Blenheim forced to ballot

  • The Petplan Blenheim International Horse Trials has received a record number of entries, leaving the Oxfordshire three-day event heavily oversubscribed.

    The organisers have said they will accommodate as many as possible, but due to safety considerations and sheer hours in the day, they have had to ballot 73 prospective competitors.

    Some 215 entries were received, and the event is aiming to run 135 horses.

    British Eventing rules state that all riders must be limited to one horse only in such circumstances, which will be disappointing for spectators because many top riders — including the British team of William Fox-Pitt, Pippa Funnell, Jeanette Brakewell and Leslie Law, plus American-based riders David and Karen O’Connor and Phillip Dutton — had more than one horse entered.

    “We are victims of our own success,” explains director and course-designer Mike Etherington-Smith. “Blenheim runs just at the right time of year, it is a very friendly event with excellent prize-money, and there is a lack of three-star events in Europe this year.

    “We feel awful about having to ballot so many, but we’ve had no choice. I swore we’d never do dressage on Wednesday again, but we’ll have to let about 35 combinations do their tests on Wednesday afternoon.”

    Blenheim is also running the Asia/Pacific Championships, in which Japan and New Zealand are hoping to qualify for the Athens Olympics.

    Mike added: “If we get withdrawals, there is a chance that riders might get to take more than one horse, but we must be fair to everyone.”

    For Blenheim ticket information, (tel: 01993 813335) or visit: www.petplanequine.co.uk/blenheim

    Read the full story in this week’s Horse & Hound (21 August), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.

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