“We Are Not Prepared to Jeopardise Trust”: Popular International Fixture Bows out of British Calendar

Camilla Speirs and BT Border Bandit at Somerford Park back in 2012. Photo by Nico Morgan.

There’s further bad news on the airwaves for British eventers, as Somerford International Horse Trials has opted to cancel its early summer fixture, citing British Eventing’s abandonment insurance process as its primary concern in this tricky year.

Abandonment insurance, which was previously provided through British Eventing and included in entries as standard, was scrapped for cost-saving reasons after meetings in the off-season between 2021 and 2022, and now, organisers can choose to take out their own policy and offer refunds in the event of a cancellation, or run without abandonment insurance and offer minimum terms on refunds — a position that some event organisers have found fiscally untenable.

Somerford International Horse Trials was set to take place from June 30 – July 2, with entries due to open on Monday, May 22. The Cheshire fixture was to host national classes from BE100 to Intermediate, and international classes at CCI2*-S and CCI3*-S.

The statement, posted by Somerford’s organising team on social media, reads as follows.

“It is with great consideration and regret that we are cancelling Somerford International Horse Trials 2023. We have come to this decision for the following reasons, firstly and most concerning is the Insurance situation, Somerford is not prepared to run without abandonment insurance including the adverse weather policy.

“Having built up a trust with our client base over several years we are not prepared to jeopardise this and leave our clients out of pocket in a challenging economic climate.
We self-insured last year and due to the high volume of cancellations this year the cost for us to insure has escalated by over 100% and is proposed to increase by a further 26% next year.
“Events are now expected to absorb more costs passed on from the governing bodies as well as the escalation in costs to stage an event.
We have always worked at generating sponsorship and have long standing mutually beneficial partnerships which were created to take the event forward, however this sponsorship money has now become the lifeline for the event to run.
“Somerford has always produced the event as a showcase to reflect our business and has not had the expectation of running with financial surplus. We are now looking at the risk of a large financial loss at a level we are not prepared to absorb.
“We would like to thank all of those who have supported Somerford Horse Trials, whether that be as a sponsor, rider, volunteer, trade stand or spectator over the years.We hope this is not the end to eventing at Somerford and that some changes within the governing body can be made to protect and improve the sport we all love.”
British Eventing, who have also been working on fine-tuning Championship qualification processes over the last week to ensure that riders affected by cancellations are able to continue to aim for their original season plans, has confirmed that it will be reviewing the existing insurance arrangements to create a more robust and secure system for organisers and riders alike.
“British Eventing is deeply saddened to hear the news about the cancellation of Somerford Park International Horse Trials and understand that this cancellation on top the recent abandonments at Chatsworth and Rockingham International will be a real concern for Members particularly for those wishing to compete in the FEI classes,” writes the organisation on their website.

“We 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 additional International and National classes into the calendar. Any International 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.

“In addition to this ahead of the 2024 season, and in light of the unprecedented abandonments due to the prolonged adverse weather, British Eventing is also undertaking a full stakeholder review of the existing arrangements in relation to abandonment insurance. An update will be provided to Members once further discussions have concluded.”

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