A significant number of novice events have been lost from the British Eventing calendar this year, raising questions over the financial viability of running stand-alone competitions at this level.
A total of seven events have been lost, including several long-standing fixtures, such as Tutbury and Northallerton.
Laura Young, the events manager at Merrist Wood, one of the horse trials lost this year, said: “After we were forced to cancel last year’s event [due to bad weather], the college decided that running another affiliated competition at Merrist Wood was not a financial risk they were willing to take.”
Affiliated eventing may return to the college in the future if a sponsor is found, but in the meantime it is gearing up to host an unaffiliated horse trials in June, which, Laura says: “Is more cost-effective due to the lower overheads.”
Several organisers have called for increased support from BE when it comes to handing out advice to prospective organisers.
Chirria Killingbeck, organiser of the now defunct Spire Park, which ran in 2005 and 2006, said: “When Spire Park was starting up, Nick Soley, who leased the land, was starting from scratch. There was nobody to look over his business plan and when the finances didn’t stack up, he was forced to re-think. I believe he was ill-advised. He was only allowed to run the event over one day in the first year and it has been proved on several occasions that this simply isn’t viable.”
Eventing magazine obtained the 2006 accounts for one novice event, which showed a total income of £15,437, including entry fees totalling £11,399. Total payments for the event extended to £16,350, which together with an outstanding unpaid loan to BE of £3,000 meant in 2006 the event ran at a loss of £3,733 — a situation which its organiser claims is fairly standard.
A British Eventing spokesperson said: “It is a well known fact that running a horse trials on your own land will not make you rich, but we have a situation where we have more new events starting up than we have room for in the calendar, which has to be a positive thing.
“Furthermore, BE is there to support prospective organisers and we are happy to take them around events and show them what is involved, including the likely cost.”
Other events not running this year include Shelford Manor, Standish and Houghall.
This news story was first published in Eventing magazine