British Dressage Nationals opens its doors to 200 extra riders

  • The British Dressage (BD) Lemieux National Championships (24 to 27 September) will offer “exciting” opportunities to around 200 additional riders thanks to the new venue’s “outstanding” facilities.

    Following the announcement in December that the championships were to move from Stoneleigh Park, Warks, to Somerford Park, Cheshire, a number of changes have been made announced to the timetable.

    A spokesman for BD said the additional facilities at Somerford, including a third competition arena, had provided the organisation opportunity to review the number of tests per day.

    “Working with Show Direct, we’re now able to boost the programme capacity by around 15% across the established classes from novice to advanced medium. This means we will be able to ensure that numbers in the silver and gold sections are more balanced to provide better representation across the sport,” he said.

    “We’re also delighted to be able to add new classes to the timetable for both competitor and spectator enjoyment. Small tour riders will now have silver sections in both the prix st georges and intermediate I championships.”

    The spokesman added the additional the prix st georges gold championship will now include a freestyle element, bringing it in line with the intermediate I gold and grand prix gold championships.

    “For grassroots competitors, the prelim championship will be expanded to include both silver and gold sections for the first time,” he said.

    “With the aim of developing future human and equine talent, there will be an invitational championship class for our under-21 international riders, which covers ponies, juniors and young riders, while there will also be a new advanced medium gold seven-year-old championship.”

    BD chief executive Jason Brautigam said it had been the organisation’s ambition to grow the nationals in terms of competitor numbers, and Somerford’s “outstanding” facilities had brought that to fruition.

    “The new venue has enabled us to produce an ambitious timetable to accommodate around 610 tests over four days, providing more opportunities for riders at all levels to compete at our championships,” he said.

    “Our sport operations team, headed by Lou Jones, has worked closely with Kelvin Bywater at Show Direct to put these plans in place and while the timetable is still being finalised, we are excited to make these announcements so members can plan their competition targets for 2020.”

    Mr Brautigam added that the changes offer BD the chance to welcome around 200 additional riders, underlining the organisation’s commitment to growing and introducing other innovations in the “new era” of the championships.

    “Qualification got under way on 1 December and continues until 30 June, so good luck to all who are on that journey or can now make it part of their 2020 plans,” he said.

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