BD Winter Championships are back on!

The NAF Five Star Winter Championships and Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships, due to take place at Hartpury in April, was one of the first large dressage events to be cancelled when the coronavirus pandemic took hold in Britain back in March. However, after working closely with the show organisers, venue, competitors and officials, British Dressage is delighted to announce that riders, horses, owners and connections will not miss their opportunity to compete at Hartpury and the revised championships are now set to run from 17th to 23rd August 2020.

All competitors who had previously qualified for the two championships have been contacted and surveyed, with an overwhelming 75% indicating they would still want to compete at a rescheduled COVID-secure show.  With our loyal members onside, plans were immediately set in motion to get the championships back on track, albeit in a different format from usual.

Long standing event organisers Show Direct, managed by Kelvin Bywater, will oversee the seven day show in line with British Dressage COVID-19 protocols.  The competition element of the show will take place outdoors in the 60 x 80m international arena with Andrews Bowen surfaces.  Two arenas will run consecutively side by side, except while freestyle classes are in action.

The safety of all participants remains of paramount importance, so the championships will be run ‘behind closed doors’ to keep numbers on site to a minimum, in accordance with social distancing, public health and hygiene restrictions. There will be no spectators, sponsors, trade stands or hospitality on site, although competitors will still be able to bring one additional person per horse.

The BD and Show Direct teams will do their utmost to still promote a championship atmosphere for competitors and ensure that the achievements of competitors are recognised and rewarded in the same way as normal.  Those who can’t visit will be kept up to date with free to view live stream of both arenas provided by Horse & Country, plus a full news service and social media coverage from British Dressage.  There will be unmounted prize presentations and photographer on site to capture the championship experience.

Both NAF and Petplan Equine have pledged their full support to the rescheduled championships and wanted competitors to have the chance to take up their hard earned qualification and ride down that centreline at Hartpury.  All the original classes are included in the revised timetable, with the exception of the freestyle elements for the Prix St Georges Gold and Intermediate I championships, as the gala evenings unfortunately won’t be able to take place.

A dedicated microsite to support the Winter Championships is now live and will be updated regularly as further plans are finalised over coming weeks. The full competition schedule will be released early next week and entries will open for a two week window before they close in early August.  Times will be published on 13 August, with the show commencing four days later on Monday 17th August.

Stabling will be available on site as well as a limited catering provision from external mobile units for competitors, connections and officials.

British Dressage Chief Executive Jason Brautigam commented; “Getting a rescheduled Winter Championships back in the calendar was always a priority for us, as part of our sport resumption plans, as long as the competitors wanted it – and they told us they certainly did!  Running a show this size in the current circumstances will be a challenge, but we’re confident that we have robust plans in place to ensure everything runs smoothly and efficiently.  Add to that the management experience of Show Direct and first class facilities at Hartpury and we’re confident that the show can operate safely within government restrictions.  It will be a very different championships, that’s for sure, but after months of lockdown the chance to compete and celebrate success will be as special as ever.”

Show Direct Managing Director, Kelvin Bywater added; “The logistical task of preparing for a 38-class championships in a vastly reduced timeframe is well underway, but we’ll need to work collectively and with a degree of flexibility – that’s the BD and Show Direct teams, as well as the judges, officials, volunteers and competitors.  Most importantly, we’ll all have to play our part, keep to the guidelines and follow the protocols in place – it’ll be a long week of teamwork for everyone involved, but we’re looking forward to it.”