A full independent inquiry has been launched by the British Eventing board of directors upon learning that the 2005 Windsor International Horse Trials made a loss of £130,000 — £95,000 over budget.

The British Eventing-owned horse trials, which incorporates Quest-X and The Prospect Cup, had a disappointing year with sponsorship and entrance ticket numbers considerably down from 2004. The three-day event is responsible for £50,000 of the loss, while Quest-X accounts for the remaining £45,000. Last year’s event made a profit of £8,000.

“We are having everything thoroughly looked into by auditors which could take a month to six weeks,” said BE’s chief executive Peter Durrant, “but it looks like the loss is income-based.”

Event director, Jonathan Warr offered his resignation with immediate affect, which the board accepted, once the extent of the financial loss become apparent. Independent auditors, Saffery Champness are carrying out the full analysis of costs in the hope of ascertaining why the event made such a dramatic loss.

The number of people that attended the competition did not appear to tally with gate income, leading to speculation that gate crashers were, in part, responsible for the loss in revenue. A lack of sponsorship is expected to be responsible for the rest of the shortfall.

“It is very difficult to stop people getting into the horse trials without paying” explains Durrant, “and the build up to the competition was late, so not enough sponsorship was secured.”

Durrant was keen to dispel any concerns that such a significant loss could impact on the sport as a whole, saying: “We don’t expect to have to impinge on any of our reserves. If anyone suffers, it will be staff and some of the activities at head office.”