Hickstead, Dublin and Aachen may have to re-bid to run Nations Cups after a major shake-up of the series – including Saudi sponsorship – was announced at the FEI Sports Forum in Lausanne, Switzerland.

From 2013, the FEI jumping committee wants to replace the current league system with a knock-out competition which would embrace dozens more countries.

But with as few as seven shows potentially involved over three rounds worldwide – and host shows precluded from staging a more valuable grand prix – existing nations cup shows could be left out on a limb.

Hickstead has hosted the British Nations Cup for all but one year since 1971 but organisers Lizzie and Edward Bunn were not consulted about the scrapping of the Nations Cup top league.

Edward Bunn said Hickstead – which has heavily invested in footing improvements – needed to digest the implications before commenting in detail.

However Lizzie Bunn told the open forum there would be funding issues for shows excluded from next year.

She said: “I am not sure some shows will survive if they don’t have the funding, especially as you are talking about not having a grand prix at the same event.”

On Monday, the FEI announced that the 2012 top league would be sponsored by the Saudi Equestrian Fund.

But the new backer’s proposed five-year extension – for an as yet undisclosed sum – is conditional on involving more of the fast-evolving show jumping nations such as the middle East, China and south America.

The proposal has to be ratified by the FEI bureau at its annual general assembly in November.