Just when event riders thought that the last bell had tolled for roads and tracks and steeplechase, an announcement by British Eventing fuels traditionalists’ hopes. Buried among the minutes of the latest BE Board meeting is the news that the new pre-novice three-day events, which the board has authorised for 2006, will follow the long format.
Re-introducing roads and tracks and steeplechase at grass-roots level at a time when events further up the pecking order are turning away from it may sound somewhat quixotic. Not so, says BE sport and technical manager, Jonathan Clissold. “The feeling among trainers is that, at one-star and two-star level, steeplechase is good training. I think it trains riders and horses to quicker thinking.”
Clissold explains that pre-novice riders specifically requested the introduction of three-day events with roads and tracks and steeplechase. “We did a survey on our website for pre-novice riders as to what they wanted. The two main things to come out of it were that they’d like a championship [to aim for], and a pre-novice three-day event with steeplechase.”
The three-day events have now been approved by the Board, but haven’t been announced yet. BE is expected to publicise the news in the next issue of its in-house magazine, when they will be calling for applications from organisers who want to be considered.
Setting the pre-novice events up, however, will require some thought. “All the three-day events we run are under FEI rules, so we have to draft new rules for [the pre-novice ones],” says Clissold. But, more importantly, BE wants each event to be a special occasion. “It will be run like a mini-Badminton,” Clissold says. Or, at any rate, a mini-Badminton in the traditional sense, including roads and tracks and steeplechase.
Plans for an Intro and Pre Novice Festival, incorporating championships for riders competing at the lower end of the sport, have also been approved and are expected to be announced shortly.