The Badminton Horse Trials’ date clash next year with Easter has angered some local businesses, public, and tradestand owners.
The event has been brought forward to 22-25 April due to the need for it to run over a bank holiday for television broadcasting purposes and to avoid a clash with the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, which takes place a week later than usual.
Jessica Spence, manager of the Crosshands Hotel in Old Sodbury, told H&H: “The Easter weekend and Badminton are our two busiest times of the year. Now they are happening on the same date our April business will effectively be halved.”
Mistubishi Motors’ Badminton Horse Trials director Hugh Thomas said there was no choice but to run over Easter weekend.
“It is not an ideal situation, but it is a one-off,” he said. “It was not possible for Kentucky to move its date due to other commitments in the horse park, and having two CCI****s running on the same weekend was simply not an option [since several top riders compete at both].”
Tradestand owners have mixed views about the clash. Theresa Morris of Treehouse sporting colours, who has had a stand at Badminton for the past 11 years, felt that business could go either way.
She said: “Easter is traditionally a family time and my concern is that more people will choose to stay at home, especially on the Sunday. But, being a bank holiday may encourage more people to visit.”
Other businesses say the cost of paying stand staff to work on four public holidays will make attending unviable.
Opinion is also divided among spectators, some of whom like to go to church on Easter Sunday.
Annual camper Cheryl Savage said: “We will go to Badminton regardless, but it does seem to be getting earlier and earlier every year. I would question the logic of a mid-April date as there is less chance of the weather being settled and, for campers, this is an important factor.”
Another spectator posted on the H&H forum: “It’s much better for me. I’m on my Easter holidays from work so I can go for the whole event without having to worry about getting time off.”
Rolex Grand Slam
Mr Thomas added that the 2011 date had been publicised in the middle of last year.
“The next time a similar situation [a late Easter and a potential date clash] will arise will be in 2016. But because of the longer timeframe, Kentucky has already kindly agreed to change its date to allow us to keep to our traditional weekend.”
The fact that Badminton takes place before Kentucky next year will not affect the Rolex Grand Slam, which requires riders to win Badminton, Burghley and Kentucky back-to-back.
Mr Thomas said: “Should [this year’s winner] Paul Tapner go on to win Burghley, he will also have to compete at Kentucky next spring in order to stand a chance of taking the Grand Slam.”
A rider could also win the Rolex Grand Slam if they win Burghley this year, and Kentucky and Badminton next year.
This story was first published in Horse & Hound (3 June, 10)