with some exciting combinations still to come – it’s still all to play for ahead of showjumping and cross country on Saturday and Sunday!

Join us at Bicton for all the action with tickets available to purchase here.

Bicton Arena was a hive of activity on the first day of competition for the May International Horse Trials. In the Southfield Arena, the Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse four and five-year-old qualifiers got underway mid-morning, showcasing the eventing stars of the future.

The DBYEH series is a hugely popular competition that culminates in the final held at the Defender Burghley Horse Trials in September. The series aims to encourage breeders and trainers to produce and present the type of young horse which is considered to be the best material to make a world-class three-day event horse.

The judges look for an athletic, loose moving horse with a promising jumping technique and the correct attitude. The winner is the horse with the highest overall marks from four sections: Dressage, Jumping, Suitability & Type and Potential to Gallop.

In the four-year-old class, Anna Johannson took the win on her own and the horse’s breeder, Clare Crocker’s Camira De Madford. With the highest scores in the class for the showjumping (31) and gallop (4.5), Plum as the mare is affectionately known at home, took a clear lead, three points ahead of second placed Torie Sleep and Clever.

Anna comments, “It was the perfect introduction to eventing for Plum, made even more special as she is a homebred. It’s always a bit of the unknown how they will respond to something new, but she seriously impressed us all, and thankfully impressed the judges too. The course and the whole day was just perfect for the babies, so inviting and forgiving. I am so excited to see what the future holds for Plum after a well-deserved long holiday!”

The five-year-old class followed which saw 23 partnerships compete for the win, which was eventually taken by Tom Rowland and Odynn De Jeu. The 17.2 gelding is owned by well-known International Dressage rider and trainer, Pammy Hutton and was bred, as the name might suggest, by Emmy de Jeu, breeder of top quality KWPN dressage horses. This horse has quite the dressage pedigree being out of Idonnee De Jeu by Escamillo, the silver and bronze medallist at the World Championships for young dressage horses. It would seem that Odynn De Jeu has left his dressage roots behind in favour of eventing with some early success at Bicton today.

“Pammy is my next door neighbour at the Talland School of Equitation and I often help by jumping her four-year-olds. Brought unbroken as a three-year-old from Mark Bosanko, he seems a natural over a fence and really enjoys it, so it was an easy transfer to make from dressage. He’s going to be doing his first BE100 in a couple of weeks, which we are excited about,” said Tom.

Helen West, Co Director at Bicton added, “It’s great to have the DBYEH at Bicton, it’s an important qualifier in the South West and these classes provide a great opportunity to showcase up and coming talent. The set up was perfect for the young horse’s education, giving them a quiet area with well-prepared ground to give them a confident and welcoming experience to begin their competitive careers.”

These horses are sure to have an exciting future ahead. This competition is widely recognised as a great opportunity to see the stars of the future, with many winners of the series going on to win top level competitions.

Eventing’s top-ranked riders join us at Bicton in Devon for the May International, 23 – 26 May which is gearing up to be the South West’s ultimate horse trials bank holiday weekend. The prestigious TopSpec CCI4*-S class is set to be a who’s who of Olympic hopefuls with this year’s fixture set to play a crucial role in the lead-up to the Paris 2024 Olympics.

World number one Oliver Townend brings three rides – Crazy Du Loir, En Taro Des Vernier and Trevellick, all looking for success in the TopSpec CCI4*-S along with World number two Ros Canter who brings four rides, including her 2023 Badminton and FEI European Champion ride Lordships Graffalo alongside MHS Seventeen, whilst Jack Of Clubs and Silvesters Finesse will compete in the Mitchell & Webber CCI2*-L. Somerset-based Alexander Bragg is hoping to continue his successful run after his third place at Badminton, this time with Ardeo Premier in Bicton’s feature class.

Bicton is welcoming several other riders ranked in the top 10 of the FEI Eventing World Rankings including Tom McEwen (4) with four rides, Harry Meade (5) with three horses, Tim Price (6), a local rider with two entered, Piggy March (7) brings two as does Yasmin Ingham (8). Last, but not least, the 2023 winner of the TopSpec CCI4*-S, Laura Collett (10) looks to defend her title with London 52 as well as with Dacapo and her recent Badminton ride Hester, whilst Balancero competes in the Mitchell & Webber CCI2*-L.

Winner of the 2023 Symonds & Sampson CCI3*-L, Gaspard Maksud returns to defend his title, this time on Just Perfect, he also brings Haribo Louvo for the two star and Zaragoza II in the four star.

Finn Healy is looking to hold onto his title of Young Rider National Champion, having won the 2023 CCI3*YR-L, this year riding 13-year-old Fathers Compromise. Finn also brings his own Greannanstown Monbeg Joe to compete in the two star following their recent wins at Novice level at both Kelsall Hill and Osberton. Finishing Finn’s trio of Bicton entries is Ramiro Wannabe, 7-year-old gelding by Ramiro B, owned by Caroline Jenks. There’s plenty more young talent in the Western Counties Equine Hospital CCI3* YR-L including entries from Isabelle Cook and Ellie Fredericks.

Local Devon rider and sporting legend, Mary King brings King Louis who started his BE career at Bicton in 2021 and has since seen plenty of success, most recently winning the Novice at Calmsden in April, plus Kings Belief a 7-year-old gelding by Cevin Z both hoping for success in the two star. Fellow local Olympic rider William Fox-Pitt rides BLS Absolutely and eventing stalwart Tina Cook brings Cymoon “F” Z to compete in the three star, a 10-year-old gelding owned by herself and Jim Chromiak.

The four-day competition will provide an exhilarating experience for both seasoned eventing enthusiasts and newcomers to the world of equestrian sports with entertainment and excitement for the whole family; spectators are in for a treat! With a wide array of activities including face-painting, falconry demonstrations and a dog show. Explore the event grounds and enjoy a variety of tradestands and catering options, highlighting the best of the South West’s local cuisine.

Renowned for its beautiful parkland, spectacular views and challenging cross-country courses, Bicton’s Event Director, Andrew Fell says, “We’re very much looking forward to welcoming so many top riders to Bicton, it’s going to be a fantastic weekend of competitive riding and family fun for all.”

Get your tickets for just £10 via the website www.bicton.com and under 12’s go free. Full entries list and live results can be found at www.eventingscores.co.uk. Live action is being streamed by Clip My Horse www.clipmyhorse.tv/en_GB/

The future of the South West’s leading event centre, Bicton Arena has been secured by husband-and-wife team, Helen West and Andrew Fell who will jointly take the reins of the prestigious equestrian venue that offers a range of training and competition opportunities.

The former Chief Executive of British Eventing, Helen West and current Bicton Arena Manager, Andrew Fell have both completed their stints as Managers at Bicton and are synonymous with the venue’s popularity and success. The duo will now jointly manage the venue under a new era that will be sure to bring much success and renewed enthusiasm to the South West equestrian region.

“I’m excited to embark on this new journey and explore innovative ways to expand our offerings and cater to the diverse needs of our equestrian community. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us, we will take it with both hands and endeavour to represent its loyal community as we strive to provide opportunities for those at all levels,” said Andrew, Co-Director. “We would like to thank Clinton Devon Estates and the Clinton family for their trust in us, and for working collaboratively with us to enable this to happen.”

Home to a host of competitions in dressage, showjumping and eventing from grassroots to elite level, the venue will continue to offer an ambitious calendar of high quality events.

Co-Director Helen added, “Bicton will always hold a special place in my heart, I first competed there when I was just seven years old. Thirty years later I got married there! Bicton really put me on the map with my cross country design career, which is something I am hugely passionate about, and opened doors for me to design around the world. I am committed to offering quality coaching for South West based riders and am keen to build a real sense of community and comradeship for us to all enjoy.”

Attention eventing enthusiasts and equestrian fans! The May Bicton International Horse Trials, taking place from 23 – 26 May 2024, is gearing up to be the South West’s ultimate horse trials weekend, and tickets are now officially on sale. We can expect the prestigious CCI4*-S class to be a who’s who of Olympic hopefuls with this year’s fixture set to play a crucial role in the lead up to the Paris 2024 Olympics.
 
This event promises to be a spectacular bank holiday weekend, showcasing world-class riders and their equine partners in the ultimate equestrian triathlon. Experience the elegance and precision of the dressage phase, the skill and accuracy of the showjumping phase, and the thrill and excitement of the cross-country phase – truly the ultimate equestrian challenge.
 
The four days of competition will provide an exhilarating experience for both seasoned horse enthusiasts and newcomers to the world of equestrian sports. It’s not just a sporting event; it’s a celebration of eventing excellence, with entertainment and excitement for the whole family.  Spectators are in for a treat, with a wide array of activities including face-painting, falconry demonstrations and a dog show, ensuring there’s something for everyone. Explore the event grounds and enjoy a variety of tradestands and catering options, highlighting the best of the South West’s local cuisine. Get ready for a weekend filled with skill, precision, and the joy of equestrian competition.
 
Tickets can be purchased here from just £10 and don’t forget under 12’s are free. 

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