‘Public health must be priority’: Coronavirus wreaks havoc on European shows

  • The final Western European World Cup dressage qualifier and the opening 2020 leg of the Rolex Grand Slam of Showjumping, at ’s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands, is to be held behind closed doors due to measures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

    The organisers of The Dutch Masters show (12-15 March), which would ordinarily attract around 65,000 people, initially planned to limit the number of spectators after the local North Brabant authorities cancelled events with more than 1,000 visitors.

    But yesterday (Wednesday, 11 March) they went one step further and announced that the event would not be open to the public at all. The competition itself will go ahead, although national classes have been cancelled.

    “The sport takes central stage at The Dutch Masters and the competitions are of great importance to the riders with a qualification for the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping and the FEI Dressage World Cup. Since the first release we spoke to all involved: the riders, the sports federations and partners. They all support the sport and want the competitions to take place,” read a statement from the event. There are currently more than 500 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus in the Netherlands.

    Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin has two horses competing at the show — her world bronze medallist Mount St John Freestyle, with whom she is hoping to confirm her place at April’s World Cup final in Las Vegas, and nine-year-old Gio, who will be contesting his first international in the CDI3*.

    She will be joined by Lottie Fry, competing Everdale in the World Cup qualifier and Dark Legend at CDI3* level, and Richard Davison, riding Bubblingh in the CDI3*.

    “Public health must always be the first priority and I commend the organising committee for putting that first,” Richard told H&H. “It is very hard on them, especially when the whole set-up is prepared to perfection.

    “It won’t make any difference to our performances as we riders are always focused on our horses and when you are doing a test you are unaware if there are five or 5,000 spectators. It’s also brilliant of the class sponsors to continue their support and I’m sure all my fellow riders appreciate that as much as I do.

    Continues below…

    “The monitoring of human health among riders, grooms and officials is ongoing with temperature and other checks. The organisers are being very diligent.”

    Scott Brash is Britain’s sole entrant in the Rolex CSI5*. He is entered on three horses: Hello Franklin, Hello Vincent and Hello Jefferson.

    The CDI Dortmund in Germany will go ahead this weekend, but will be capped at 1,000 visitors. Currently there are more than 1,900 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Germany.

    This follows the cancellation of several major events in Asia last month.

    Would you like to read Horse & Hound’s independent journalism without any adverts? Join Horse & Hound Plus today and you can read all articles on HorseandHound.co.uk completely ad-free

    You may like...