International dressage back at Hickstead, as British CDI tour confirmed

  • Britain’s international dressage calendar has been boosted for 2023 with new and returning fixtures at high-profile venues.

    Addington returns to the fold this year, opening Britain’s international calendar (16–19 March). International dressage is also back on the schedule for Royal Windsor Horse Show (RWHS) for the first time since 2019, swiftly followed by Hickstead.

    British Dressage (BD) chief executive Jason Brautigam told H&H that owing to the cost, complexity and logistical challenges of competing overseas, BD wanted to offer “additional opportunities for our international riders across all levels and age groups”.

    “The sport has grown considerably in recent years, so it’s vitally important that our senior, para, under-21 and under-25 athletes all have access to these invaluable home-based shows to obtain scores for selection,” he said.

    He added that the sport is “delighted to welcome back” Addington and Hickstead, and confirmed that the existing CDI/CPEDI fixtures at Wellington (8–11 June) and Hartpury (2–9 July) are in the calendar this year.

    “Following extensive consultation with our international riders, RWHS and Hickstead, everyone agreed that they would like to see a British CDI tour in mid-May to showcase the top combinations,” he said.

    “These will run consecutively, with Royal Windsor hosting their CDI4* grand prix and freestyle on 10 and 11 May, and the CDI3* at Hickstead will run from 11 to 14 May.

    “All five of these venues offer top-class facilities and will provide a fantastic experience for riders and spectators alike, so we are looking forward to working with them to establish this exciting new-look international dressage programme in 2023.”

    Hickstead’s draft schedule has the CPEDI and youth classes during the week, with the senior CDI classes provisionally set for the weekend. This would mean there should be no direct cross-over for the senior classes at Hickstead and Windsor.

    Mr Brautigam addressed the question of whether having the two shows in the same week could present a challenge.

    “There are now more than 200 combinations who compete at international level across senior, para and under-21s, so we are confident that these shows will be well supported,” he said.

    “Although Windsor and Hickstead are running in close proximity, we are hoping that some of our top riders will be able to support both shows with different horses.

    “Traditionally only five to seven British riders take part in the showcase class at Windsor, so this should have minimal impact on Hickstead. There is always plenty of demand to take part in the grand prix class at national level too.”

    Hickstead director Lizzie Bunn said: “With another dressage international being held at Royal Windsor Horse Show just before our international classes take place, it is hoped that more riders will travel from overseas to compete at two top British showgrounds in the space of a week.”

    Gareth Hughes and Carl Hester both voiced support for the return of international classes at Hickstead.

    “Given the challenges of competing on the continent at the moment, it’s more important than ever that British-based riders have the opportunity to compete on a bigger stage on home soil, and now they will have the chance to ride at both Windsor and Hickstead in the space of a week,” said Carl.

    Rider Richard Davison, who is also dressage organiser at RWHS, told H&H they have had good discussions with Hickstead and are collaborating on areas, such as judges. He said the show is also looking into extra stabling to cater for Windsor competitors who will be travelling on to Hickstead with other rides.

    “We want to make it as easy as possible for all the riders so they can make the most of the opportunity to do both,” he said, adding that he hopes having two shows close together will also make the trip “appealing for overseas riders”.

    “I think it’s going to be fantastic,” he said. “As a rider, there’s no question that the more UK-based internationals we have, the better. Brexit has made it so expensive and complicated to travel to Europe.”

    Addington, which recently reopened for the first time since the pandemic, has a new team in place.

    Sport director Alan Beaumont, who has experience of running top dressage shows including at Bolesworth and Sentower Park, Belgium, told H&H they “brought forward plans” to host CDI/CPEDI when the spot previously held by Keysoe became available.

    He said Addington is keen to support the national calendar and governing bodies (“without them there is no national sport”) and is also looking into international jumping dates in future years.

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