The international event at Ballygraffan, Ireland, has fallen victim to the credit crunch and will not run in 2009.
Event host June Burgess explained that a lack of funding, plus damage to the land at the event site, has led to the cancellation.
“We have tried everything we can to close the significant shortfall in funding for the event, but are unable to do so within the current timescale,” said June. “Also, with the unexpected damage which has occurred to the fields, we are left with no choice but to cancel the event for 2009. We will not run an event below the standard of previous years.”
A press release issued by the event said that this is a non profit-making event and that even with the support of Ards Borough Council, the premium sponsor in 2008, the shortfall in funding was too great to justify.
Press officer Jane McCarthy explained that the “final nail in the coffin” was when a mis-communication led to the silage on the fields being cut too late, which meant the land might not recover in time for the event.
June’s husband Jim, the event president, said: “But this is not the end of Ballygraffan; we hope it will be possible to re-form for 2010, if we can deal with the outstanding issues.”
The loss of the CIC* and CIC** at Ballygraffan may leave Irish riders struggling to get qualified for CCIs later in the year and the event will be missed by British, as well as Irish, riders. A number of Brits made the trip to the Co Down event in April last year, including Matthew Wright and William Fox-Pitt, who won both the CIC* and the CIC**.
William said after his wins: “[Irish rider] Joseph Murphy recommended the event and it was superb. The ground was good and there was a lot of atmosphere. They had two great tracks, which were both on the strong side, especially the two-star.”