Future of Belton House International Trials in doubt

The National Trust has announced that Belton Park International Horse Trials will no longer be hosted at Belton House.

After a valued partnership of 15 years with BEDE Events, the trust confirmed that the event, which is a popular fixture on the British Eventing calendar and seen as a traditional warm up for Spring CCI5*-L competitions, had been held for the last time.

Belton Horse Trials started in the late 1970s as an event hosted and organised by the Brownlow family, the historic family at Belton House. The National Trust was later gifted Belton House by the Brownlow family in 1983. BEDE Events has been the main organiser of the competition since 2004, and the size and scale of the Belton Horse Trials have grown significantly over this time.

In a statement on its website, the National Trust said: “The growth in scale of the event is unfortunately now at odds with the conservation management of the Grade 1 listed parkland we care for; preventing risks to the historic earthworks and buried archaeology through compaction and erosion, to the parkland wildlife, and to veteran trees and their root systems. We recognise the significance of the Horse Trials and their place in Belton’s recent history and have therefore not come to this decision lightly. The core purpose of the National Trust is to protect this historic place for future generations, and we must honour that commitment.”

The growth in size and scale of the annual event has had a cumulative impact on the conservation of the historic parkland, including damage to earthworks and buried archaeology, soil compaction, and detrimental effects to trees and their roots. As a result of this, a decision has been made to no longer host the Horse Trials at Belton House after the March 2019 event.

BEDE Events has a five-year licence agreement to hold the event at Belton. However, the agreement gives either party the ability to terminate during the fixed term period, subject to certain notice conditions. The National Trust has taken a decision to terminate the agreement due to the cumulative impact the growth of the event has had on the Grade 1 listed parkland.

The National Trust said it hadreviewed other areas of Belton Park to see whether the event could be moved to a less sensitive area. However, all parts of the park which could logistically host the event form part of the registered park and have conservation and archaeological interest. Therefore moving the event will only move the above concerns to another area.

In the British Eventing Strategic Calendar Review, published at the start of April, Belton was slated to host a CCI2*-S, CCI3*-S and CCI4*-S from 2020 to 2025.

BEDE Events has been contacted for a statement.

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