The Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, due to take place on 3 – 6 May has been cancelled due to the foot and mouth outbreak it was announced today (Friday 9 March).

The land at Badminton is grazed by 500 deer, 1,000 sheep and a herd of Jersey cows. All access to the Park has been barred for the past two weeks and the land will continue to be closed for the forseeable future. In addition, the Park is surrounded by many other livestock farms.

Organisers say it is therefore impossible to make the final preparations for the event – erection of tents and grandstands, finishing the cross-country course etc – which in a normal year would already be starting on the site.

Hugh Thomas, the Event Director, said “This is a very sad day. We feel for the riders, the spectators and indeed the trade stands who were so much looking forward to coming here, but we completely understand and support the view that any risk of spreading this awful disease is unacceptable”

Peter Durrant, chief executive BHTA said:”This is obviously a tragic blow for the sport, but we are immensely grateful for the support of the competitors and organisers with the decision. For practical reasons, a reschedule of the event is not viable.

“Our thoughts go out to the landowners and farmers suffering as a result of this terrible outbreak.

“We must take heed of professional advice and maintain as positive an approach to the crisis as possible, so as to be stronger in the future.”

Andrew Finding, chairman of the BEF said: “The decision to cancel Badminton was not taken unnecessarily early. There is a huge amount of work involved in preparing the trials – it takes two months alone to build the infrastructure.

“The Duke of Beaufort and the organisers thought long and hard before taking any decisions to cancel the event.

“The food-and-mouth crisis is fast-moving and difficult to control. The Federation has increasingly improving relationships with MAFF and is keen to work together with Nick Brown to contain the virus.”