Popular competition centre closes

  • The Hand Equestrian Centre (HEC), near Bristol has closed its doors — cancelling all planned competition dates.

    On Wednesday 17 December the centre’s Emily Davies revealed that the Clevedon venue would cease to trade with immediate effect.

    The news comes just two weeks before the popular New Year ding-dong show, and ahead of key qualifier dates including British Showjumping (BS) pony premiers in January and February 2015.

    In a statement, the Hand’s owner Nick Davies said the announcement was made with “a heavy heart and great sadness”, and he thanked staff and sponsors for their contributions over the years.

    Explaining the family’s reasons for the decision, he said: “You will all be aware that for years HEC has not been able to make enough money to pay its way through equestrian activities alone, but we have always managed to make up the shortfall.

    “It has been our challenge over the years to try and diversify the business, and find new sources of income that complement HEC horse activities to ensure its continued future.”

    He added that it was “no secret” that he had met with “fierce resistance” to any and all of these proposals.

    “Even now, HEC is under enforcement action from North Somerset council to stop holding its car boot sales on a Saturday and events like the Zero to Hero white collar boxing, all of which helped in some small way to keep the centre going. Unfortunately the time is now upon us when we have to do something different,” he said.

    “We have agonised over this decision but are faced now with no alternative but to close the centre and put the property up for sale.”

    The Davies family bought the centre eight years ago and invested in developing the facilities into an Olympic-approved venue.

    British Showjumping said they were still waiting to hear from The Hand about the situation, and were not yet able to comment on where and when events might be relocated.

    This is the second showjumping venue to be lost this month. Earlier in December it was revealed that Kingsbarn, near Falkirk, had been placed into provisional administration, and that all showjumping shows had been reallocated (news, 25 December).

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