At the helm is Gemma Cooke who has been running the arena’s dressage schedule for five years building up a comprehensive calendar of competitions that includes both affiliated and unaffiliated days. In 2015 she oversaw the arena’s first Area Festival and says that this three year commitment from British Dressage demonstrates the confidence they have in us as a venue. She said:
“It will be huge pressure but we are ready for this next step. Having the semi finals for three years also means that we can invest in new equipment to make it a really special and memorable competition, such as new raised boards and flower boxes.”
Hopes for a new all-weather surface, which will be large enough for two long arenas, are high ahead of the Festival, which if all goes to plan will work alongside the existing Everys arena.
“It’s really something to get my teeth into. Bicton lends itself so well to these larger competitions with the stunning setting and atmosphere. We have a fantastic backbone of local people who help at each competition and enable it to be possible, as well as a raft of British Dressage judges that we use on a regular basis who are all amazing and very supportive. It is a very exciting time for the arena and dressage in the West Country.”
Arena manager Helen West added:
“Gemma has worked so hard to build Bicton’s reputation as a premier venue for dressage competitions, and I am thrilled that her hard work has been rewarded. Hosting the semi-finals is a huge step but it is very much in the right direction as we continue to grow and evolve.”