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Early spring competition takes a battering as stormy weather continues

The early spring competition season has taken a battering as flooding, heavy rain and strong winds hit the UK.

Aston-le-Walls (1) is the first loss of the 2020 affiliated eventing season.

The venue’s British Eventing (BE) fixture, which was due to take place this weekend (29 February and 1 March), has been abandoned. Its unaffiliated event the following day (Monday, 2 March) has also been lost.

Aston is now hosting arena eventing on Sunday (1 March), with classes from 80cm to 110cm, while Isleham BE (29 February to 1 March) is going ahead and has spaces at BE90, BE90open and BE100.

Epworth, which is also scheduled for this weekend, is “good to run” as of Monday afternoon (24 February). The final BE event scheduled for this weekend is Moreton (1) and an inspection is planned for Tuesday morning (25 February).

An update from BE chief executive Jude Matthews on Friday (21 February) said the organisation is “closely monitoring the weather and ground conditions at the early season events”.

“Events that take place in the first part of the season are put early in the calendar with consideration given to their ground conditions and the ability of the site to cope with the more unsettled weather that we can experience in the spring,” said Ms Matthews.

“Our regional coordinators are in regular contact with our organisers and everyone is working hard to ensure the ground is as good as it can be for competitors.

“We know that the recent storms will have caused concern for some competitors, but we want to reassure our members that we are doing all we can to get the season off to a great start!”

A BE spokesman urged members to ensure their email and mobile numbers are up to date on its systems, as abandonment information is sent out via these channels.

Such is the extreme weather that events on all-weather surfaces have also been affected.

The point-to-point calendar has had significant re-arrangements, with a number of fixtures moving their dates only to be thwarted by further deluges and unsettled weather.

The Cottesmore (Garthorpe) and Yorkshire Area Club (Askham Bryan) abandoned their meetings over the weekend (22 to 23 February), with the Ross Harriers (Monmouth) postponed and looking for a new date.

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Others have been re-arranged, including the Combined Services (Larkhill), which will now run on 1 March, the East Devon (Bishops Court) will be held on 7 March and East Cornwall (Great Trethew) on 8 March.

Many have successfully gone ahead, either on their original or rearranged dates, including the Western (Wadebridge), which managed to source the required officials, vets and doctors to go ahead on its third attempt on Sunday (23 February).

“All meetings are doing their best in very trying circumstances to get their fixtures on, and looking for innovative solutions in terms of postponement dates and so forth,” said a spokesman for the Point-to-Point Authority. “Patience is going to be vital for everyone over the next couple of weeks.”

Racing under Rules too has been hit — Worcester racecourse is among those suffering from flooding and was used by Worcester Canoe Club over the weekend (pictured, top).

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