British Eventing’s international and championship venues revealed

  • The much-anticipated international and championship fixtures list for 2020 to 2025 has been released by British Eventing (BE) following weeks of speculation.

    Little Downham, Keysoe, Kelsall Hill, Cornbury and Wellington are among the venues that are gaining new classes.

    Great Witchingham, Brightling, Hambleden, Chilham and Frickley have all lost their international status.

    The handling of the strategic fixtures review has been met with frustration (Mark Phillips comment, 28 March). Part of the process involved events being scored for aspects of their fixture, for example medical cover, sponsorship and ground preparation, but a number of organisers were left at a loss to understand the marks they received which did not match previous feedback.

    The main aim of the initiative is to rebalance the calendar to make it work for organisers and riders. It was meant to be released on 1 March, but due to an appeals process was delayed until the end of the month and was finally made public today (3 April).

    Little Downham has been awarded a CCI3*-S and a CCI4*-S to run from 3 to 5 October, which clashes with Osberton (1 to 4 October) holding CCI2*-L&S and CCI3*L&S.

    The event applied for a four-week window issued by BE in which it could hold the event, but has been told it cannot move the date it has been allocated.

    A spokesman for the event told H&H that while they are delighted to have been awarded international status, they are disappointed with the clash.

    “Our whole tender response was created around providing an event with the riders and sport at its centre,” she said.

    “Little Downham in October has always been used as a final run for lots of riders heading out to the continent for the big autumn internationals. We had assumed that BE would relieve the clash with Osberton by juggling the British calendar in order for it to still work with riders’ European plans.”

    Nunney had been told it had lost its international fixtures, putting a post on its Facebook page on Tuesday (2 April) that it was “extremely disappointed” with the decision. However, today that decision appears to have been reversed, with the venue hosting CCI2*-S and CCI3*-S classes in June next year.

    Other notable changes include Bishop Burton as the new host of the under-18 championships, plus junior and young rider-only CCIs*-L. South of England has been awarded the 2020 junior championships, which will run in its CCI2*-S sections. The pony championships have moved to Belsay, which also gains a CCI2*-S.

    Belton has been given a CCI2*-S to run alongside its current CCI3*-S and CCI4*-S; while Alnwick Ford now has a CCI3*-S to go with its CCI2*-S.

    Bicton has retained its October CCI2*S&L, but has lost its spring international classes (CCI3*-S and CCI2*-S) and its autumn CCI3*-S.

    Meanwhile eventers based in the south east and south west of the country wishing to compete at CCI3*-L or above face lengthy trips.

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    ‘Robust process’

    A statement from BE said the overriding objective has been to provide a “balanced fixtures calendar giving the greatest opportunities for members to compete and reflecting the changing needs of the sport”.

    “In addition, key considerations included sustainability, financial viability and geographical spread,” the statement added.

    “A robust process was carried out during 2018/2019 to which all organisers were invited to participate.”

    These stages invited tenders, receiving 60 applications; scored and evaluated the applications; a stakeholder panel allocated the fixtures; conducted an appeal process.

    BE said that to “respect the organisers and the sensitivity of the information provided”, it kept the details of this process confidential.

    BE board chairman Fiona O’Hara thanked organisers for their applications.

    “We were delighted to have received so many high-quality submissions,” she said.

    “As a result of a final review, we identified a geographical gap in the south west, and have therefore taken the decision to rectify this for the benefit of our members by an adding one additional fixture in this region.

    “The fixtures calendar will remain under constant review in order to ensure that we continue to maximise the opportunities for our members to compete.

    We are really excited by the calendar and the introduction of new international and championships venues. This gives our members the unique opportunity to compete at a choice of familiar and much-loved venues along with some exciting new additions.”

    Click here for a list of the 2020 dates and venues; click here for a map

    For more on the fixtures review, don’t miss tomorrow’s issue of H&H (4 April), plus further reaction in next week’s issue (11 April).

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