Top event rider Matthew Wright has been suspended from competition for running an unregistered horse last October.

At a British Eventing (BE) disciplinary hearing on 1 February Matthew was dealt a 23-day ban for infringing rules 3ai, 8b, 28b and 31. While some of the infringements deal with late/substitution entries and disgraceful conduct, the main breach (rule 8b), applied because Matthew ran an unregistered horse last year.

The suspension puts him out of the start of the eventing season, beginning this weekend.

“I ran Hugginstown hors concours in a novice on the Sunday at Bishop Burton, but BE didn’t receive its registration documents until the Tuesday,” said 25-year-old Matthew. “I was completely up front and told the stewards but BE has, I think, decided to make an example of me.”

The horse competed legally just one week later, at Little Downham, and won.

He added: “BE is trying to clean up the sport and make it more professional, which we’re all for, but the fact that I’ve been banned for something so trivial is annoying.”

Matthew did not contest the suspension, which ends on 23 March, although it means he will miss the first four weekends of the season. Last year he netted four wins and 67 points during that time.

“I can appeal, and begin competing in March, but if I lose, I will have to serve the ban later in the season which I don’t want to do,” explained Matthew.

Matthew represented Britain as a young rider in 2002, securing team silver on Park Pilot. He earned his first senior flag as an individual at the 2005 European Championships, finishing 13th on the same horse. He was 11th in the BE standings last season, and is widely tipped as a future British team member.

The last BE member to be caught flouting the registration rules was Heather Moodie in 2006. She was banned for 12 months, and fined £750 for competing five separate horses under the registration number of one horse called Aspiration (news, 18 May 2006).

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (28 February, ’08)