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Coronavirus: first five-star of 2020 cancelled – ‘There really is no choice’

The Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event (23-26 April) has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This marks the first cancellation in the event’s 42-year history, but the worldwide health crisis and concerns about the spread of COVID-19 make this the only decision possible,” said Lee Carter, executive director of Equestrian Events Inc. (EEI), which runs the event.

“This is incredibly disappointing to everyone on so many levels, but the health and well-being of everyone –spectators, volunteers, athletes, staff and officials – is our number one priority and given the current situation, there really is no choice.”

EEI president Mike Cooper added: “Sporting events and large public gatherings are being called off all across the country and it is with deep regret, and with the highest concern for all our patrons, that we take this step. With the recommendation by the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] to cancel or postpone events with guests for the next eight weeks, it became apparent that this was the only acceptable course of action.

Refund options for ticket holders will be announced soon.

Britain’s Oliver Townend has won Kentucky’s last two renewals on Cooley Master Class. A strong British entry was expected at the US five-star this year because many believed the event would closely mimic the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo, with dressage and showjumping both held on an artificial surface and a cross-country course put together by the same designer, the US’s Derek di Grazia.

Piggy French had already stated that she might ride at the event, with last year’s Blenheim winner Brookfield Inocent entered.

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British fans are desperate to know whether Badminton Horse Trials will go ahead. The event issued a statement on its website at 5.30pm yesterday, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s update urging people to practise social distancing and calling for all mass gatherings to be cancelled, stating: “Following the Government’s update on Monday, 16th March, the preparations for the 2020 Badminton Horse Trials are at present continuing, however we are monitoring the situation closely.”

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