Page last updated at 14:46 GMT, Sunday, 5 July 2009 15:46 UK

Rising costs halt riders' event

Virginia McKenna
Virginia McKenna's Born Free charity received 300 in 2008

An annual event attended by hundreds of amateur horseriders on Epsom Downs in Surrey has been cancelled.

Horseman's Sunday celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2008, with actress Virginia McKenna as guest of honour and her Born Free charity the beneficiary.

But Epsom and Ewell Borough Council said it would not be held this year because of rising costs of hosting the day and decreasing attendances.

Organiser Judith Crawford said the decision was made with much sadness.

"For the last few years we have run at a loss," she said.

"Although I am very proud that thanks to the generous sponsorship of local organisations and donations on the day itself, we have always managed to honour our contributions to the chosen charities."

The Born Free Foundations received just under £300 last year.

Ms Crawford said the escalating costs of insurance and road closures had affected the viability of the event as well as dwindling numbers.

The occasion was traditionally held to give thanks for the end of the showing season.

An ecumenical service was held by a minister on horseback, followed by a parade round part of the Epsom Derby course.

Last year, all pet owners were invited to take their animals to the Downs for the first time.

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