Bicton rocks during action packed eventing weekend

PUBLISHED: 14:16 25 April 2019

Phoebe Locke and Union Fortunus in action at Bicton. Picture WILLIAM CAREY

Phoebe Locke and Union Fortunus in action at Bicton. Picture WILLIAM CAREY

William Carey

Australian Christopher Burton took the top two places in the Rathbones CCI3* at Bicton Arena International over the Easter weekend where thousands of spectators converged to enjoy three packed days of action, an Easter egg hunt, dog show and free activities, writes Lucy Johnson.

But the event had a sad tinge to it for organiser Helen West and her team as it is the last time international classes will be hosted during the spring fixture following the recent outcome of British Eventing's International fixtures review.

Helen said: “We are thrilled with the way the weekend has gone. We were blessed with the weather and welcomed more visitors than ever who got to witness three great days of sport. We were very lucky to have so many high calibre riders on the doorstep and are overwhelmed by the support we have received from riders, owners, the public and all stakeholders.

“I just feel so sad that this is the last time we will have the opportunity to run international classes at this time of year. The venue is ideally suited to run at this end of the season with the permanent infrastructure and sandy soil which always guarantees good going at this time of year.

“Bicton has always traditionally been a pre-Badminton run for many competitors and there is a clear demand for the FEI classes in this region, at this time of year which hasn't been recognised.”

Burton's two rides in the CCI3*, Lawtown Choice and Polystar both finished on their dressage scores, with 3.4 penalties between them. In third was Kitty King with Cristal Fontaine who also finished second on MHS Fernhill Finale in the CCI2*.

Kitty said: “I was delighted to finish third behind Chris's two very good horses. He's only seven and I was really pleased with him. He won the three star at Belton and has jumped another super double clear. He's just stepped up to this level and he feels consistent on both phases.”

MHS Fernhill Finale was contesting just his second two star having finished tenth in the CICYH* at Osberton last year. “He went very well and did a lovely test. He's a big horse but he's very neat and careful and he was foot perfect across country. He's a nice up and coming seven-year-old,” said Kitty.

Phoebe Locke, 19, from Somerset headed the CCI2* on Ardeo Fun Size, finishing on her dressage score of 26.2.

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The 19-year-old from Somerset said: “I thought the course was really nice with a good few questions which I really like. He's owned by Eventing First PLC and I wanted to give him a confidence giving run here. I was happy with the dressage and he showjumped really well. This is my favourite event and I've been coming here since I was six!”

Burton also headed an intermediate section on Coup De Coeur Dudevin, ahead of William Fox-Pitt on Atlantic Vital Spark.

Sir Mark Todd had the perfect pre-Badminton run with NZB Campino who headed the open intermediate with a dressage score of 23.6 with the advanced intermediate going to Tim Price on Wesko.

Second was Alcatraz, ridden by Alexander Bragg who also finished eighth on his Badminton contender Zagreb and notched up a win on Shannondale Aristo in a BE100.

Local winners included Dorset's Annabel Doyle who headed a BE100 section on her 14.2hh pony Clonboo Sunny and Ben Lee Liles who finished in pole position in the BE100Open on Urlingford Tom with the under 18 section going to Ellie Fredericks on Belaero.

Emma Melhuish, from Cornwall, has been hugely consistent on the 17hh Woodfalls Brook, adding another win to their tally in the BE100Plus. The ten year-old was bred at Buckfastleigh by point-to-point trainers Gordon and Odessa Chambers.

BE90s went to Lifton's Lizzie Luxton on Grantstown Clara, Siobhan Murphy from Paignton on Langarth Gwendolen and Somerset's Fiona Fischer on the veteran Mister Maverick with Toots Bartlett, also from Somerset, heading the intermediate on C Why.

Summing up the event, Cleveland's Sophie McDearmid, who is based with Andrew Nicholson, said: “Having competed at all the venues handed international status in the north, I can whole heartedly confirm Bicton as being in another league entirely.

“I had the best weekend eventing I've had so far and I'm hugely grateful for the opportunity, It's a thankless task at times but all the competitors I spoke to this weekend fully appreciate you and your glorious event.”

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