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 (1) is a friendly starter to help settle the nerves before making the first of several climbs up to the Clippersharp Log Table (2) which again should not hold too many fears. There is then a long gallop down to the Empire Picnic Table (3) before climbing back up to the Blackberry Cottages (4).
The holiday is over as riders come to the first question 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. Its then all about control on the steep descent down to the Top Spec Corners (9). 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!
There is then something of a holiday and a chance to make up time as riders leave the Arena over the Chedington Table (10) before disappearing out on the Bicton Park Gardens loop over the Bicton College Monkey Puzzle (11), the Dartmoor Beef Picnic Table (12) and the Jewson’s Table (13).
However as they come back to the Main Arena and the Clinton Devon Estates Cliffhanger (14), control and accuracy are very much needed. 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. The Burghley Table and Arena Rails (15) are not so difficult and more of a speed bump before climbing back up out of the Main Arena.
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.
Riders can then gather their thoughts as they gallop to the W. H. Bond Sawbench (17) but will need to be wearing their five-star pants as they approach the daunting Western Counties Tall and Narrow (18). There is no time to relax though as horses get to the top of the hill they are met by The Burghley Brushes (19), four consecutive Triple Brushes, something none of them will have ever seen before. There is though alternatives for those thinking discretion is the better part of valour.
There is no let up as riders come down to Vardag Oxer & Corner (20). Again the 2m Oxer looks enormous and there is then a forward 4 or more conservative 5 strides to an awkward looking corner.
A long gallop follows down to the HTSG Wilma & Crumble Stumps (21). 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.
Its then a long gallop back up the hill to the last question on the course, the Fisher German Mounds (23). Another bending line but the brushes are tall and not very inviting.
All will enjoy the gallop down to the St James Place Double Brush (24) before the last climb to the Clarke Willmott Brush (25) and the final NAF Finale (26).
There is more terrain on this five-star course than any other in the world, therefore some of the let up fences are more forgiving and there is less intensity than say Badminton or Burghley. The overall examination though is very much five-star and will produce a worthy champion that Burghley can be proud of.
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