It’s that time of year again where those of us who enjoy eventing are busy planning and entering British Eventing (BE) competitions up and down the country.

If you’re new to the sport, you may have heard the word “ballot” floating around, but not be sure what it means. To help you here is an explanation of how British Eventing’s ballot system works and how you can try to avoid missing out on an event you’ve entered.

What is the British Eventing ballot?

If an event attracts more entries than it can accommodate, the entry secretary will stop taking entries on the ballot day, which is usually 18-21 days before the event or 25-28 days before if the event balloted the previous year. Entries secretaries will then waitlist (if you have marked on your entry you are happy to be waitlisted) or ballot (where you are not accepted into the event and your money is returned due to the over-subscription of a class) the surplus entries.

How many entries can an event accept?

The maximum number of entries an event can take before they have to ballot is:

  • 258 per day before the start of British Summer Time (BST) and after 30 September or;
  • 300 per day after the start of BST until 30 September

How can I try to avoid being balloted?

Each horse registered with a BE season or half-season ticket will receive ballot numbers for each ballot period (month the event is held) during the season, plus two super ballot numbers for one season.

Ballot numbers will be emailed when the season ticket is purchased or can be viewed on the British Eventing website by logging in to membership and my details, scrolling down to the horse’s name, clicking on the name and viewing the numbers at the bottom of that page.

If you allocate a ballot number to an entry, it will give you priority in a ballot, but it is still not a guaranteed entry. Ballot numbers are valid for one month and can only be used for one event in that month.

The terms of use of ballot numbers are explained in the BE rule book as follows:

  • If an entry is withdrawn before ballot date, the ballot number can be re-used
  • If an entry is withdrawn after ballot date or the event is cancelled or abandoned, the ballot number cannot be reused
  • If an entry using a monthly ballot number is balloted, that ballot number is replaced with a super ballot number
  • If an entry using a super ballot number is balloted, that super ballot number can be re-used and an additional one will be issued
  • In the case of abandonment, super ballot numbers can be re-used for future entry

What priority do I take with my ballot number?

Your chances of being accepted into an event are listed below (one being most likely and 11 is not accepted).

  1. Entries from full members using super ballot numbers
  2. Entries from full members using ballot numbers, up to two entries per competitor
  3. Entries from members which the organiser specially wishes to accept
  4. Entries from full members using a ballot number giving a third entry per competitor
  5. Entries from full members without ballot numbers, giving up to one entry per competitor
  6. Entries from full members without ballot numbers, giving a second or third entry per competitor
  7. Entries from pass competitors on season ticket horses using a ballot number
  8. Entries from full members on horse passes or entries from pass competitors on season ticket horses without a ballot number
  9. Pass competitors on horse passes
  10. Incomplete or incorrectly submitted entries
  11. Unpaid entries.

If any class below intermediate level is over-subscribed, a competitor will be limited to riding three horses across country in one day.

Can I find out how many people were balloted in certain events last year?

Yes. You can find this information on the BE website on each event’s schedule page.

Does my chance of being balloted vary with which class I enter?

Yes. Organisers give priority to higher classes and will reject whole lower level classes if necessary (although this is very rare). International, advanced and intermediate entries take priority over lower level classes.

How do I know if I’ve been balloted?

Keep an eye on the entries site (either BDWP or the British Eventing website depending on where you made your entry). Warnings of a ballot, ballot lists and waitlists will be posted there.

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Will I get my money back?

The short answer is yes. If you haven’t requested to be put on the wait list, you will receive a full refund. If you are waitlisted but don’t get off the waitlist before the event you will also be refunded.

What is a waitlist and how does it work?

If you put on your entry that you are happy to be waitlisted in the event of a ballot, the waitlist (restricted to 15% of the number of places in a class at any one time) showing entries in order of intended order of acceptance will be published online. Keep an eye on the waitlist in the run up to the event to check whether your entry has been accepted or not.