EVENT REPORTS – Bicton Arena International (1)

Sarah Wells – Gaston reports ..

The three days of competition at Bicton Arena International offered riders of all levels the opportunity to compete over the beautifully presented courses created by event organiser Helen West. As if running an event of this calibre was not enough, Helen even found time to compete herself, riding MBF Swagger in BE100 Section K. The event attracted more than 700 entries with classes ranging from BE90 to CCI3*-S.

Australian rider Christopher Burton dominated the CCI3*-S (Section A). He claimed victory with Lawtown Chloe and took second place with Polystar I.Both horses finished on their dressage scores, with 3.4 penalties between them.Kitty King took third place with Cristal Fontaine.

Kitty said: “I was delighted to finish third behind Chris’s two very good horses. He’s only seven and I was really pleased with him. He won the three star at Belton and has jumped another super double clear. He’s just stepped up to this level and he feels consistent on both phases.”

Burton also came away with a second victory to his name, topping Intermediate Section G with Coup de Coeur Dudevin.

Young rider Phoebe Locke topped the CCI2*-S (Section B) with Ardeo Fun Size. Kitty King finished second with MHS Fernhill Finale whilst Gordon Murphy took third with Monbeg After Dark.

Phoebe commented: “I thought the course was really nice with a good few questions which I really like. He’s owned by Eventing First PLC and I wanted to give him a confidence giving run here. I was happy with the dressage and he show jumped really well. This is my favourite event and I’ve been coming here since I was six!”

Mark Todd may have only just flown back from Australia where he is training flat racer He’s Eminent, but he rode his Badminton Horse Trials mount NZB Campino to victory in Open Intermediate section I. Todd however is straight back to his training duties as He’s Eminent is due to race in Group 1 Race in Hong Kong on Sunday April 28. He will return straight after the race in order to compete at Badminton.

Todd was not the only Badminton bound rider using the event for their final preparations. Sam Griffiths (Billy Liffy), Georgie Spence (Halltown Harley), Christopher Burton (Graf Liberty & Cooley Lands) and Tom McEwen (Toledo de Kerser) all competed as they head for Badminton next week.

Gubby Leach claimed a double of victories. His first came with Timolin in Open Novice Section E making it a third win in a row. Their previous wins came at Bovington and Gatcombe. His other victory came with Royal Harvest in Novice Section C. This was the partnerships second victory on the trot having won at Bovington, and the pair have not been out of the top five already this season.

Annabel Doyle and Clonboo Sunny made their final run before the Mitsubishi Motors Cup at Badminton a winning one, topping BE100 Section M1. The pair will now compete in the BE90 Championship next week. Another rider taking a win before the Mitsubishi Motors Cup was Emma Melhuish, who won BE100 Plus Section O with Woodfalls Brook. The pair will be competing in the BE100 Championships at Badminton.

Emma, who works for her family farming business, told Eventing Worldwide:

“We bought Gerald bought Gerald four seasons ago – he’s got a huge character. It was lovely to win at Bicton, but definitely unexpected. He was fabulous all day and jumped his socks off. We’re feeling good ahead of next week, Gerald is feeling at his best, and we hope to have a good time.”

Alice Procter and Imperial Trump were the winners in the Open Novice Under 18 class (Section F) marking their first BE win. Bronson was previously ridden by Tom Hawke, and Alice was given the ride on him by Cressida Legge. Her aim for the season is to make the Under 18 team for the 2* championships at Frickley.

Alice told Eventing Worldwide:

“Bronson is very experienced but also a very quirky character and has to be one of the sharpest horse I’ve ridden. I am extremely lucky to have been given the ride on him – I am so grateful to Cressida for the opportunity to ride such a nice horse. It can be tough to keep a lid on him in the dressage, which can result in a very tense test with some added movements and that was certainly the case at his first event of the season at Moreton. He has since relaxed in his dressage which makes it a lot easier to ride. He went to Portman as his second run a few weeks ago and did a brilliant dressage but sadly a slip up the ramp before show jumping resulting in a banged knee meant he was lame and we had to retire. It was a big relief to put that behind us and get such a great result at Bicton. It feels great to clock up a win early on in the season and it wasn’t a perfect run either – there is plenty room for improvement with it only being his second full run which makes it even more exciting looking at the season ahead.”

Mahony Knight and Inca VI have had a successful run so far this season finishing in the top 10 of their five events so far. At Bicton they topped BE100 Open Under 18 Section N. Ellie Fredericks and Balaero were the winners in the second BE100 Open Under 18 (Section M2).

Fi Fischer and Mister Maverick were winners in BE90 Section R. Fi, who is a maths teacher at Bruton School for Girls, calls 18-year-old Mister Maverick a little pocket. The pair completed on their dressage score of 33.5.

She told Eventing Worldwide: “We have been competing together at riding club level for 10 years. This is our first season at BE, having never been quite brave enough to do it before. He always tries his best for me and I was absolutely thrilled to win our third ever BE event. We have plans to compete in the qualifiers for British Riding Club Horse Trials at Bicton in June and then find some more BE events including a Regional Final. To ride at Badminton Grassroots would be the absolute dream.”

The event had a sad tinge as it is the last time international classes will be hosted during the spring fixture following the recent outcome of British Eventing’s International fixtures review.

Helen said: “We are thrilled with the way the weekend has gone. We were blessed with the weather and welcomed more visitors than ever who got to witness three great days of sport. We were very lucky to have so many high calibre riders on the doorstep and are overwhelmed by the support we have received from riders, owners, the public and all stakeholders. I just feel so sad that this is the last time we will have the opportunity to run international classes at this time of year. The venue is ideally suited to run at this end of the season with the permanent infrastructure and sandy soil which always guarantees good going at this time of year. Bicton has always traditionally been a pre-Badminton run for many competitors and there is a clear demand for the FEI classes in this region, at this time of year which hasn’t been recognised.”

Other section results: Novice Section D Andrew Nicholson, Coolparks Sarco; Intermediate Section H Toots Bartlett, C Why; BE100 Section L Alexander Bragg, Shannondale Aristo; Advanced Intermediate Section J Tim Price, Wesko; BE100 Section K Kitty King, Monbeg Hendricks; BE90 Section P Lizzie Luxton, Grantstown Clara; BE90 Siobhan Murphy, Langarth Gwendolen; Novice Section S Flora Harris, Magnifique Van De Doornhaag; BE100 Section T Alicia Hawker, Dubious Dexter; BE100 Open Section U Ben Lee Liles, Urlingford Tom.

Images courtesy of Tanzy Lee

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