‘Sad news’ as Barbury remains off the British Eventing calendar next season

  • Barbury Castle International Horse Trials will not return to the eventing calendar for the 2024/2025 season.

    H&H reported that Barbury’s July fixture, which included a CCI3*-S and CCI4*-S, had been removed from the 2023 calendar owing to new British Eventing (BE) restrictions placed on international events (news, 2 March). BE’s affiliated agreement for 2023 prevents venues that host international fixtures from running unaffiliated eventing competitions during the year. They can still host riding club and Pony Club events or GO BE fixtures.

    In a statement at the time, the BE board said that “in light of the increased spotlight on equestrian sport’s social licence to operate, venues holding international fixtures in 2023 would be required not to hold unregulated competitions”. Barbury organisers Musketeer Event Management said the restriction seeked to “prevent venues hosting unaffiliated eventing competition”, and that they would continue to run competition, including the Cotswold Cup qualifier, which they had started running at Barbury to make the “affiliated fixture viable”. The 2023 fixture was reallocated to Aston-le-Walls following a tender process.

    At the time, Musketeer said it hoped international eventing could be reinstated for the 2024 season, but on 31 August it announced that after if had been invited by BE to tender for the CCI3*-S and CCI4*-S 2024/2025 fixtures, it had been told by BE that the fixtures had gone to Aston-le-Walls.

    Musketeer director Alec Lochore said that the decision was “extremely disappointing” and told H&H that BE had not given them a reason why they lost the fixture.

    “Barbury Castle is an iconic venue for the sport of eventing, into which significant investment has been made over the past four years since we took the event over – and where more investment was planned,” he said.

    “I don’t know where BE is going with the sport if you can afford to lose venues like Barbury and it would be nice to understand why we lost the tender,” he said. “I’m just really sorry for the members and I don’t know how much BE is listening to the membership.”

    Mr Lochore added that sport will continue to run at Barbury.

    “We will continue to run the Cotswold Cup, so we will still have eventing at this great venue – it’s just not going to be international eventing at four-star level, which I think is quite sad,” he said. “If BE changes their mind, they can; the venue will be there and we will gladly facilitate world-class competition at the highest level.”

    Chris Woodhouse, owner of Barbury Castle estate, added that it was “sad news” for the estate.

    “We love hosting the international with the Musketeer team,” he said. “What makes it more difficult to compute is that it is hard to see how this decision can benefit the sport. We hope that BE will be willing to reconsider their decision in an open and transparent forum.”

    It is understood that BE will be responding to Musketeer directly before it comments to H&H.

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