Two British riders will be able to gain “wild card” qualification for the 2004 British Open Showjumping Championships, thanks to a new system introduced by the show’s organisers Grandstand Event Management.

Previously, only the top 12 British riders, as ranked at the end of the year preceding the show, were able to compete at this prestigious event.

Mark Wein, director of Grandstand Event Management, explains: “We recognise that we can help develop the standard of jumping in Britain by offering additional places to ‘in-form’ riders who have not achieved automatic qualification.”

The qualifier for the wild card places will be held at the Addington Classic in March and is expected to provide an exciting battle as riders compete for a much-coveted place in the British Open.

“We envisage that Addington will be fiercely contested providing those who qualify with a perfect taster of the level of expertise required to successfully contest the British Open Championship,” adds Mark.

There will be three classes open to riders on grade A horses. The two riders gaining the most points on one horse across the three qualifying competitions will go through to the Sheffield championships. Each wild card qualifier will take their qualifying horse, as well as two additional horses, to the British Open.

Riders who have already qualified for the championships will be eligible for the £15,000 prize-fund in the three classes at Addington, but will not be awarded points.

The British Open Showjumping Championship was well received by riders and spectators alike when it was introduced last April and this year’s event will see Robert Whitaker defending his title.

For more information visit: www.britishopenshowjumping.com