The Canadian Professional Chuckwagon Association has pulled out of the 2012 Saskatoon Ex citing safety concerns for its horses.
Bryan Hepson, CPCA marketing manager, said the association’s decision was reached Sunday night – in concert with the riders – after organizers weren’t able to afford them with more room to house their horses properly.
“We weren’t going to sacrifice the safety and well-being of the equine animals,” Hepson said, noting between 250 and 300 thoroughbred horses were expected in Saskatoon.
The CPCA SIGA Pro Tour competition was supposed to begin tonight at Marquis Downs, accompanied by horses and riders from the Prince Albert Professional Chuckwagon and Chariot Association.
Instead, the show will go on using only those from the PAPCCA at 6: 30 p.m.
Brenda Sapergia, Prairieland Park livestock manager, was informed of the CPCA’s decision late Sunday night. While she was disappointed with the outcome, she said she understood the association’s decision to skip the Ex.
The CPCA had to store its horses off-site in 2010 and they were required to rent a gravel lot east of the Western Development Museum last year. Marquis Downs currently lacks auxiliary land because of construction to the South Circle Drive bridge.
Hepson didn’t want to work under either of those scenarios this time, despite Sapergia’s best efforts to convince him otherwise.
“We did absolutely everything we could short of magically producing some more land,” Sapergia said.
Hepson said he only agreed to include the Ex on the association’s 2012 Pro Tour schedule because he was assured more land and parking improvements would be offered. When accommodations couldn’t be made, the CPCA had little choice but to cancel.
“The landscape around Marquis Downs has changed,” Hepson said. “We require a lot of space to safely barn the horses. You can’t have horses standing in knee-deep mud. You can’t have horses standing in gravel. That goes against everything we talk about.”
While Hepson noted that the PAPCCA’s inclusion at the Ex starting three years ago didn’t help the situation, Sapergia said the Prince Albert association is a smaller outfit that only took up minimal space on the opposite side of the park, far away from where the CPCA was stationed.
Under the right circumstances, Sapergia feels both the CPCA and the PAPCCA could have had enough room.
“If the weather held and it was nice and sunny, there was no issue at all,” she said. “If we got any rain, it was going to be nasty. I think they just felt they couldn’t take that chance.”
Instead, the CPCA has pulled out, leaving a gaping hole in the Pro Tour schedule. There are now just two events remaining on its 2012 calendar.
There is now one less opportunity for riders to accumulate points in order to qualify for the 2013 Calgary Stampede. Hepson said he would like to see a Saskatoon event return to the tour’s 2013 schedule, as long as it doesn’t coincide with the Ex.
As for this year, Sapergia is confident the chuckwagon races will still be exciting. She said the PAPCCA has offered more horses and will even bring in chariots for the first time to make up for the loss of the CPCA.
“I would like (the fans) to come down and see what we have to offer,” Sapergia said. “Hopefully it’ll be enough to satisfy their chuckwagon fix.”
The chuckwagon races begin tonight at Marquis Downs and run until Sunday. Competition begins at 6: 30 p.m. each night except for Sunday’s finale, which starts at 2 p.m.
Source: The Star Phoenix