Attendance figures were down by around 6-8% at this year’s Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (21-25 April), unusually run over the Easter weekend. But feedback from tradestand holders at the event has been favourable.

Advance bookings were down, as was the gate on dressage and showjumping days.

But allowing free access to the tradestands during the Grassroots final, except for a parking charge, on Thursday, helped, said organiser Hugh Thomas.

“We expected over Easter dates to reduce our spectator numbers, but in the end the drop-off was not as great as we had feared,” he said.

“Exhibitors predicted Easter would be less good for shopping and this was one of the reasons for the additional day.”

But most tradestands H&H spoke to had a profitable show.

An Albion Saddlemakers spokesman said it was their most successful Badminton yet.

“The extra day proved an added bonus with people able to purchase items without ‘rugby scrum’ crowds,” she said.

Leigh Gosson from Joules admitted the company was “nervous” about Easter, but the show was very successful.

Theresa Morris from Treehouse Sporting Colours said its sales were up by 20% and Roger Cooper from Rodney Powell said it was an “extremely positive show”.

And Melanie Sharp from Dogs & Co was “very pleased”.

Michelle Girling of Tuffa told H&H it had been busy. “The sales shifted to shorter boots due to the weather, but figures were good,” she said.

And British Eventing (BE) was impressed.

BE’s Mike Barnes said: “It certainly worked for us and BE had record sales of the Team GBR range of clothing on its stand this year.”

Olwen Law from riding holiday agents In The Saddle said from a staffing point of view, it was “very unpopular” working over Easter, but they were “pleasantly surprised” by custom on Grassroots day.

But Sue Simpson from hatters James Lock & Co said the company was disappointed.

“We were sceptical about it being over Easter and didn’t take any more money over five days than we would over four. We’ll have to think hard as to whether it’s viable to go again,” she said.

This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (12 May, 2011)