Badminton Horse Trials, which was one of the highest-profile victims of 2020’s rejigged calendar, has announced its intention to run behind closed doors in 2021 as the COVID-19 pandemic shows no signs of abating.
“After much deliberation the decision has been taken to run Badminton Horse Trials 2021 event “Behind Closed Doors” but with the potential to include a limited number of spectators should, come the spring, guidelines/restrictions allow us to do so,” said Badminton’s team in a statement released on Tuesday. “All will be under constant review in the coming months and we will keep our loyal supporters and the eventing community posted with latest news and developments throughout the coming months via the Director’s blog and our social media handles and website. Our overriding priority will continue to be the health and safety of all those involved in staging the event.”
The 2021 event will run from May 5–9, 2021, and will be the first running of the CCI5* competition under its new dual sponsorship of Mars Equestrian and Science Supplements. No news has thus far been released on the fate of the Science Supplements Cup, colloquially known as Badminton Grassroots, which stages a championship competition for BE90 and BE100 riders.
Badminton’s expansive shopping village, which is a highlight of the trading year for many exhibitors, will not be part of the restricted and reduced event plan, though keen shoppers can venture online to check out the directory of brands ordinarily in situ at the competition.
Jane Tuckwell, director of the event, said in the statement: “We realise that this is not the scenario everyone would wish for but feel by announcing our intentions now it will give all involved in whatever capacity the opportunity to plan accordingly. To deliver the “Behind Closed Doors” event will not be without its challenges, but we look forward to bringing you a great competition in partnership with Science Supplements and Mars Equestrian.”
Long-time competitor and two-time victor William Fox-Pitt applauded the choice. “It is fantastic news that Badminton is planning to run next season in these challenging circumstances. To lose this prestigious event again would be a terrible disappointment and the eventing world will get behind Jane and her team to make this happen. For sure it will be a very different Badminton.”
Plans are well underway to ensure that fans don’t miss a moment of this spectator-heavy favourite, with an all-inclusive streaming service in the works. Hoping to catch the event from afar? Make your voice — and needs — heard with this quick survey, which will help the Badminton team create a package that best suits what you want. The survey will remain open until November 6.