The organiser of Belton Horse Trials said the news the event has run for the final time is “absolutely devastating” for the sport.
Property owner the National Trust announced today (30 April) that the March fixture will no longer be hosted at Belton House, as “the growth in scale of the event is unfortunately now at odds with the conservation management of the Grade I-listed parkland we care for”.
Stuart Buntine, of Bede Events which has run Belton for the past 15 years, told H&H he knew nothing of the decision until yesterday.
“It came completely out of the blue, we had absolutely no prior knowledge,” he said.
“I had a meeting with them yesterday, after this year’s event, and was told about it then. After 40 years of horse trials there; it was a real shock.
“It’s devastating, and absolutely devastating for the sport.”
Mr Buntine described Belton as “probably one of the most critical venues for the sport”, adding that for the past few years, when adverse weather conditions have hit other fixtures, Belton has always gone ahead.
“We’ve always provided the staging post for Badminton,” he added. “It’s absolutely critical for the sport that we find a replacement.
“There’s other venues out there and I’m sure there are opportunities. We’re very much on the look-out as it’s an established event with a huge following.”
The National Trust’s Ian Cooper, Belton House general manager, said: “We recognise the significance of the horse trials and their place in Belton’s recent history, and have therefore not come to this decision lightly.
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“The core purpose of the National Trust is to protect this historic place for future generations, and we must honour that commitment.”
The trust added that the growth in size and scale of the event was having a “cumulative impact on the conservation of the historic parkland”, including damage to earthworks and buried archaeology, soil compaction, and detrimental effects to trees and their roots.
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