Badminton makes a tweak to entries system for 2024

  • Riders may be able to pilot three horses at the Mars Badminton Horse Trials this spring (8-12 May), for the first time in years.

    In the past, a few competitors have ridden three horses at the spring five-star, including in the days of long format – quite a feat with roads and tracks and steeplechase to be tackled before the cross-country. Australia’s Bill Roycroft was the first person to complete on three horses, in 1965, when he covered 47 miles on speed and endurance day. But in recent years, riders have been limited to starting on two horses.

    The Badminton team brought in a waiting list system in 2008, to deal with the fact the event was consistently oversubscribed. Since then, Badminton has accepted 85 entries, with the other horses listed in order of the FEI points they have won in the past two years. The wait-listed entries replace those who withdraw until 2pm on the Sunday before the event.

    Between 2008 and 2022, there was always a waiting list. But in 2023, only 83 horses were entered for the event, so there was no waiting list, and 64 started the event.

    Until this year, riders have been limited to starting on two horses under the waiting list system. The new rule stipulates that third horses will only be accepted once everyone on the waiting list has been offered a chance to run. Third horses will then be accepted in order of FEI points.

    This new system offers the potential opportunity for the select few riders with a string of five-star campaigners to compete a third horse and for the event to have a larger field (up to a maximum of 85), but without denying anyone the chance to ride at Badminton.

    “Badminton 2023 was the first year that we did not have a waiting list. Therefore this year we are happy for athletes to enter three horses, to concur with other international events,” said a Badminton spokesman, confirming the order in which entries are accepted and how this affects third horses: “A third horse will only be accepted if it can be accommodated within the number of entries accepted.  Those athletes on a waiting list will take priority and accepted prior to a rider with a third horse.”

    As usual, riders can enter more than three horses for Badminton, a system known as double entering, so riders are effectively reserving a certain number of places at the event but will decide which horses to run nearer the time of the event.

    Burghley Horse Trials allows riders to enter three horses and last year Oliver Townend and Harry Meade both started on three.

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