The recent cancellation of events due to flooding has continued to cause havoc with the British Eventing (BE) calendar — with the latest victim being Hartpury International Horse Trials (9-12 August), where 110 horses were expected to run.

International Equestrian Federation (FEI) rules state that a rider or horse wishing to run in a CCI*** event first need to qualify at CIC*** level — such as at Hartpury.

With vastly reduced opportunities for riders to qualify for major events, BE has been forced to take some emergency measures.

Director of sport Mike Etherington-Smith said the situation is changing daily. He said: “The two advanced sections and the British Open Championship at Gatcombe Park [3-5 August] will now be classified as a CIC***. There will also be two new CIC** events at Oasby and Aston-le-Walls.”

Other changes include counting both the CIC*** and advanced class at Thirlestane Castle and the advanced class at Brockenhurst Park as qualifications for Burghley and Blenheim — but not for Blair Castle because of timing considerations.

Blenheim (CCI***) entries secretary Kate Green said: “We will accept entries from riders pending qualification at Thirlestane [and Brockenhurst] but they have to enter by 7 August.”

BE’s website states that, despite the reclassification of Gatcombe’s advanced and Open Championship sections, “all technical aspects remain unchanged” with the same show jumping and cross-country track. But the advanced competitors will now do CIC*** dressage test B, rather than advanced 143.

An FEI spokesman said it made an exception letting Gatcombe into the calendar at such a late stage, but stressed qualification rules could not be relaxed, as they ensure riders compete at the appropriate level.

She added: “If an event is cancelled, another one may become a qualifying event, but rider and horse still have to qualify under FEI rules.”

Hartpury event director Amanda Ward said there had been a unanimous decision by officials to cancel the Gloucestershire event after a course inspection last Friday (27 July). The track was under water in places and other areas had “inconsistent going”.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (2 August, ’07)