Milton Keynes to run its final horse trials

  • Popular competition venue Milton Keynes Eventing Centre will run its final horse trials this year.

    The owners, Fiona and Stephen Gifkins, who have organised events there for 13 years, have applied for a wind turbine on the cross-country course. The centre was put up for sale in 2010, but no buyer was found.

    “There will be no more horse trials from 2015,” confirmed Mrs Gifkins. “We want an alternative income from the farm and a turbine is much more financially viable. We’ve always been very hands-on and now we’d love to have time to go eventing ourselves.”

    Mrs Gifkins promised a “jam-packed” schedule for this year, including 3 British Eventing (BE) horse trials and 2 unaffiliated three-day events.

    Rosemary Bennett, who runs an equestrian centre in Worcestershire, said she was “devastated”. Her son Sam has won at the three-day event 3 times and she always sends 2 teams from her centre.

    “It’s the highlight of our year, something we all aim towards,” she said. “It’s a great incentive for less experienced riders to taste eventing.”

    Olympic rider Vittoria Panizzon is also a regular at Milton Keynes.

    “The classes are encouraging for youngsters, with flat arenas and good going,” she said.

    Three-star eventer Colina Pickles will miss the venue too.

    “What a shame,” she said. “The cross-country is true-run in distance, terrain and obstacles and my horses come away confident.”

    Philip Surl, BE eastern regional coordinator, added: “While it is sad to lose such a popular event, we will put in place plans to replace this important venue.”

    The livery yard will continue as normal, alongside the training and camp business.

    This article was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (13 February 2014)

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