Within days of a new batch of World Equestrian Games (WEG) tickets being released last week, eventing fans have been infuriated by a ticketing system branded “farcical”.

On 4 March, 200,000 tickets went on sale for the Games, to be held in Normandy (23 August-7 September).

However, within hours only cross-country tickets remained for eventing. Tickets for the eventing dressage, eventing showjumping and the reining all quickly sold out. But as H&H went to press there were still tickets remaining for all other disciplines.

H&H reader Alexandra Denton went online at 8.40am on 4 March to find all eventing showjumping tickets had gone.

She had further problems buying cross-country tickets.

“I got a holding screen which was all in French,” she said. “The translation said there was a long connection time due to high demand. My order states ‘paid’, but no funds have been debited from my card — I’m not convinced all is well.”

She has contacted WEG, which told her the order was being been processed, but she has not had a validation email.

Penny Jennings said the process was “diabolical”.

“I already have fantastic accommodation near the eventing site, and booked ferry tickets, but now have no tickets — what a waste. It’s the worst organised WEG I’ve encountered,” she said.

This is not the first time readers have complained. In November, a batch of tickets went on sale — but the website was problematic then and the tickets were in bundles, paired with disciplines that fans didn’t want (news, 5 December).

Reader Graham Noakes had problems with the site in November, then went online on 4 March to buy eventing dressage tickets. Frustrated by the site, he phoned France.

“I waited more than 10min to be told that the tickets are all sold out,” he said.

The eventing dressage is being held at a small stadium adjacent to the cross-country course in Haras du Pin.

Sarah Caplan from Equestrian Escapes, the UK tour operator for WEG, told H&H there are no eventing dressage tickets left anywhere in the world.

“I think it’s because it’s in a small, temporary grand stand,” she said. “We are still selling packages with cross-country and showjumping, but all of our dressage tickets went in November.

H&H contacted the US tour provider —  Equestrian Tours — who also confirmed no dressage phase tickets were left.

A spokesman for WEG told H&H that there were some eventing dressage tickets left for the “last lap” on 4 March, but they went quickly.

He added that they “hadn’t recorded any signifcant technical issues” with the website and that the process was “proving to be a great success”.

This article was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (13 March 2014)