Equestrian sport’s governing bodies have thanked riders for their support as competition remains on hold – and more cancellations have been announced.
In a joint statement, British Dressage (BD) and British Showjumping (BS) urged members to abide by government guidance to help contain the spread of the coronavirus. Last week’s statement on competition cancellation was to apply until 16 April, which falls in line with the government’s three-week lockdown, but this will be “monitored closely and reviewed on a regular basis”.
But major events after this date have already been cancelled.
The statement read: “Major dates for national and regional competitions take a great deal of planning, organisation and financial outlay. It is important that we continue to make timely decisions on whether these need to be cancelled or postponed, to allow enough notice for all participants as well as minimising costs for venues.”
The cancelled dressage events are: Keysoe Premier League (24-26 April), the senior inter regionals and para home international at Keysoe (2-3 May), Addington Premier League (8-10 May), Somerford Park Premier League (22-24 May) and Hickstead international (24-27 June). In showjumping, the Wellington international (19-21 May) and Wettenhall international at South View (2-5 July) are off, as are Equerry Bolesworth International, the Hickstead Derby meeting and Royal Windsor, as previously announced.
Regular updates on everyday competition and training will be provided based on the latest government advice, “with a view to extending the current suspension on a rolling four-week basis”.
BD chief executive Jason Brautigam said: “I’d like to thank all our members for their support during these uncertain and challenging times. Our priority has to be supporting the management of the pandemic by taking socially responsible action to contain further spread of the virus. Understandably members will be disappointed with these cancellations – and, at this stage, it’s too early to determine what competitions could potentially be rescheduled or when the sport is able to resume.
“We’ll keep everyone updated regularly on our contingency plans as the lockdown continues, so activity can restart as and when the restrictions are lifted. However, realistically this could continue for some time yet, so in the meantime we all have a role to play in adhering to social distancing measures and following the official advice on horse care during this difficult period.”
BS chief executive Iain Graham added: “The showjumping community has been incredibly supportive and we’re grateful for their backing, despite facing their own challenges, as we all work to combat the virus. Making any decision to cancel events is always difficult, but we have to help our organisers and venues to stay solvent so that the resources and facilities are there when sporting action can resume. I would urge everyone to strictly follow the government guidelines, as we all want our sport, livelihoods and daily lives to return to normal as quickly as possible.”
British Eventing (BE) chief executive Jude Matthews said the team is focusing on “ensuring we are in a position to get the sport going as soon as we are able to do so”.
She added that BE is “discussing alternatives” for championships and will update members as soon as possible, while all BE training booked for April will be refunded.
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“While we know that many are keen to keep training, we are unable to facilitate training for groups for at least the next three weeks whilst we are ‘locked down’, and we are conscious that many will not be working their horses in the same way and will need time to ramp back up the work again once restrictions are lifted,” Ms Matthews said.
The BE team is working remotely, and using the time to catch up with work such as the backlog from the implementation of the BE website and the entries, admin, results and scoring programme.
“As you would expect, we are also looking closely at our cost base, and have taken steps to remove any unnecessary costs from the business,” she said. “We are in uncertain times and know that many of you are also facing challenges.
“The government is issuing guidance regularly regarding help available to both businesses and those who are self employed, and we will continue to monitor what help is available to help any of us in the sport.
“In these difficult times I wish you well in the days ahead.”
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