Competition calendar looking up after big freeze stops play

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  • With the mercury starting to climb in most parts of the UK, organisers are working to reschedule some fixtures abandoned due to last week’s snow.

    The “Beast from the East” and Storm Emma resulted in a delay to the start of the affiliated eventing season.

    All British Eventing’s (BE) fixtures — Isleham, Moreton, Epworth and Aston-le-Walls (1) — were cancelled.

    “Obviously the snow meant that it was a hugely disappointing, although not totally unexpected, start to the season for everyone with all of the scheduled fixtures abandoned,” BE sport manager Debbie Pritchard told H&H.

    “The snow is now clearing — however the weather forecasts for this coming week predict some heavy rain.

    “We are therefore closely monitoring the forthcoming scheduled events and hope that the weather is on our side so that we can make a start to the 2018 season.”

    Point-to-pointing was likewise a whiteout, with all six meetings scheduled for this weekend forced to cancel or reschedule.

    The Duke of Beaufort’s has successfully rearranged its fixture at Didmarton for 10 March, while the Brecon & Talybont Hunt at Llanfrynach has rescheduled for 17 March.

    Organisers of the Thurlow, which was set to take place at at Horseheath over the weekend, and the Derwent, which was scheduled to run at Charm Park on Sunday (4 March) are looking for new dates.

    “It’s been a disappointing end to February, with some desperate weather causing several abandonments, including an entire weekend,” a Point-to-Point Authority spokesman told H&H.

    “What has been fantastic though has been the swift response of our participants and organisers to re-schedule most fixtures that were lost.

    “Great teamwork is crucial to pointing, and that has never been more apparent than during these testing times.”

    Wellington Riding abandoned the final day of its British Dressage (BD) regional championships, which has been re-arranged for 7 March.

    Summerhouse Equestrian Centre postponed its full regional championship schedule by a week. This will now run from 7 to 9 March.

    Tamsyn Cowie, BD’s sport operations director, said: “When the weather warnings started to circulate, we began planning with our regional venues — we had plans, contingency plans and ultra-contingency plans.

    “It’s sad to lose any competition days but where regionals are involved, it provides an extra challenge particularly as the weather threatened our last two, leaving no alternatives for riders to re-route.”

    Ms Cowie added the “paramount consideration” was safety.

    “We could not ask members to endanger themselves or their horses,” she said.

    “We worked round the clock with the organisers to so they were in the best position possible to make any decision to cancel or postpone, made all the more difficult with ever-changing weather reports.

    “Thankfully, with a herculean effort from the teams at Wellington and Summerhouse, the officials and volunteers involved and our regional and office teams, venues were able to postpone and communicate alternative arrangements for competitors within hours of the cancellation.

    It’s times like this that we can all be proud of the equestrian community — everyone was magnificent and thank you to all involved to make sure everyone has a fair chance to compete at a regional and be in with a chance of a place at the Winter Championships.”

    Several British Showjumping fixtures have been rearranged following weekend cancellations, including the Small Pony Premier Show at Arena UK (new date 24-25 March).

    The showing calendar was also hit, with new dates in the pipeline for some cancelled competitions.

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    Most racing was abandoned, with the majority of racecourses opting to cancel or reschedule.

    While some all-weather fixtures were able to run over the weekend, all turf racing was abandoned.

    Southwell was the only fixture to go ahead on Friday (2 March), to the surprise of many in the industry given the weather warnings and travel advice.

    A spokesman for the racecourse said the situation at Southwell was “carefully reviewed” and organisers spoke to a number of trainers whose horses were travelling to the fixture before deciding to go ahead.

    He also confirmed the surrounding roads were clear at the time.

    The Met Office has forecast further rain and snow in the north, with drier weather elsewhere this week.

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