Eventing’s FEI World Cup may lose major sponsor

  • Events are preparing to fund the 2011 FEI World Cup Eventing series themselves after rumours that HSBC will no longer sponsor the £113,000-prize pot competition, won by Michael Jung (pictured) this year.

    HSBC has been international eventing’s biggest sponsor since 2008, backing the World Cup, Eventing Classics and the world rankings.

    The bank could not be contacted, but FEI spokesman Grania Willis said: “The FEI and HSBC are currently in positive discussions.”

    But Ireland’s Tattersalls and Derbyshire’s Chatsworth Horse Trials both confirmed they were told sponsorship could be dropped and offered new self-funding arrangements for 2011.

    Chatsworth has agreed, but Tattersalls said it could not afford to do so.

    Tattersalls managing director George Mernagh said: “We have had some hard decisions to make on hearing the FEI [may have] lost the prestigious HSBC sponsorships of the World Cup class.”

    A spokesman confirmed Tattersalls will still run a CIC*** class, but it would not be a World Cup qualifier. It will introduce a CCI*** class as well next year.

    Tissie Reason, event director of Chatsworth International Horse Trials, said it would go ahead with its World Cup class.

    “We were asked to consider running the class without sponsorship and helping to fund the final prize,” said Mrs Reason. “It’s a very different way of managing things.”

    She was unable to say how much the new arrangements would cost the horse trials, but said it hoped to find new sponsors.

    So far, 10 of last year’s 13 World Cup events have agreed to continue to stage the series.

    Tattersalls, Kallispell, Montana in the US and Mansfield in Canada have pulled out.

    Mrs Reason said she understood that no final would be held, but the World Cup winner would now be decided on points accrued across the series. The FEI has not confirmed this.

    The FEI website states that the prize-money to the winner of the 2011 competition will be £25,300, down from £31,700 this year.

    HSBC will continue to sponsor the Eventing Classics prize.

    Former director of Burghley Horse Trials Bill Henson has accused British Eventing’s (BE) chairman Alexandra Fox of causing the Burghley Estate to charge its long-standing contract with BE.

    But Mrs Fox claims the event just wants to make money.

    From 2011, BE will no longer run Burghley and may lose some £200,000 income.

    In a letter to Horse & Hound, Mr Henson said Burghley’s decision to take over the running of the event came about when Mrs Fox was appointed chairman of BE and demanded that “BE should increase more direct control over such a major provider of its funds”.

    He said that she proposed “a new agreement between BE and the [Burghley] Estate and a new event committee, with BE providing increased involvement with the financial management”.

    This, he believes, left Burghley with “little option other than to give notice to terminate an agreement that had worked to the benefit of both parties for the best part of 50 years”.

    Mrs Fox told H&H: “After the issue with Tweseldown [where there was no formal agreement, which led to disputes between BE and Tweseldown’s director over running unaffiliated competitions and costs], our auditors advised us that we should review the terms of our governance with Burghley.

    “Burghley has terminated the contract because it wants to make more money.”

    This article was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound, 16 December 2010

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