THIS year’s Badminton Horse Trials have become the latest sporting event to fall at the hands of the coronavirus outbreak.

The event had been scheduled for May 6-10 this year.

Earlier in the week organisers had said plans were continuing while other sports began to close down.

However, on Friday afternoon and with new goverment advice, they made the decision to cancel the Trials for this year.

A statement said: “Following the Government’s COVID-19 public health restrictions and its statement that emergency services are withdrawn from supporting mass gatherings from Tuesday 17th March, we are sorry to announce it is no longer possible to stage Badminton Horse Trials between the 6th and 10th May in any capacity.

“This cancellation also includes the Science Supplements Cup.

“This is an unprecedented and challenging time for everyone and the health and safety of all those that attend and are involved with Badminton remains our number one priority.

“Please be assured that Badminton Horse Trials operates a refund policy and we will be in contact shortly with more information on how these will be processed accordingly.

“We apologise for the delay in making this announcement but are grateful to our insurance brokers and underwriters for their support and co-operation at this busy time.

“Badminton Horse Trials would like to take this opportunity to thank and wish all of the athletes (human and equine), sponsors, exhibitors, supporters and volunteers well through this challenging time.

“We look forward to welcoming everyone back to the 2021 event.”

The equestrian bonanza, based just across the North Wiltshire border in Gloucestershire, brings tens of millions of pounds into the surrounding economy.

Badminton brings in almost 200,000 visitors every year, many of whom spend their money on food, accomodation and entertainment in regional towns and villages.

Businesses in Malmesbury alone would collectively expect their busiest period of the year to coincide with the event.

Only twice since the turn of the millennium has the event been cancelled, most recently in 2012 due to wet weather.

That cost the rural economy as a whole an estimated £30million.