One of the private driving calendar’s three major end-of-season championships has been cancelled this year following the closure of its host venue.
Organisers of the Victoria Foods Carriage Driving Extravaganza have been searching for new premises to host the show since The Hand EC in Clevedon ceased trading in December last year.
Show director Dave Hunter-Thomson said a fruitless six-month search had left them with no choice but to cancel the 2015 event.
“We looked at more than 40 showgrounds to try and find something along the same lines as The Hand that was available on those dates, as we have just the one window in September that doesn’t clash with other shows,” said Mr Hunter-Thomson. “It’s a big show that requires quite a lot of space.
“While we weren’t able to find anything for this year, the show will return on the 9-11 September 2016.”
Confirmation of next year’s venue, which will be in Somerset, is expected within the next month.
Two Victoria Foods titles will still be handed out in 2015, after the Royal County of Berkshire Show agreed to host the exercise and pleasure driving and private driving championships.
The classes will take place on Saturday, 19 September, the day before the show’s own private driving programme.
Anyone who has qualified for these championships between 14 September 2014 and 6 September 2015 will be eligible to enter.
“We hope that people who come to do the championship will stay on overnight and enter the classes at Newbury on the Sunday,” said Mr Hunter-Thomson.
“All driving competitors will have free access to the showground.”
Last year’s private driving champ Jessie Dudley-Apicella said: “It’s a really fun show and one we always look forward to.
“I’m probationary judging at Newbury so as long as there’s no clash I’ll be there to defend the title. It’s nice that the Royal County of Berkshire Show have accommodated it.
“I hope missing a year doesn’t kill the show and they have to build it back up again. Competitors need to make sure they get behind it next year. We’ll always be there to support it as long as we can.”