Where now for Britain?

IN just about a month’s time the whole world will be descending upon Hawkstone Park – well perhaps not the whole world, but at least a significant number of trials fans – who will be at the Shropshire venue for the British round of the World Trials Championship.

Judging from the publicity bumf that is circulating, this will be the “third and final homecoming”, which is a short way of saying that the promotors, Jake Miller and Martin Lampkin, have a three year contract to run at Hawkstone and this is the third and final year.

Now it has to be said that they have done a cracking job. Having spoken to Jake in the past I know that he has travelled the length and breadth of the country looking for suitable venues and apart from Hawkstone he has drawn a blank. So in recent years we have had two great trials at the venue and with a bit of good fortune, the third will be equally successful.

Good luck to them, well done and if they have made a bob or two promoting these three trials, we certainly don’t begrudge them whatever they have made, for they took it upon themselves to carry out what nobody else has been able to achieve.

But if this is the final time L and M promote, where does the sport go from here? Does it mean there is no future for World Championship trials in the UK, or will perhaps another organisation step forward? As far as I can judge only the Isle of Man (promotors this year of the Trial des Nations) seem to be in the position to take it on, and if they decline to undertake it again, what happens next?

The scenario as I see it is pretty grim. If Jake and Martin really have searched high and low throughout the UK – and there’s no reason to suggest otherwise – what chance of anybody else running a World trial.

The problems are manifold. First of all the venue has to be in a location that is sufficiently central to attract a decent sized, paying crowd. These days it has to have every facility you can think of from decent, public toilets to nearby hotels to electrical supplies, quality parking for big vehicles and thousands of spectators’ cars, plus of course suitable terrain for a trial of this stature.

Last week the Westmorland Club held a minor trial on a piece of land they have used in Longsleddale for many years. Now let’s just suppose that Westmorland fancied running a World round. The land they have at Longsleddale is absolutely ideal. It is a steep-sided, rock covered hillside, just about right in size. There are some steep streams, huge waterfalls, massive rocks, in fact everything needed.

The field at the bottom is huge. It’s dead flat, there’s enough room to get all the transporters, spectators’ cars and trade vehicles parked on the one area. In fact at first glance, you couldn’t find a better place. Except there’s absolutely NO WAY you could get the huge trucks that everybody uses down the single tarmac road to the venue, never mind getting electricity and conveniences there.

So an ideal venue is immediately out. And of course, as far as I am aware, Westmorland have no intention of even thinking about taking the job on.

But you see my point. You may well have just about everything needed, then there’s just one thing that puts the kybosh on it. The risk is enormous; before a single spectator has paid to go in the costs are totalling close on £100k, and who is prepared to risk that kind of money?

Which brings us full circle. What happens next? I don’t know and frankly if Jake and Mart pull out, there are no obvious entrepreneurs keen to have a go – well at least as far as I know, though if there is someone, please let me know, in confidence if necessary.

I could continue by saying that the World Championship is dead in this country, but that would be defeatist and I for one look forward to seeing the very best trials riders in action over genuinely natural terrain. Yet will we see it again after July 28/29 this year?

Who knows? Do you know?