Chairman of Ponies (UK) Davina Whiteman has “retired from the day-to-day running” of the beleaguered showing organisation.

On Monday, P(UK) board members met “informally” and a statement released at 3pm read: “Davina will remain as chairman in a consultancy role. . . A new chief operations officer will be appointed and be advertised [for] shortly.”

Mrs Whiteman was asked to resign after the summer championships at a directors’ meeting on 22 August. But Mrs Whiteman refused to go, and over the past fortnight the situation has been coming to a head.

Rumours of a financial crisis were heightened after P(UK)’s website collapsed for days; members bemoaned hikes in membership fees and one winner contacted the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after a class advertised as carrying prize-money of £1,000 turned out to be worth only £35.

But board director Jon Phillips told H&H the organisation had no financial concerns and that it was in “fine shape”.

Mr Phillips was himself at the centre of gossip on one showing forum, which suggested he intends to succeed Davina Whiteman. Mr Phillips said that he had “absolutely no intention” of taking over at P(UK).

“I don’t have the time it deserves — it’s a full-time job and I have my own businesses to run,” he added.

When contacted by H&H, Davina Whiteman declined to comment.

Read this news story in full in today’s issue of Horse & Hound (5 October, ’06)