How to avoid getting balloted from a BE event

  • It is no secret that the poor British weather has wreaked havoc with British Eventing (BE) competitions recently. Abandonments across the country are meaning that remaining events are wrestling with exceptionally large entries as competitors reach the point of desperation in trying to get a run for their horses.

    BE’s ballot system is groaning under the sheer volume of entries and many competitors are finding themselves on the subsequent dreaded ballot lists. So what can you do to give yourself the best possible chance of avoiding the ballot?

    How many competitors can run?

    The maximum number of entries an event can take before they have to ballot is:

    • 258 per day before the start of British Summer Time (BST) and after 30 September or;
    • 300 per day after the start of BST until 30 September

    Which day?

    A good way of trying to avoid getting balloted is by carefully choosing which day you compete on. For example, keep an eye out for which other levels are running on which days and how many entries they have in total on each of those days. Alternatively, show that you are flexible by entering into ‘either day’ where the option is available.

    Which events are commonly oversubscribed?

    It is easy to find out how many competitors were balloted at an event in the previous year by referring to the British Eventing schedule. There it will note how many competitors in each class were balloted. This should help flag to you where you might need to use your ballot or super ballot numbers. Having said that, this season is a bit of an anomaly due to the poor weather and the high level of entries, so some of last year’s ballot data might not translate to the number of entries a certain event will experience this year.


    Most events will do everything they can to avoid balloting those who volunteer for them. So, roll up your sleeves and sign up to the British Eventing volunteer database which can be found on their website. You can also get in touch with event organisers to offer your help. Be sure to note on your entry form that you are a volunteer at their event.

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    Ballot numbers

    You can read our full guide to ballot numbers here. Entries are accepted as follows (the top of the list being the most likely):

    • Entries from full members using super ballot numbers
    • Entries from full members using ballot numbers, up to two entries per competitor
    • Entries from members which the organiser specially wishes to accept
    • Entries from full members using a ballot number giving a third entry per competitor
    • Entries from full members without ballot numbers, giving up to one entry per competitor
    • Entries from full members without ballot numbers, giving a second or third entry per competitor
    • Entries from pass competitors on season ticket horses using a ballot number
    • Entries from full members on horse passes or entries from pass competitors on season ticket horses without a ballot number
    • Pass competitors on horse passes
    • Incomplete or incorrectly submitted entries
    • Unpaid entries

    Who gets precedence?

    International, advanced and intermediate entries take priority over lower level classes. Equally if there is a large number of novice and BE100 entries at an event, these will take precedence over B90 entries.

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