Great Leighs, sponsor of the senior newcomers show jumping series, has asked the BSJA to reverse a rule change that excludes the top 50 riders from the competition’s second rounds and Horse of the Year Show final – or risk losing the company’s £15,000-a-year support of the popular competition.

Horses that are registered in grade C and have won less than £300 are eligible to enter the newcomers, and the HOYS final of the competition is the considered first rung on the ladder for those with a bright future.

Great Leighs chairman John Holmes says he was neither consulted by the BSJA beforehand as sponsor, nor notified as a courtesy. The change was approved by the BSJA in December, before Holmes took his seat on the association’s executive board.

He says: “The appeal of the class for grass roots riders has diminished, as they will no longer be jumping against their idols at HOYS, while the professionals who make a living out of producing the good young horses that Britain so desperately needs have been denied their showcase.

“As a new board member I have considered this carefully, but I must stand up for riders and sponsors alike. Sponsors must never be in a position to dictate to the sport, but at the same time we cannot sell a product to a backer and then change its entire concept on a whim.”

The BSJA proposes to review the rule change at a rules committee meeting on 21 May.

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