British Eventing (BE) is introducing a new junior programme at BE100 level for 2010.
Funded by Sport England, the programme is for riders in the years of their 12th to 18th birthdays. It will run in a similar way to the well-established junior regional novice (JRN) series, but at BE100 (formerly pre-novice) level rather than novice.
BE sport manager (development) Paul Graham explained: “I did some work in April looking at participation and finding out what people wanted. A lot of youth wanted to be in a programme, but our programmes don’t start until novice level.
“We felt this was a key stepping stone to develop young riders into the JRN and pony programmes.”
Riders will register with a regional coordinator in their area and each of the eight regions will run three or four BE100JR classes, plus a final. If there are four qualifiers in a region, the top eight from each with a clear cross-country will qualify for their area final. If there are only three qualifiers in the region, then the top 10 from each with a clear cross-country will qualify.
“We wanted it to be less high pressure than the JRNs, which is why we are having regional finals [rather than the national JRN final],” added Paul.
“There will also be training opportunites attached to the programme — cross-country schooling days in the regions and clinics, and the coaching development team will be involved in delivering them.”
Paul said BE has received a lot of positive feedback and several people on the BE forum have said that this will stop juniors feeling so much pressure to move up to novice level.
Some riders have commented on the BE forum that juniors like to — and should, to get a real idea of the standard of competition — compete on equal terms with seniors. But Paul pointed out that with only three or four BE100JRs in each regional annually, under-18s will still need compete against seniors in other classes through the season.