Eventers in the southwest will benefit from having an international eventing venue in the region, as Bicton Arena is to host CIC1* and CIC2* classes for the first time in 2015.

Event rider Helen West, who became equestrian event manager at Bicton last year, is behind the move.

“We canvassed support from riders and the backing we received was overwhelming,” she said. “[The classes] will be welcomed by west country riders, who will be able to gain FEI qualifications without having to travel hundreds of miles.”

Devon-based eventer Lucy Wiegersma told H&H: “I’ve been competing at Bicton since my Pony Club days and it is a firm favourite. This is fabulous news; there is definitely demand for lower level CICs in the area — the date will be going in next year’s diary.”

The venue, between Sidmouth and Budleigh Salterton, already attracts around 10,000 competing horses a year and hosts affiliated showjumping, dressage and eventing, as well as myriad camps and training days. It has two, large, all-weather arenas and more than 100 cross-country fences.

The venue ran classes up to BE advanced level until 2006. There was then a break of four years until it returned to the calendar as a novice event in 2010.

Helen added: “Bicton Arena has so much potential. It is a stunning venue and everything is here to create a leading competition centre in the southwest. I am very excited about moving plans forward, designing the cross-country tracks and getting local firms on board to help make it the success I want it to be.”

The first international competition will take place in August 2015.

First published in Horse & Hound magazine on 7 August 2014