The 2008 British Show Pony Society (BSPS) Summer Championships are moving to Arena UK in Grantham, after 35 years at the East of England Showground, Peterborough.
Last weekend, BSPS members were told the Society did not take the decision to switch venues lightly. However, concerns were expressed by BSPS personnel over the viability of the new East of England Equifest Show — organised by the East of England Agricultural Society (EEAS) and incorporating showing, jumping, dressage and driving — running concurrently with the BSPS’s championships.
Equifest is destined to run from 15 August to 7 September and the BSPS championships is scheduled for 20-23 August.
“Peterborough has been an excellent venue over the years, but we feared escalating costs of hiring the new exhibition hall, combined with Equifest, and a show within the grounds just prior to our event, meant that the identity and control of the BSPS’s flagship show could be compromised,” said new BSPS chairman Alan Hall.
EEAS chief executive Andrew Mercer is saddened by the decision.
He said: “Our showground staff have worked hard with BSPS to make their shows successful. We have had open discussions regarding finances, and we were confident that Equifest would offer excellent value to their members.
“We have made a huge investment in our exhibition centre, and are very excited about running Equifest.
“We were looking for the BSPS to be an important part of this inaugural equestrian extravaganza, and we thought they were equally enthusiastic. Sadly, I think we have been condemned by what they fear, rather than what we’ve done.”
So far, there has been a positive reaction to the news from BSPS members.
Leading producer Julie Templeton, who took 28 ponies and 20 riders to the 2007 Summer Championships, said: “There’s always a certain amount of sadness in moving away from a venue you are used to, but if we do have to move, let’s make the best of it. We all enjoyed the 2007 Winter Championships at Arena UK, the site was compact, and the rings were superb.”