The entry system for British Dressage (BD) young horse classes has been questioned after the winner of a class for six-year-olds was subsequently found to be seven years old.

Carol Felton’s Fergana, ridden by former national novice and elementary champion Lucy Cartwright, won the six-year-old British young horse qualifier at Hartpury on 7 May.

But it was later disqualified when it transpired the horse was born in January 2004.

No link to BE records

Hartpury organiser Philip Cheetham said that there was no way of checking every horse’s eligibility and that entries were taken on trust.

“Competitors enter age class qualifiers on the same entry form as is used for regular BD classes.

“The horse’s age is required to be filled in, but as organisers do not have access to BD’s database, it is impossible to verify entries.”

New database planned

BD’s sport manager Paul Graham said: “The eligibility of qualified horses is checked prior to championship classes, but not before.

“BD is currently working on a new database, which should allow us faster access to the horse’s details and thus hopefully help to us avoid mistakes like this happening in the future.”

Passport checks

Ms Cartwright told H&H that she did not realise Fergana was seven and that as soon as she had become aware of the mistake, she had notified BD.

“Perhaps it should be mandatory for passports to be checked for age classes to prevent these sorts of mistakes,” she said.

Qualification moved down

Hartpury was a final opportunity to qualify for the British six-year-old championship at Hickstead, which will take place from 25-31 June.

Ms Cartwright has since been disqualified from the final and the qualifying ticket has passed to second-placed Marne Martin-Tucker and Royal Coeur II.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (26 May, 2011)