Opinion

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Showjumping needs sponsors and investors, but how do new backers coming into the sport make sure they’re choosing riders with the right credentials to compete at the level they desire?

There have been many times over the years that I’ve had owners tell me their rider will be going to the Olympics when anyone else could tell you they haven’t got a hope. It’s a shame when those owners or sponsors then go out of the sport because they’ve become disillusioned.

You have to be involved with showjumping for a while to know who can truly deliver results and we don’t want to lose good owners because they’ve bought the wrong horse or backed the wrong rider.

It would help if we had a system that owners could go to for clear information on a riders’ abilities. A panel of three selectors could easily identify the available talent and it would make it much clearer for owners, sponsors and riders to see their standing.

Recommended top-line riders would have to have a track record in five-star grands prix and have selectors looking favourably on them for championship and Nations Cup “super league” places.

In the next tier, you’d have B-team riders, who are sitting just behind the A-list and are pushing towards team slots. Behind them there would be a progressive list, including riders on their way up or older riders who have lost their good horses. No one would be able to sit comfortably just on their past performances — they’d have to keep proving themselves in order to maintain their place.

Rankings only half the story

It’s a system that I believe needs to be rolled out and would be welcomed by the majority. Showjumping isn’t like other sports, you can’t just check who is playing in the Ryder Cup or Division One.

A potential backer undertaking due diligence can only go to the world rankings list — and that only tells half the story.

Astonishing volume of competitors

We’re currently part way through a mini tour of competitions in Europe with our developing horses — taking in Sentower Park and Lier to name a couple — and it’s astonishing to see the volume of people competing here.

The facilities are world class and it’s well worth the effort to come and jump in decent-sized indoor arenas and collecting rings. There’s also plenty of trade on offer with an abundance of clients and horses for sale.

Competing in venues like this makes the job of producing and training enjoyable — it makes you realise how far behind our home circuit has fallen.

Ref Horse & Hound; 8 November 2018