British ‘Spring’ Continues to Wreak Havoc as Rockingham International Abandons

Photo by Adam Fanthorpe/Rockingham International Horse Trials.

2023 is turning into the season-that-wasn’t for British Eventing members, as prolonged rainfall since March continues to wreak havoc on the fixtures list. The latest — and thus far most high-profile — event to pull the plug is the Fairfax & Favor Rockingham International Horse Trials, set to take place this week and host national classes from BE100 to Advanced Intermediate, including a class for seven-year-olds, and international classes at CCI2*-S and CCI3*-S.

In a statement on their social media, Rockingham’s organisers said:

“It is with great regret that due to the prolonged adverse weather all competition at the Fairfax & Favor Rockingham International Horse Trials, scheduled to run from 18-21 May, has been abandoned.

Despite a positive drying forecast the site, including the ground for all three phases, has not dried sufficiently to allow the event to proceed in a safe manner and the devastating decision has been made to abandon the event.

Information on entries and ticket refunds will follow shortly.”

“We are absolutely devasted that this call had to be made,” said Horse Trials organiser, Lizzie Saunders Watson. “But the safety of horses and riders is paramount. We were conscious that the weather was against us and had been taking every precaution we could to enable the event to run. Tracking has been installed for vehicle access and our stabling and marquee suppliers have gone above and beyond to get the infrastructure set up on extremely challenging ground.

 “Despite these best efforts, the biggest test was always going to be whether the ground was going to be safe for our competitors. A full ground inspection took place this morning with FEI and British Eventing officials. This included test runs with a horse and rider in all warmup areas, all arenas and the cross county course. Following this, we were told that it would not be safe to run.

 “We are working with our insurers to establish next steps in terms of refunds and will be in touch with everyone as soon as we know more. As you can imagine, this is a huge task to undertake so please bear with us.”

This is the tenth British Eventing competition to be fully abandoned so far this season, though several further events have also suffered partial abandonments — and while some of those partial abandonments have included international classes, such as Chatsworth’s CCI2*, this is the first outright cancellation of an international event in 2023.

British Eventing has also made a statement on its website, saying: “We understand that the abandonment of the FEI classes at Chatsworth International and Rockingham International is both disappointing and frustrating as it means yet another event has become a victim of the prolonged adverse weather conditions.

We also appreciate, that for many of you, these will have been key opportunities to gain MERs or educational runs for your horses and therefore British Eventing is currently looking at alternative opportunities to add International classes into the calendar. Any additions would be subject to FEI approval.

We will of course keep you updated as and when any plans have been confirmed however, in the meantime, we want to reassure you that we are doing our best to work with Organisers in replacing these valuable lost MER opportunities where possible.”

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