Following its cancellation in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Winter Championships have been reinstated with a revised competition set to run in August
An overwhelming 75% of competitors who qualified for the NAF Five Star Winter Championships and Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships said they want to compete at a rescheduled, COVID-secure competition. Show Direct will oversee the seven-day championship at Hartpury to ensure it stays in line with COVID-19 protocols. The competition will take place outdoors in the 60x80m international arena, and two arenas will run consecutively, except in the case of the freestyle classes.
Safety of competitors, staff and volunteers is the priority, so there won’t be any spectators, sponsors, trade stands or hospitality, although competitors can bring one additional person per horse. By keeping numbers to a minimum, the event will be able to run in accordance with social distancing, public health and hygiene restrictions.
Horse & Country will provide a free livestream of both arenas, and there will be a news service and social media coverage from British Dressage. There will be unmounted prizegivings and an onsite photographer to capture the championship. Thanks to NAF and Petplan Equine’s support, all the original classes will run, except the freestyle elements of the Prix St Georges Gold and Intermediate I championships.
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 and 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 championship in a vastly reduced timeframe is well underway, but we’ll need to work collectively and with a degree of flexibility. 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.”
The full championship schedule will be released shortly, with entries closing in early August. Times will be published 13 August, with the show running 17–23 August.
For more information, visit britishdressage.co.uk or bdchampionships.com