Burghley, Gatcombe latest Covid-19 casualties on British horse trials calendar

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Burghley winner Pippa Funnell receives her price from Sophie, Countess of Wessex.
Burghley winner Pippa Funnell receives her prize from Sophie, Countess of Wessex, after taking out the 2019 event on MGH Grafton Street. © Mike Bain

Burghley Horse Trials organisers are vowing to deliver a “spectacular event” in 2022, after the cancellation of the popular British event for the second year running.

Despite the continued easing of Covid-19 lockdown measures in Britain, the nationwide vaccination programme and the hope within the Government Roadmap for unlocking the country, there have been and remain too many variables and uncertainties due to the Covid-19 pandemic to deliver the event, director Elizabeth Inman said.

“We have, throughout the last six months, striven to find an event scenario which would allow our competitors, followers, exhibitors and contractors to enjoy this annual sporting highlight,” she said.

This year’s event was scheduled for September 2 to 5. Burghley was first run 60 years ago, in 1961, which was during an outbreak of foot and mouth disease. It was won by Anneli Drummond-Hay riding Merely A Monarch.

Inman said preparations to stage the competition were ongoing from each event to the next, and any decisions about the event had to be made months in advance because of contractual cancellation procedures. She said the financial implications of cancellation of an event the size of Burghley at a late stage, “without available pandemic insurance, are too great to risk for all involved”.

Miranda Rock, President of Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, said the decision to cancel was made with “a very heavy heart”.

”I am deeply sorry for everyone whose hopes have been dashed — from the equestrian world internationally to the pony clubs nationally, for the people of Stamford and our neighbouring communities, as well as our wonderful suppliers, supporters, retailers, staff and visitors who will not be able to enjoy this glorious event in September,” she said.

”The horse trials is an incredibly important part of what we do here at Burghley and is the highlight of the year for all those who live and work here.”

Gatcombe Magic Millions cancelled

Organisers announced late last month that “with huge regret” the Magic Millions Festival of British Eventing scheduled for August 6 to 8 at Gatcombe Park has been cancelled.

Event director Peter Phillips, whose parents, Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, and Captain Mark Phillips started eventing in Gatcombe Park in 1983, said the financial risk of committing to an occasion of such magnitude and infrastructure during a pandemic was too great.

“We had desperately hoped that we would be able to pull off the 2021 Festival because we know how much everyone was looking forward to it,” Phillips said.

“This has been an extremely difficult decision, but the situation with the pandemic is still too volatile. In these restricted circumstances, the event simply isn’t viable, and nor could we guarantee that it would be good value for the competitors, spectators, trade stands and loyal sponsors who normally make The Festival such a great occasion. We also very much looked forward to hosting the Pony Club Championship for the first time at Gatcombe Park.”

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