Bicton Arena has record entries and world-class riders at meeting that starts on Friday

Action from the 2017 Nunney Trials

Action from the 2017 Nunney Trials - Credit: Archant

With a list of entries that reads like a who’s who of eventing, Bicton Arena International Horse Trials, which begins on Friday (April 19), looks set to be the focal point for all equestrians keen to watch their favourite equine stars in action, writes Lucy Johnson.

Former World and Olympic champions are among more than 900 horse and rider combinations who will be in action over the course of the three days, taking part in dressage and show jumping before setting out to tackle to tackle the cross-country courses on the rolling parkland of East Devon’s Clinton Estate

The action begins on Friday when Mitsubishi Badminton Horse Trials contenders will be put through their paces as a preparation run before the world’s most famous eventing competition.

In the advanced intermediate, Badminton-bound entries include Pippa Funnel, who rides Billy Beware; Gemma Tattersall, who brings her top horse Arctic Soul and Pamero 4; Kristina Cook, who partners Billy The Red; Sam Griffiths on the 2014 Badminton winner Paulanks Brockagh, Padraig McCarthy with Mr Chunky; Andrew Nicholson on Jet Set IV and Flora Harris partners Bayano. Local hero Alexander Bragg rides Zagreb in the open intermediate.

On Sunday, the Rathbones and Chatham-sponsored International classes take place on a day which promises to provide a feast of equine prowess for spectators to enjoy with Laura Collett, Andrew Nicholson, Izzy Taylor, Mary and Emily King all in action, while William Fox-Pitt and Jonelle Price are other big names who ride in the novice classes.

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Course designer and organizer Helen West said: “We’ve received an unprecedented number of entries, which is fantastic for Bicton Arena, and we’re over the moon that so many international riders are competing here, whilst we are also looking forward to welcoming the grass roots riders too.

“It will be a very busy three days, and we very much hope that spectators from across the region will come along and enjoy a day out in the Devon countryside and watch the crème of eventing in action.”

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The gates open each day for spectators at 8am and the cost is £10 per car. There’s an array of trade stands available to browse and catering is available on site.

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