THE owner of a leading British equestrian venue has voiced his fears for the sport's future in Wales after being hit by legislation that has meant the 108-acre facility remaining closed.

The David Broome Event Centre at Crick near Chepstow has been shut since early March, initially due do nationwide restrictions imposed amid the coronavirus pandemic, with numerous high-profile showjumping events being subsequently cancelled.

But realistic hopes to reopen this month have now been unexpectedly dashed, with the prestigious Home Pony International, which annually attracts more than 1,000 visitors and was scheduled to take place later this week, being called off.

Centre boss James Broome, son of former world showjumping champion and double Olympic medallist David Broome, has written to Monmouthshire MP David Davies in an attempt to resolve an alarming situation.

An on-line petition, meanwhile, has attracted close to 4,000 signatures in less than 48 hours as the equestrian world rallies behind the Broome family and a venue that regularly attracts riders from showjumping's elite to grassroots talent.

The maximum capacity of outdoor sporting venues in Wales is currently strictly limited to just 30 people.

However, at the same David Broome Event Centre's licensed clubhouse, there is no limit to the number of people that could sit outside drinking beer.

There are only two full months of the season left, and James has called on Welsh Government chiefs to change current rules that allow businesses and clubs to operate outdoor sporting activity in a safe manner, but with the limit of 30 people removed and decided instead by relevant risk assessment.

South Wales Argus:

James (pictured above, right) said: "This legislation must be changed soon. There is a limited number of months in our country where people will want spend the day outside, and if these regulations are not lifted in the next few weeks, there will be no summer left.

"Many people in the equestrian world, such as grooms, vets, farriers, trainers, coaches, livery yard owners and producers, depend on these events to stimulate the equestrian world.

"We must act soon before the industry collapses.

"The maximum capacity of beer gardens in Wales are set by the venue's risk assessment.

"In contrast, equestrian sport is a non-contact individual activity, with known physical and mental health benefits.

"Keeping a horse or pony ensures daily physical exercise, usually outdoors, in large spaces. Social distancing at these spacious locations is extremely easy."

Following the lifting of other restrictions in Wales - namely a five-mile travel limit and the reopening of caravan parks - permission was given by British Showjumping earlier this month for events to resume at the David Broome Event Centre.

But those hopes were then dashed following a video conference call with Monmouthshire County Council officials.

"I do not believe that riders attending a horse show in a large outdoor space fits within the definition of a 'gathering'," said Broome.

"What is even more frustrating is that venues like ours in England are now running shows with lots of people.

"Our customer base, that we have diligently built up in our family business over the past 50 years, are now travelling to England to participate in these events."