A new home and new era for BD’s Winter Championships
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With qualification for the NAF Five Star Winter Championships and Petplan Winter Area Festival Championships in full swing, we’re delighted to announce an exciting new era for these two flagship dressage events, with Addington Equestrian confirmed as the new venue from 2024.
Fifteen years of success and growth
After a partnership spanning fifteen years, Hartpury University and College have concluded their association with the largest event in the affiliated dressage calendar. During its time as the venue for the Winter Championships, the growth of Hartpury has been exponential; in 2018 the college was awarded university status, reflecting its enormous success in the support and development of higher education students specialising in the subjects of agriculture, animal, equine, sport, and veterinary nursing. The establishment now welcomes over 4,500 students from over 60 countries, and is renowned for its sporting success, with world class facilities and faculty providing training and education for Olympic medallists and countless international athletes, including many well-known equestrian figures.
As Hartpury has grown, so has the NAF Five Star Winter Championships, which now see more than 1,000 tests ridden from dawn to dusk across five days of dressage. The Petplan Winter Area Festival Championships that runs alongside is more popular than ever with our grass roots riders and continues to provide a fantastic finale to the winter season. There’s also the Blue Chip Winter Showjumping Championships, sister to its dressage counterpart and now in its 32nd year, which have continued to grow in popularity as competitors vie for success over the coloured poles.
With increased scale comes additional pressure on time and resources for both Hartpury as a venue and on Show Direct, our long-time event management partners. Due to the vast amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to deliver major fixtures, the Show Direct team require a three-week window to be able to host these multi-discipline events back-to-back, whilst maintaining the highest of standards for competitors. This underpins the decision for a change in venue, as Hartpury’s academic schedule means that a three-week event takeover for the Easter holiday period is no longer viable or sustainable long-term.
Hartpury’s support of the NAF Five Star Winter Championships has been unwavering, and for this our grateful thanks go to Philip Cheetham and his team at Hartpury Equestrian Centre, as well as to the wider Hartpury University and College faculty under the leadership of CEO and Principle, Professor Andy Collop. We appreciate their ongoing commitment to BD, which is unaffected by this decision, and will continue to work closely with the venue on many other high-profile events in the dressage calendar, including the popular July Premier League and CDI.
A new opportunity at a heritage venue
As one door closes, another one opens, and we’re proud to announce that Addington Equestrian will be the new venue for these prestigious championships. Addington is certainly no stranger to welcoming the brightest of equestrian talents to compete in its hallowed arenas and has previously been home to many high-profile dressage competitions over the years – including the BD National Championships back in the nineties.
Addington Equestrian, originally established at Addington Manor by the Earl and Countess of Inchcape, has hosted domestic and international dressage for over twenty years. Its CDI fixtures and high-profile shows have seen BD Olympic medallists and international stars take centre stage; whilst countless Premier League competitors, regional champions and local riders have also enjoyed their time at the Buckinghamshire venue throughout its long-term tenure as a leading BD venue, providing first class indoor and outdoor facilities.
Based just five minutes away from Buckingham, with easy access from the M1 and M40, Addington Equestrian offers an ideal central location for members. The venue also boasts revamped facilities following its reopening in 2022, with seven arenas, ample parking, 80 permanent and 270 temporary stables on site, an impressive new café and lounge area, as well as space for up to 1,000 spectators.
British Dressage CEO Jason Brautigam commented: “It’s the end of an era for the Winters, and we are sad to leave Hartpury as it has been a wonderful home for these championships over the past 20 years. However, we are lucky to have such a fantastic alternative in Addington, which will ensure that we can continue to provide a first-class competitor experience for BD members at our climax to the winter season. We are also immensely grateful for the ongoing support of our loyal sponsors NAF and Petplan, who will join us on this journey as we open an exciting new chapter for the Winter Championships.”
NAF and Petplan are now both in their third decade of sponsorship with British Dressage and the success of these championships over the years has been in large part thanks to their commitment to continued support of this flagship event in the dressage calendar.
The first NAF Five Star Winter Championships and PetPlan Winter Area Festival Championships at Addington Equestrian will take place from 10 - 14 April 2024.