When Horse & Hound’s Pippa Roome came to interview me last month, she asked me what my biggest dread was. My answer? Cancellation. It was soon after that things moved very swiftly for the whole country and, a fortnight ago, we realised we were in real trouble.
In my 45 years here, I have been through the distress of the cancellation process five times — including in 2001 for foot-and-mouth and in 2012 after endless rain — and know how devastating it is for so many people, but this time we are part of a much bigger international picture. There are far more serious issues out there.
Still, for some riders, competing at Badminton is a one-off, lifetime ambition; for others, it is the key to selection and, with the postponement of the Olympic Games, it is inevitable that for some riders and horses, their moment will have gone. It is very hard for them and their owners.
It is, of course, tough for Andrew and I to have this happen in our first year, but that is nothing compared to the serious knock-on effect it will have on our loyal tradestands and sponsors, not to mention all the local businesses, such as B&Bs, pubs, shops and garages, and the self-employed who depend on Badminton for a chunk of income — it is all these people for whom I feel so desperately sorry.
I would like to thank everyone, including the brilliant team at Badminton, for the wonderful support I have had in the last year and to reassure you that we are already working towards bringing an even better event to you in 2021.
In the meantime, here’s hoping that something can be retrieved of the 2020 eventing season for everyone’s sake.
Keep safe and well,