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Necarne Castle Cancels
Irvinestown, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland
by Jean Mitchell, Event Director

After 15 wonderful years of International Horse Trials at Necarne Castle, the Organising Committee has regretfully decided that, for financial reasons, this event cannot run in 2010.

Having successfully hosted FEI European Eventing Championships at Young Rider (1999) and Junior (2006) levels, and the Pony European Championships in Dressage, Eventing and Jumping in 2003, as well as two FEI Level 2 "Educational Seminars" it would seem that there are not now the numbers of competitors which are required to make this event financially viable, in the present economic climate.

To illustrate this point, with entry figures for the years 2008 and 2009: In 2008 there were a total of 256 entries in 5 classes, made up of 29 Ponies (11 British): 28 Juniors (11 British): 99 CCI* (29 Non Irish): 69 CCI** (47 Non Irish): 31 CIC** (12 Non Irish).

So 110 entries were Non Irish - approximately 47%, and 3 Cross Country Courses had to be prepared.

In 2009 we added an extra class - CIC* - to attract more Irish entries, and still finished with a total of 171 entries in 6 classes: 26 Ponies (12 British): 26 Juniors (11 British): 39 CCI* (3 Non Irish): 31 CCI** (14 Non Irish): CIC** (3 Non Irish) and also 30 CIC*(All Irish).

So 43 entries were Non Irish - approximately 25% - of a much reduced total entry, and 4 Cross Country Courses had to be prepared.

This was an overall drop of 94 entries (and of course a serious drop in income from entry fees) in one year, and although the hard working committee made stringent efforts to cut costs, 2009 has left a serious deficit in the accounts.

For the past 3 years, sponsorship has virtually "dried up", and we have been working on the "good will" of many of our suppliers. In 2009 they gallantly continued to support us, by reducing their fees, when they saw that we were likely to have a shortfall in the income.

However, without a viable number of total entries, and knowing that British Eventing have now approved a CCNP** class at Weston Park at the beginning of October for their ponies, which like their Juniors and Seniors, will mean much less expensive travelling costs, we cannot see that the position will be any better (and probably worse) in 2010.

Throughout the last 15 years, the Organising Committee has had the amazing support of the councillors and staff of Fermanagh District Council along with the Head of Enniskillen Campus and his staff, at the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE). Between them they made sure that we had every possible facility, and help, to present Necarne Castle year after year, in pristine condition, enabling us to run world class International events.

This was particularly so in the early days of the event, when we realised that the Fermanagh 'grassland' was not going to stand up to the rigours of many horses galloping over cross country and steeplechase courses - in September each year.

When we explained to Fermanagh District Council that we would require "all weather" Cross Country and Steeplechase courses (to compliment the other 'all weather' surfaces in the Walled Garden, etc.) they immediately agreed. We believe that this had never been done before anywhere in the world, so this was a pioneering venture, but well researched by one of the FDC staff (and also our most "dedicated" committee member) Mr David Morrison - and the courses that are still in use today, are a testament to that excellent decision, and their serious financial investment!

We have also had the support of many wonderful sponsors from the private sector, and we want to express our sincere gratitude to each and every one of them.

Last, but certainly not least, the Organising Committee would like to thank the "Necarne Castle Volunteers" - of which there are many hundreds - who have dedicated their time and energy to ensuring that Necarne Castle International Horse Trials have been run professionally, efficiently and, most importantly, with a warm and friendly atmosphere, for the past 15 years.

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