A team chase with a difference is set to launch in March as a warm-up for the spring season.
The arena-based competition will run on 11 March at LandS Eventing, Dallas Burston Polo Club, in Warwickshire.
It has been billed as a chance for riders to get their eye in and practice team tactics.
The aim of the event is to “get horses round and have an enjoyable experience” to set them up for the season.
“This new arena-based venture for the sport is an exciting new development, and we are grateful to the team at LandS Eventing and Dallas Burston Polo Club for their vision in taking the initiative forwards,” British Team Chasing (BTC) chairman Philip Cowen told H&H.
“With a course of nearly 1,000m in a huge all-weather arena, it will provide competitors with the ideal introduction to the season.
“The class will be judged against a pre-determined time to ensure that teamwork and safety are at the forefront of competitors’ minds as they take part in teams of three.”
The “super arena” at Dallas Burston is the size of a polo pitch and the course will be made up of portable cross-country fences.
The idea is the brainchild of photographer Paul Carley, who came up with the idea while pondering the difficulties of warming-up for the season with the unreliable spring weather and ground conditions.
Lloyd Hunt, of LandSeventing and course builder at the Warwickshire, is behind the arena cross-country and eventing series at the polo club and has also been “instrumental” in developing the arena team chasing idea.
There will be 80/90/100cm options, so riders can choose which height to attempt at each obstacle and can jump alongside each other in true team chasing style if they prefer.
Entries will open four weeks ahead of the event.
The course will feature accuracy questions and a pen, with times judged on the second rider crossing the finish line. There will also be pairs and individual classes.
“This is an exciting time for the sport, and the development of this new concept reflects the growing popularity of team chasing,” added Mr Cowen.
“The autumn 2017 season [had] an almost 20% increase in the numbers of teams entering the various team chasing classes at the 10 principal events of the season.”
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The spring team chasing season starts in earnest with the return of the Beaufort fixture, which will be held at Sherston, Wilts, on 18 March.
This will run with novice and intermediate classes this year, with hopes to add an open qualifier to the fixture in the future.
“Run over old turf in prime Beaufort Saturday country, the course will incorporate timber, walls, hedges and natural obstacles,” said organiser Lottie Bostock.
Course inspector Bryan Allen added: “This will be a cracking venue and the potential open course has some spectacular hedges.
“The team at the Beaufort are putting in a lot of time and effort and I think this will become a major event on the team chasing calendar.”
The Skinner’s Pet Foods National Championships is also returning to the Fernie fixture at Tur Langton, where it was previously held from 2002 to 2012, on 2 April.
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