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The cancellation of Belfast International Horse Show, just one week after it was confirmed to go ahead, has not dampened the organisers’ hopes of a 2006 resurrection.

A new management team is already planning the beleaguered show’s return to the international calendar.

Until last week, the fixture was set to take place (1-4 December) at the state-of-the-art Odyssey Arena — its venue for the past two years.

The brainchild of Theresa McKenna of Equestrian Sports Promotions, the show was styled along the lines of London’s Olympia. But the ambitious project ran into financial difficulties from the start — surrounded by speculation about its future.

It is understood that creditors, including a number of riders, are owed about £140,000, and it is still unclear when, and if, they will be paid.

Earlier hopes of a rescue plan included the appointment of showing maestro Hugh McCusker as chairman of a new management team — also including former Irish international show jumping and event rider Vina Buller, from Co Down.

Intensive talks were held with Theresa McKenna and a 7 October statement, put out by Buller, announced this year’s show would proceed on planned dates “under a new management team and company”, with tickets going on sale from 18 October.

The statement stressed it was “imperative that the show has complete industry backing to secure its future”.

However, the rescue operation was finally called off last Thursday. “We realised that it just couldn’t work,” McCusker said. “We couldn’t do justice to it in the time we had left.

“If we’d been aware earlier of just how much needed to be done, we might have been able to save it, but it’s a five-star show at a five-star venue and we’ve decided now that we’ll pick it up and run a super show next year.

“It won’t be running under the old company — there will be a new one in charge.”

  • This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (20 October, ’05)


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