There has been a great deal of work behind the scenes to expand the number of FEI rankings classes in the UK — and it was good to see Graham Fletcher bringing the issue to the fore (comment, 12 January).
The addition of rankings classes to our county shows would be a golden opportunity to make them really mean something again.
I would like to take the idea further and push for two rankings classes at every three-day county show. If it needs to be subsidised by World Class or other funding, then it would be money well spent.
Adding two rankings classes to the schedule would increase the quantity and quality of entries and give the show stability. The chance to jump two classes of that standard at each show would also really help bring horses and riders on.
As Graham rightly said, our national teams have been threadbare, but if riders can regularly compete at a high level, it will boost the ranks. If that gives Di Lampard more selection headaches, it can only be a good thing.
It would be a huge boost for showjumping in the UK, and I’d like to see British Showjumping getting behind it. Apart from fulfilling a few of the FEI’s criteria, which are easy to meet, there’s no reason we couldn’t start the ball rolling for 2017.
If it worked, then venues such as Arena UK and Addington could soon follow suit. It could be rolled out across the country, so anyone putting up good money can create a class that means something.
Mind the gap
I was fortunate that for years I was in the front carriage of the train, and could compete at five-star events every week. These days, accumulating rankings points is the only route into bigger and better shows — but for young riders and those with new horses, the gap between that front carriage and everyone else has become harder to bridge.
You see the same top riders getting into the same top shows year on year and there is a huge volume of competitors vying for rankings points. It’s vital that we have a system that benefits our own as much as possible — we can’t rely on the Continent for everything.
With this is mind, it was really good to see three young riders compete internationally at Liverpool, two of whom were Irish and were placed in the grand prix.
Unfortunately not one British rider was given that opportunity. I know they’re good enough — I’d have backed Millie Allen to beat 75% of the internationals that turned up!
Before these schedules are approved, we need to stipulate that a percentage of British riders under the age of 23 are accepted.
Jump at the chance
That said, while I was at Olympia this year I tackled Simon Brooks-Ward to ask if the number of home riders could be increased from 10 to 15. He asked if I was joking — of the 10 riders there, only seven wanted to start in the World Cup this year.
If you get the chance to compete at a show like Olympia, you should go with the aim of competing in the World Cup and work down from there. For the organiser, riders not starting is a disaster, and it’s hard to argue for greater inclusion.
Ref Horse & Hound; 19 January 2017