Equestrianism: Hickstead's year in jeopardy

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The Independent Online
The sum of pounds 400,000 will have to be found, in sponsorship or other financial aid, if Douglas Bunn's All-England Show Jumping Course at Hickstead is to hold a single fixture this year. The Nations Cup meeting, scheduled to run from 29 May to 1 June, has already been cancelled. The same fate threatens The Royal International Horse Show (10 to 13 July) and the British Jumping Derby (14 to 17 August).

"In 1996 we had sponsorship of pounds 500,000, but that came to an end just before Christmas," Bunn, who owns Hickstead, said yesterday. Silk Cut, who have terminated their sponsorship deal, made a severence payment of pounds 200,000 but this does not cover running costs which amount to nearly pounds 1m per year. Even if Hickstead remains closed for 1997, maintainance costs would use up the severence payment.

"We asked the Sports Council for pounds 400,000 as a lifeline for 1997. They mentioned pounds 100,000, which would have to be matched by the sport or a sponsor," Bunn, who has dug deep into his own pockets over the years to keep Hickstead going, said.

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