Amateur riders competing at British Eventing (BE) novice level now have a chance to compete at a championship venue, with the introduction of a national restricted novice championships.

The championships — for which riders can qualify by finishing in the top 10% at any novice, open novice, intermediate novice, CIC1* or CCI1* by 30 June 2015 — will be held as part of the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park in August 2015.

The new competition has been created to bridge the gap between the grassroots championships at Badminton and the national novice championships — which are run at intermediate level.

A new novice cross-country course will be designed by H&H columnist Mark Phillips and built by the Willis brothers.

Many amateur riders have welcomed the addition.

“It is great that BE are listening to the majority of riders who event who actually are amateurs rather than professionals,” said Clare Stringer, who has competed at novice level.

“This gives people like me something to aim for and it is now on my mental checklist as something I want to achieve.”

The competition will only be open to riders who have not completed an intermediate class in the current or past five years, and not completed an advanced class within the past 10 years. Some riders feel this is too tough.

“I understand that it is always hard to decided where to draw the line,” said amateur rider Sarah-Jane Brown. “But I think it’s a shame that the current criteria will exclude some out-and-out amateurs who might have just done one to two intermediates badly.”

Another member added: “I think it should just be if you have ridden at advanced as plenty of amateurs have a dabble at intermediate.”

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (17 July, 2014)