It is hard to keep up with what’s happening in the world of eventing this year. Beyond the new Premier League, which rewards riders at the very top of the sport, a flurry of other initiatives has been planned at every level.
The upcoming event at Somerford Park, which takes place on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 May, for example, will reward the performance of young horses competing at intro and pre-novice level.
With the support of sponsor LG Sporthorses, the Young Event Horse Challenge will give the highest placed young horse in the Intro and Pre-Novice classes a special award, a rosette, a winners’ rug and a £50 training bursary to be used with a BE accredited trainer.
Somerford Park organisers see this as a stepping stone for the future, as they intend to make the challenge a permanent feature of the event’s programme.
Meanwhile, three events in the South of England have teamed up to launch another challenge. Longleat (3 – 5 June), Wilton (30 – 31 July) and Highclere (28 – 29 August) have launched the Stately Homes Challenge, named after the grandiose backdrops against which the three events take place. Riders will gain points at every leg of the challenge and the overall winner will bag a Mitsubishi Sogun for a year, offered by sponsor Bellamy of Mayfair.
The top six competitors in any intermediate or open intermediate sections at each event receive a number of points on a sliding scale from 10, for the winner, to 2, for a fourth, fifth or sixth placement. Riders can earn points on any number of horses at each event and whoever accumulates the highest number of points by the end of the Highclere competition over the August Bank Holiday weekend wins the prize.
Beyond the individual challenges, however, it is the overall dynamism of the sport which is staggering. Winnie Murphy of British Eventing puts it down to finally being able to build on an established framework of events. “It is all part of our constant bid to progress the sport,” she says. “We needed a few years to let the calendar settle down. Now it is time, on the back of the Olympic success and increased membership, to look at this kind of initiatives and take the sport forward.”