Chance for businesses to recoup losses as more events washed out.

Eventing’s British championships are to be incorporated into the NAF Five Star International Hartpury Horse Trials on 7-11 August.

The crowd-pulling competitions, for 40 years run during the Festival of British Eventing, looked to be in jeopardy when Gatcombe was abandoned due to “ever increasing costs.” 

Now Hartpury has told ETN that it can accommodate extra tradestands - a bright spot for businesses already hard hit by cancellations of several other major events this season. 

Casualties include last month’s Chatsworth International and Belsay International, which should have happened last weekend.

Both were lost to water-logged conditions, delivering a blow to traders.

“Stepping up at short notice”

The big horse trials’ retail villages attract shoppers in their thousands. So the news from Hartpury will be welcomed by businesses looking for new opportunities to sell or demonstrate their products to good crowds. 

“We'd most definitely welcome additional tradestands,” Hartpury’s equine events co-ordinator Matilda Edmund told ETN. 

She added that open exhibition space or shedding is available.

“Like many others, we were sad to hear of the loss of Gatcombe’s Festival of British Eventing from the calendar this year, and it’s our privilege to be trusted with delivering these championships in 2024,” said Hartpury’s deputy vice chancellor Rosie Scott-Ward.

“While it’s not easy stepping up at relatively short notice, I’m very proud of our team here at Hartpury who have already got to work to ensure we deliver a superb competition and championship atmosphere for competitors.”

Event organiser’s anguish

Belsay International was to run on 29 May – 2 June, until it was abandoned last week.

A statement from Belsay’s organiser Laura de Wesselow paints a picture of the difficulties show organisers face this year.

“After an unusually wet winter and Spring, intermittently persistent (and sometimes torrential) rain over the last week has left the ground saturated with standing water across the site. 

“Entrance gateways are already turning to mud and while we have looked [at] additional hard core and even temporary tracking, it would be very difficult to get lorries and emergency vehicles on site safely. 

“Furthermore, with standing water on the cross-country course and all around the show jumping arena, the event would be seriously compromised for competitors and spectators alike.

“With competitors, trade stands and officials due to start arriving on Tuesday, we have had to take this decision today to avoid people starting long journeys, only for the event to be cancelled later in the week. We certainly do not take this decision lightly, after 10 years of building the horse trials, with the help and support of all our sponsors, officials, contractors, volunteers and competitors.

“We are insured and will be processing refunds.  Please bear with us while we deal with the insurance company.”

Chatsworth International suffered similar problems. It was abandoned on 16 May, the day before it was due to start, following “12 hours of heavy rain on site” and “for the wellbeing and safety of horses, athletes and visitors.”