Future of Scotland’s Auckinleck horse trials hangs in the balance

  • Scottish event riders have welcomed the news that a new CCI* and CCI2* have been tendered for — but expressed dismay that the long-running Auchinleck may be lost from the calendar.

    British Eventing (BE) set up a working group in March in an attempt to reverse the decline in the number of horse trials in the region, particularly above novice level.

    The trend was exacerbated by last year’s wet weather, which contributed to the loss of Balcarres, Central Scotland, Brechin and Oatridge.

    On 12 June, BE’s sport operations manager Chris Farr said Brechin would return for May 2014, while Central Scotland would relocate to Dalkeith, in the Borders, next year.

    “Two venues have submitted a tender for a new CCI* and CCI2* and the decision on the venue and date is due to be made in early July,” he added.

    But the picture with regard to Auchinleck, which has been running since 1984, is confusing. The Ayrshire event — which hosts classes from BE90 to advanced — has fallen foul of the weather for the past two years.

    Organiser Aly Boswell said BE had initially refused to give her a date for 2014, citing insurance reasons.

    But BE insists that no decision to cancel has been taken and “suitable dates for the event in 2014 are being explored” — but only from grass roots to novice level.

    “These venues are so important, but I am not optimistic as Auchinleck is a working farm and we have to work round the silage,” Mrs Boswell told H&H.

    Her Auchinleck Facebook page was inundated with messages of support from event riders, including Louisa Milne Home, a member of BE’s Scottish working group.

    “[Auchinleck] has had a bad couple of years, but when it does run it is really useful to the whole Scottish scene,” she said.

    “I can see from BE’s point of view that it’s become quite unreliable, but we are lacking in fixtures and it would be really bad for Scotland to lose another intermediate and advanced.”

    This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (27 June 2013)

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