Organisers of Allerton Park Horse Trials are looking forward to a special celebration of 25 years in 2021

Organisers of Allerton Park Horse Trials announced the September event has been cancelled this year.

Olympic rider and course designer at Allerton Park Horse Trials, Ian Stark

It was a decision the committee said was taken with “huge regret” but said it was felt the Covid-19 restrictions would make it “impossible” to deliver the hospitality and safety the event is known for.

The popular horse trials take place over two days towards the end of the season in the spectacular lakeside setting of Allerton Park near Knaresborough.

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But now Lady Nell Mowbray who, along with John Johnstone and their committee organise the event, said everyone has their eyes firmly fixed on next year’s event.

“It will be our 25th anniversary in 2021 and after missing this year it will make it a really special event.”

The horse trials have become an important date in the eventing calendar with around 500 riders taking part and more than 2,500 spectators.

The event has grown over the years having started under the guidance of Lord Mowbray as a BE100 event.

Lady Mowbray took over the reins a few years later getting a committee together with lots of experience in horse trials.

Under their leadership the horse trails has developed adding novice, intermediate and later advanced tracks across the 250 acres of parkland.

The advanced course, which is designed to prepare riders for international competition, was added when Olympic event rider Ian Stark joined the team in 2010.

“Ian had been riding at the trials and won a prize. He was just starting out as a course designer and when I asked him if he would come on board he jumped at the chance. It all fitted together at the right time,” Lady Mowbray said.

As well as Allerton Park, the Olympic event rider designs the courses for Bramham International Horse Trials just along the A1 at Wetherby.

“Ian was keen to bring in the advanced track,” Lady Mowbray said.

Adding it would be nice to go even further with what the horse trials offers but it would be difficult as the parkland is also in agricultural use.

“We are restricted as to how many events we could hold at different times of the year.”

But Lady Mowbray said she was pleased it had grown organically and had developed a reputation for being friendly and welcoming.

Described as the little show with a big show atmosphere, it has gained plaudits from the Event Riders Association for the “excellent” dressage arenas and Lady Mowbray said they have an excellent medical team which has been commended by British Eventing.

“We have a very good medical team and their concerns about how it would run under the guidelines played a big part in our decision to cancel this year.”

Before making the final decision to cancel, preparations were beginning to get underway with Ian Stark travelling down from his base in Scotland to look at changes they may make on the course.

The event takes months of preparation and which Lady Mowbray said could not be done without the team of volunteers who help with everything from jump painting to roping off dressage arenas and putting together judging packs. Around 200 people are involved in making the event happen.

“Our team of volunteers are fantastic and not being able to look after them the way we normally do with things like lunch and tea runs was another factor in our decision.”

The event also has a number of loyal sponsors who have supported the event for a number of years.

“We work hard to make it an hospitable event which I think the sponsors – and riders – appreciate. One of our sponsors comes over from Ireland every year which is lovely.

“We always want it to be a friendly event, that is very important to us all. We are not an international event although we do attract some riders from overseas.”

While the biggest names may not always be taking part, particularly as Allerton Park competes on the calendar with Blenheim Horse Trials in Oxfordshire, it has seen a few Olympic riders striking out across the parkland.

Northallerton-based London 2012 silver medallist Nicola Wilson has competed a number of times. Her 2012 team mate Zara Tindall has also competed as well as Ian Stark. Team GB High Performance Eventing coach and MD of the Yorkshire Riding Centre, Christopher Bartle, often brings a group of riders.

There had been plans to do something special for this year but Lady Mowbray said the wet weather over the winter had meant they couldn’t get on the land at all.

“It does mean we can get every-thing ready for next year and make it a really special event and we are all looking forward to it,” she said.