The British Equestrian Federation (BEF) has selected the first horse and rider combinations to join its World Class Dressage Equine Pathway programme.

The scheme aims to identify and develop horses to win medals for Britain, and has three levels of support.

Chairman of selection David Trott explained: “We’ll keep an eye on the first group and invite them for training. The next group will also receive home visits and training sessions, while the highest group will have more regular home visits and training.”

At each session, riders will receive a training, competition and veterinary review, and each has been given a mentor.

World Class performance director Will Connell said: “We’ve selected horses that might make the grade as well as those we’re confident will in time. I think we have a lot of good horses in this country — we just need to work to keep them here.”

Those on the World Class Start and Potential squads are not eligible for Equine Pathway, as they already receive similar support.

World Class Start and Potential manager Victoria Underwood said: “Equine Pathway is there primarily to aid young horses in their development, whereas horses on the Start and Potential schemes are more established. We’ll make a slight change to our own programme to make sure its riders’ younger horses are incorporated into their support.”

Equine Pathway also selects riders well outside the upper age limit of 30 to be considered for Start and Potential.

Fifty-six horses were invited to the recent viewing day at Addington Manor. British Dressage trainers eligible to judge young horse classes suggested some of the applicants and riders scoring more than 70% at open national championships, or more than 80% in young horse classes, were also invited.

Those selected so far include Mary Sharman (DHI Wohler), Judy Harvey (Fitzcerraldo), Nicky Barrett (Faberge), Gemma Green (Showtime), Damian Hallam (Delux) and Suzanne Davies (Rhondeo) in group one. David Trott expects to place Gareth Hughes and Sandman in the same group once the horse is back in full work.

Charlotte Dujardin (Fernandez); Rhett Bird (Renegade) and Melanie Allen (Tamberonie) were placed in group two. Group three includes Gareth Hughes (Duvie), Anona Young (Di Angelo), Garry Williams (Showmaker) and Jane Bredin (Soul Sister).

Plans and selection criteria for jumping and eventing Equine Pathways are being finalised. For more information, visit www.bef.org.uk