‘Exciting new era’ as major national championships move to new home

  • The British Dressage (BD) winter championships are to move to a new venue after 15 years at its old home, in an “exciting new era for these two flagship dressage events”.

    BD has announced that the NAF Five Star Winter Championships and Petplan Winter Area Festival Championships will run at Addington Equestrian next spring, a move from Hartpury University and College.

    “After a partnership spanning 15 years, Hartpury University and College has concluded its association with the largest event in the affiliated dressage calendar,” a BD spokesman said.

    “During its time as the venue for the winter championships, the growth of Hartpury has been exponential; in 2018 the college was awarded university status, reflecting its enormous success in the support and development of higher education students specialising in the subjects of agriculture, animal, equine, sport, and veterinary nursing. The establishment now welcomes more than 4,500 students from more than 60 countries, and is renowned for its sporting success, with world-class facilities and faculty providing training and education for Olympic medallists and countless international athletes, including many well-known equestrian figures.

    “As Hartpury has grown, so has the NAF Five Star Winter Championships, which now feature more than 1,000 tests ridden from dawn to dusk across five days of dressage. The Petplan Winter Area Festival Championships that run alongside are more popular than ever with our grassroots riders and continues to provide a fantastic finale to the winter season.”

    The spokesman added that with the growth of Hartpury comes more pressure on time and resources, for the venue and event manager Show Direct. The “vast amount of work” needed to put on such fixtures means Show Direct needs three weeks to host the winter championships.

    “This underpins the decision for a change in venue, as Hartpury’s academic schedule means that a three-week event takeover for the Easter holiday period is no longer viable or sustainable long-term,” the spokesman said.

    “Hartpury’s support of the NAF Five Star Winter Championships has been unwavering, and for this our grateful thanks go to Philip Cheetham and his team at Hartpury Equestrian Centre, as well as to the wider Hartpury University and College faculty under the leadership of CEO and principal Professor Andy Collop. We appreciate their ongoing commitment to BD, which is unaffected by this decision, and will continue to work closely with the venue on many other high-profile events in the dressage calendar, including the popular July Premier League and CDI.”

    BD said it was proud to announce Addington as the new venue.

    “Addington is certainly no stranger to welcoming the brightest of equestrian talents to compete in its hallowed arenas and has previously been home to many high-profile dressage competitions – including the BD National Championships back in the nineties,” the spokesman said.

    “Addington Equestrian, originally established at Addington Manor by the Earl and Countess of Inchcape, has hosted domestic and international dressage for over 20 years. Its CDI fixtures and high-profile shows have featured BD Olympic medallists and international stars taking centre stage; countless Premier League competitors, regional champions and local riders have also enjoyed their time at the Buckinghamshire venue throughout its long-term tenure as a leading BD venue, providing first class indoor and outdoor facilities.”

    The spokesman praised Addington’s accessibility and revamped facilities, including seven arenas and 80 permanent and 270 temporary stables.

    BD chief executive Jason Brautigam said: “It’s the end of an era for the winters, and we are sad to leave Hartpury as it has been a wonderful home for these championships over the past 20 years. However, we are lucky to have such a fantastic alternative in Addington, which will ensure that we can continue to provide a first-class competitor experience for BD members at our climax to the winter season. We are also immensely grateful for the ongoing support of our loyal sponsors NAF and Petplan, who will join us on this journey as we open an exciting new chapter for the winter championships.”

    “NAF and Petplan are now both in their third decade of sponsorship with British Dressage and the success of these championships over the years has been in large part thanks to their commitment to continued support of this flagship event in the dressage calendar,” the spokesman said.

    The first NAF Five Star Winter Championships and PetPlan Winter Area Festival Championships will run at at Addington Equestrian from 10-14 April 2024.

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