Former champion New Zealand's Jonelle Price is shocked organisers have made the decision to cancel the Badminton Horse Trials for the second straight year in England.
The event from May 5 to 9 is widely regarded as the pinnacle of three-day eventing and is one of six annual horse trials that is graded as CCI5*, the highest level of International Equestrian Federation competition.
Organisers had planned to hold the event behind closed doors and the decision to cancel has stunned Price who was planning on riding her 17-year-old horse Classic Moet, the 2018 champion.
"Yeah, I mean it's come as a shock as they obviously made a commitment before Christmas that they were prepared to run behind closed doors with no crowds, so we certainly didn't see this coming," Price told the Herald from her base in the UK.
"It's come quite late in the piece as horses prepare for an event like Badminton for four to five months, so the horses are well into their preparation. They have started the fitness work and their galloping work so it's unnecessary miles we're putting on these horses to find out such disappointing news at late stage in the piece," Price lamented.
"I just spoke with the director (Jane Tuckwell) today to say I'm pretty disappointed and the main concern they seem to have is being able to secure the site It's so huge and they had serious concerns about being able to keep spectators out."
Despite the disappointment, Price is confident the setback won't affect New Zealand's preparations for the Tokyo Olympics in July.
"I mean luckily for team NZ we are trying not to make Badminton our final preparation. The weather here can be quite unpredictable obviously the English spring can be beautiful, or you can be in a foot of mud and for those reasons we were opting to try and avoid it because it won't hold too much relevance to what we're going to get in Tokyo if we have a bad year.
"So hopefully it's not too disruptive for our preparations but I know the likes of the Brits were definitely lining up Badminton as their final preparation so for some of the countries it will be more damaging than it is for us," Price said.
The Badminton Horse Trials have been running since 1949 and this is the seventh time they have not been held. They were cancelled in 1966, 1975, 1987 and 2012 due to the weather and in 2001 because of the foot and mouth epidemic.
The other five-star events on the calendar are the Burghley Horse Trials, the Kentucky Three-Day event in the United States, the Australian International Three-Day event, the Luhmuhlen Horse Trials in Germany, and the Stars of Pau in France.
Price will now target Kentucky in late April which she says was initially cancelled but has been reinstated.
"There was a huge backlash from the riders and it's now back on so at least we have got something to look forward to and personally I'm hoping to take a couple of horses over there."
Price is also hopeful that Burghley may go ahead in September with the vaccine roll out in the UK likely to be complete.
"September is a long way away and I think early June is when the UK is expecting to be back to something close to normal so even then I think we've got a bit of breathing space between June and Burghley, but it is critical for the sport now because we've lost some pretty big majors in the last 18 months.
"I know its only sport but it's a lot of people's livelihood and there are a lot of horses and one of mine is nearly 18 (Classic Moet) and she just deserves one more crack at it and you just don't know how many more chances they're going to get so the pandemic has not been good for her."