For once only: organiser of Britain’s only 2021 top-level event looks forward to good competition

  • The organisers of the only British CCI5* event of 2021 are promising good competition and an event to remember, for all involved.

    The Chedington Bicton Horse Trials, which runs this week (3-5 September) is to be a one-off, a replacement five-star planned organised and executed in a few months as a substitute for the cancelled Badminton and Burghley horse trials.

    “It’s going to be really special for whoever wins as it will be held this one time only,” new Bicton manager Andrew Fell, who has recently taken over the job from his wife Helen West, told H&H.

    “If you’d told me a year ago that Helen would have left Bicton and be running British Eventing, and I’d be running Bicton, having run a four-star event and about to run a five-star, I’d have said you were having a laugh! But this year has made us think.

    “The big thing here is the most amazing facilities; the grade I listed parkland, the surfaces, the most amazing grass arena, and the biggest thing is the most phenomenal team, and that’s what means we’re able to do this.”

    Andrew said the field of 38 may be significantly smaller than the normal Badminton or Burghley start list, but this was what was expected.

    “It was never going to be huge entries because of having the Olympics and European Championships in the same year,” he said. “That’s about what it was always going to be, and it’s a really good field and will be a really good competition.

    “It would have been easy to say that with the two championships, there was no point running it but otherwise, it would have been two years without a five-star, which wouldn’t have been good for the horses.

    “There are horses for whom this is their moment, and the window for running in a five-star is quite small. It’s so important we put this on, for riders, owners, horses and the public.

    “This is going to be one to remember. Most five-star venues have years of running at four-star and 11 months to prepare; we had seven weeks to prepare for the four-star and 11 to put this on.

    “But my big focus is on having a really good competition, and my second is to make sure it’s a great experience for everyone who comes.”

    Andrew said Mark Phillips’ cross-country course is a “cracking” one, with “probably a few more let-up fences than Badminton or Burghley”, adding: “It’s a good five-star track.”

    There will be some 5,000 spectators welcome on cross-country day, so people will not feel “swamped”.

    “It’s going to be a more personal experience, not people 10 deep at all the jumps,” Andrew said. “You’ll be able to see all the action and get close to it.

    “Ticket sales are going really well; we’re very pleased with them. Everyone needs to come because we’re going to have a great time.”

    Andrew said the team is looking forward to the event.

    “I’m really excited, and very proud,” he said. “I feel very honoured that we’ve been given this opportunity, and we’re looking forward to welcoming everyone.”

    He thanked those who have helped and supported Bicton, including both Badminton and Burghley, and added that there will be a “very good collection” of about 30 trade stands.

    “And we’re having a big screen to go in front of the bar,” he said. “The best thing you can do is sit and have a beer and watch the cross-country.”

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