AFTER an almost continuous run of more than ten years, the 2013 National Horse Driving Championships will move from Queen Victoria’s Review Ground at Windsor Great Park to the Ashfields Carriage and Polo Club at Great Canfield in Essex.
The announcement has been made following the latest British Horse Driving Trials Association Council meeting this month.
BHDTA Chairman, Jock McFarlane, said: “It was inevitable that in the ongoing economic climate, with the National Championships becoming financially unsustainable in recent years, a move would have to happen.
“Our membership raised concerns over the situation at the AGM in November and since then Council has been seeking a solution. We are indebted to our patron, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, and estate employees at the Royal Park for all their help and assistance in our time there, but the Championships does have to be a viable event.
“The BHDTA wish to express their thanks to all the past Windsor organisers, and in particular Rita Bundock, who tried valiantly to make the event sustainable, despite rising costs and diminishing sponsorship in the current economic climate.”
Several offers had been received to host the championships, including Ashfields, and the matter was discussed at length. When a vote took place, Wilf Bowman-Ripley, council member and manager of Ashfields, left the room and was delighted when he was later informed his venue had been chosen.
He has undertaken to run the 2013 championships at his own financial risk and a decision on a more permanent venue from 2014 onwards, which may or may not be Ashfields, will be taken by the council following this year’s event in September.
The championships have been held at Windsor for a total of 30 years, from 1978. In 1999 they were at St. Fort in Scotland and in 2000 at Cirencester.
The 2001 Championships were cancelled due to Foot & Mouth disease. Other venues included Goodwood (1977) and Harrogate (1986)
Four-in-Hand, Pairs and Singles classes have been held since 1975, with Tandems joining in 1976. Intermediate and Advanced Singles classes started in 2007 and Advanced Pairs in 2009. The Novice Championships joined the Nationals in 1982.