Organisers of the Chester Horse Show — the largest dedicated show jumping event in the north of England — have pulled the plug on this year’s show.

The cancellation, announced by Scope Promotions (Equestrian) Ltd last week, is due to a clash with the Royal Lancashire Agricultural Show, which has changed dates and been rescheduled for the same weekend (20-23 July).

Scope Promotions director Jimmy Maguire told H&H he was left with no option but to cancel Chester, which is in its fifth year and was broadcast on Sky Sports last year. It was due to offer almost £50,000 in prize-money and among the classes was an H&H Foxhunter regional final.

The Royal Lancashire’s show jumping prize-pool is predicted to rise from £20,000 to £40,000 this year. Among its annual highlights is the BSJA national ladies’ championship.

Mr Maguire said his decision boiled down to the fact the BSJA was “unable to resolve the difficulties of two shows with substantial prize-funds taking place within 60 miles of each other on the same dates”, adding it was something he was aware of before Christmas.

“I am extremely disappointed that the BSJA has allowed two shows of this calibre to take place over the same weekend,” said Mr Maguire. “If they had taken it seriously, the problem could have been dealt with.”

As H&H went to press, the BSJA declined to make any comment outside an official statement, describing the cancellation as “a great shame” and detailing that “from 2007 onwards, all shows will be asked to submit their dates earlier to avoid this scenario”.

“The association values both these prestigious shows highly and had hoped both organisers for 2006 could only have minimised this clashing through detailed schedules satisfactory to both,” said the statement, containing no reference to any BSJA role in the matter.

But Royal Lancashire Agricultural Society (RLAS) chairman Gordon Roberts said no direct contact was made between his show jumping section leaders and the Chester organisers purely because the BSJA had “acted as intermediary”.

“As I understand it, there was some detailed discussion at a committee meeting with the BSJA, where it was decided [by the BSJA] to let the two dates go ahead,” he said, stressing the RLAS had “no desire to scupper the Chester Horse Show”.

He said the decision to reschedule the midweek show was based on the results of a survey of the public, exhibitors and competitors, who preferred a weekend date, adding that the 2007 dates (to be announced in May) would “likely be on the same weekend”.

  • This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (23 February, ’06)
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