‘As good as anything abroad’: new-look premier British show gets thumbs up all round

  • The ICE Horseboxes All England Dressage Festival Premier League at Hickstead provided a championship atmosphere and was “as good as any CDI abroad”, riders and judges agreed.

    The second running of the event (12-15 May) which was launched after Dressage at Hickstead came to an end after 27 years in August 2020, had classes from novice to grand prix.

    European medallist Gareth Hughes, who won the grand prix on KK Woodstock, told H&H it was “great to be here”.

    “It’s fantastic,” he said. “Hopefully they’ll keep running it and we’ll have a CDI here; if we did, it would be as good as any CDI we have abroad, and it’s inviting. The arenas are nice to ride in, with plenty of room but still together. We’re very lucky.”

    List one judge Sue McMahon told H&H the event was a “real highlight”.

    “It’s lovely, and the facilities are amazing,” she said. “I hope they run more as having lost Dressage at Hickstead, we struggled for shows with that international, championship feel, and that’s absolutely what this has. The atmosphere is fantastic.”

    Sue said all she spoke to loved the event and hopes it becomes an annual fixture, and added that many of the classes were “a joy to judge” with “really high quality”.

    “I’m in such a good mood now, it really picks you up. Judging quality combinations refreshes and enthuses you, and giving high marks is what we want to do.”

    Hickstead director Lizzie Bunn said the show has gone from “strength to strength”.

    “It was great to open up an extra day of novice to medium tests, which opened the event up to more riders. We really wanted the dressage world to get behind us and support the show, and we weren’t disappointed – to have Olympic riders like Charlotte Dujardin, Gareth Hughes and Fiona Bigwood competing here last week was an absolute bonus, and everyone was so excited to see how Annabella Pidgley’s new partnership with Gio was developing.

    “The feedback from riders has been overwhelmingly positive, and we’re now considering our next steps including a potential CDI in the future. We have to say a big thank you to all our sponsors and official suppliers who helped make the show such a success, plus David Crockford for organising a superb show.”

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