THE A33 was partially closed over the weekend after a large number of people gathered for an ‘illegal’ horse and trap racing event near Micheldever.

The event caused confusion for many local people who were hoping to travel along the stretch of road, or who came across members of the group involved at Basingstoke’s Crowne Plaza hotel.

But what exactly was happening? Here’s what we know so far ...

What happened?

Hundreds of members of the traveller community descended on the A33, which runs between Basingstoke and Winchester, for a horse and trap racing event.

The event saw large crowds gathering on the road near Micheldever, leading to police taking the decision to partially close the road.

One resident’s dash cam footage captured the scene.

When did it happen?

The event ran on Saturday and Sunday (May 1 and 2), with nearby residents saying they saw attendees arriving from 6.30am each morning.

What is a horse and trap racing event?

Horse and trap racing, also known as harness racing, is a type of horse racing in which the animals pull a two-wheeled cart behind them, occupied by a driver.

Spectators bet on the outcome of the races.

Who was involved with it?

It is thought that approximately 200 people from the travelling community attended the event.

Following a “potential incident” attended by police on Friday evening, the management of the Crowne Plaza Hotel has confirmed that up to 30 of its rooms were booked by attendees of the horse racing event - although staff were unaware of their reason for travel at the time.

Why were police involved?

Police were called due to the event’s obstruction of the road.

They allowed the event to continue, closing the northbound carriageway between Larkwhistle Farm Road and Woodmancott junctions until around 4.30pm, with officers remaining on the scene for much of the weekend.

Members of the public questioned why police did not stop the event from taking place.

A spokesperson for Hampshire Constabulary has now responded to say the action it used was “not exclusive to this event”.

They said: "Whilst at times the road was closed entirely, for the majority of the time, and when safe to do so, we were able to partially open the road to allow traffic through.

“This type of action is not exclusive to this event, as with any large gatherings we have seen across the country this past year, policing always has to balance whether allowing an event to happen, even if illegal, is safer than the risks of shutting it down.”

However, they added that “his is an illegal sporting event, and we do not support or facilitate it”, despite primary focus having to be on safety.

What was the purpose of the event?

It is known for sure why the event took place, however there has been some suggestion that it was a fundraising effort.

It is also not yet known whether this is a regular event, or a one-off.

Sarah, of The Millwheel Tack Shop in Bracknell, told the Gazette that she overheard a customer talking about the event at the weekend, and said it had raised thousands of pounds towards the cost of major surgery for a young child.

The Gazette is looking into this.

What happens next?

The event ended on Sunday.

Police confirmed that throughout the road closure, they were taking action against any offences.

They said that one man was arrested on suspicion of drug driving, while three cars were seized.

The Gazette has contacted Hampshire Constabulary for an update.