Badminton Horse Trials brings back entry fees for 2012

The organisers of Badminton Horse Trials say they have been compelled to reinstate entry fees for 2012.

This is to stem the increasing numbers of horses being entered with little or no prospect of actually taking part.

It represents a U-turn for the event, which scrapped its entry charge in 2008.

Event director Hugh Thomas told H&H: “The inevitable consequence [of removing the fee] was a deluge of entries.

“But it was unfair to those on the waiting list desperate to get in, but not knowing whether they would be able to run until the eleventh hour.”

But leading riders have expressed doubts.

Lucinda Fredericks, who won in 2007, tweeted: “Just noticed Badminton has reintroduced entry fees – what a disgrace!”

Sweden’s Dag Albert, who was the final waitlisted rider to be accepted before last year’s event, doubts that the move will make a difference.

“I would only ever enter a horse if I intended to run it,” he said.

“Perhaps a better solution would be to refund the entry fee to those who take part, while those who withdraw without a good reason should have to forfeit their money.”

But Andrew Nicholson said that he could understand.

“On the one hand, Badminton is the most prestigious event in the world, so really riders should be paid to take part,” he said.

“But if having an entry fee helps reduce the waitlist that will be a good thing.”

Mr Thomas said the extra revenue created will be put back into the prize-fund.

An email sent to riders read: “The money will be returned by way of increased prizes and an increase [from £400 to £750] in the expenses paid to all owners whose horses complete.”

The entry fee will be £312.24 – in line with other FEI three-day events.

This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (12 January 2012)