Will Rawlin and VIP Vinnie make their five-star debut this week. Photo by Tilly Berendt.
It’s a rather extraordinary feeling, but here we are — we’ve made it to deepest Devon, in England’s rural southwest, where the Chedington Bicton Five-Star is ensuring that Britain can host a CCI5* for the first time since 2019. This ‘pop-up’ five-star comes just a matter of months after the venue hosted its first-ever four-star, stepping up in June to replace the classes ordinarily held at Bramham.
Today kicked the week off as 34 horse-and-rider combinations presented to the assembled ground jury of Andrew Bennie (NZL), Jane Dolley (GBR), and Seppo Laine (FIN), and though they were occasionally near interrupted by confused pensioners who thought they were doing a tour of the park and gardens, the afternoon’s proceedings were largely uneventful. Each of the presented horses was accepted without reservation, and all 34 will start their competition in earnest tomorrow.
Pippa Funnell and Majas Hope. Photo by Tilly Berendt.
Harry Mutch and HD Bronze. Photo by Tilly Berendt.
Jewellery company Hi Ho Silver was on hand to award a prize worth £250 each for the best-dressed male and female competitors. Harry Mutch, who will ride HD Bronze in their second CCI5*. The best-dressed female was Pippa Funnell, who wore an eye-catching tailored coat to present her two rides, Billy Walk On and 2019 European Championships trailblazer Majas Hope.
James Avery and Mr Sneezy. Photo by Tilly Berendt.
A prize was also awarded to the groom of the best turned out horse. Frankie Murrell, who was previously Pippa Funnell’s head girl, won for her sterling work on Mr Sneezy, the mount of New Zealand’s James Avery.
In light of the compact field of competitors, tomorrow’s schedule will see the entirety of the first phase run over one day, beginning at 9.30 a.m. local time (4.30 a.m. EST) and running until approximately 5.00 p.m. local/12.00 p.m. EST. Each and every test will be available to view for free via Horse&Country TV, while the weekend’s jumping phases will require a viewing pass, the proceeds of which will be used to supplement the prize pot. Want to brush up on each of the competitors and pick your favourites? Head on over to our Bicton form guide, which runs through each pair’s performance predictions, fun facts and back stories. Tomorrow’s times can be found here. Stay tuned for lots more content from Bicton — including an at-a-glance look at the field of competitors — and in the meantime, Go Eventing!