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Blair Castle horse trialsThe focus of the 2015 eventing season for many elite competitors is the European Eventing Championships at Blair Castle, Scotland (10-13 September).

Having a championship “at home” offers a particular opportunity for British riders, as the host nation can field 12 pairs, rather than the usual six. Up-and-coming Brits will be battling to make their mark in the early part of the season in the hope of claiming one of the coveted squad places.

Blair also offers a chance for nations which have not already qualified for the 2016 Olympics to secure a spot. Brazil have an automatic place at the Games as the hosts, with the six best teams from the 2014 World Equestrian Games having also already qualified — they were Germany, Britain, the Netherlands, France, Australia and Ireland.

However, France’s qualification could be revoked, depending on the outcome of the disciplinary process following the positive dope test of Maxime Livio’s horse, Qalao Des Mers. If France does lose its place and qualification, Canada will move up into sixth place and qualify for Rio.

The best two countries at Blair who have not already qualified will pick up their Olympic qualification.

Across the pond, the best team at the Pan American Games (again excluding the nations already qualified) will also secure their spot — unless Canada gain a place by default, competition is likely to be fierce between them and the USA for this qualification.

Aside from championships and Olympic qualification, the British four-stars will as usual be hotly contested this year, with a strong German contingent expected at Badminton in the spring.

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