Excitement builds for Devon’s first international event of the season

PUBLISHED: 10:15 29 March 2018 | UPDATED: 10:15 29 March 2018

Equestrian picture

Equestrian picture

Archant

It is all systems go at Bicton Arena with preparations well underway for its first international horse trials, which take place on April 20 to 22, writes Lucy Johnson.

Organiser and course designer Helen West has implemented several changes to the cross-country courses that run through grade one listed parkland belonging to Clinton Devon Estates.

She said: “I am feeling excited as I have some super new fences to play with, as well as a new ditch complex which has been built over the winter months.

“Thankfully, all groundworks were completed before the arrival of both Beasts from the East, which although picturesque, have been somewhat of a hindrance to the beginning of the eventing season with several events cancelled.

“My heart goes out to the organisers of the events that have sadly not been able to run; so much preparation goes into running an event, and it is truly soul-destroying to then not be able to run it.

“We are fortunate at Bicton to be on old sandy loam turf, which is very free draining, but even we would have been unable to run under a blanket of snow! Our head groundsman, Matt Lynch, timed his harrowing and rolling to perfection, as he finished the park the day before the snow arrived.”

New to the schedule this year is a CIC* class sponsored by Chatham, one of Britain’s key lifestyle footwear brands specialising in nautical and country styles. The class will run alongside the established Rathbones-sponsored two star section and the addition is expected to attract an influx of high calibre competitors to the Devon venue.

A full range of classes are included on the schedule, from BE90 to advanced intermediate, alongside the international classes.

Helen said: “The tracks will be educational at all levels, with horse and rider combinations being asked fair and obvious questions, especially given the early stage of the season and the lack of runs they may have had. All courses will encourage positive riding and my aim is for riders to come back and say, ‘wow, that jumped great’.”

Entries are coming thick and fast for the event with several leading names from eventing heading to Devon to compete, offering spectators a fantastic chance to enjoy a day in stunning countryside watching great sporting action.

Entry is £10 per car and as well as top class sporting action, there will be a vast array of trade stands to browse along with top notch catering from award-winning Kenniford Farm.

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