Qualification for the Petplan Equine Area Festivals is changing in 2017 to create extra capacity following increased demand from dressage riders.
For the last six years riders who went to an area festival immediately qualified for the championship.
In 2017 this has been changed to a two-tier structure to give more horse and rider combinations the opportunity to take part.
There will be 27 qualifying rounds around the country beginning on 11-14 May at Wellington in Hampshire and ending on 2-3 September in Jersey.
The successful combinations will go on to one of eight semi-finals, beginning on 22-24 September at Field House in Staffordshire and ending on 28-30 October at Pencoed in Glamorgan in Wales.
The top combinations at the semis go forward to the championships, which will be run alongside the Winter Dressage Championships at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire in April 2018.
“We’ve now got over 4,000 combinations coming through which meant we had to adapt the structure to cater for the volume,” said Paul Graham, British Dressage’s (BD) sports operations manager.
He said the new structure was an “indication of the buoyancy of the sport.”
Other new changes for 2017 include a new under 18 section added following feedback from BD members.
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The levels also now go up to intermediate II and the preliminary section has been split into two sections, bronze and silver.
“The new format is the result of a great deal of planning and member consultation to arrive at a series within reach for so many riders, said British Dressage CEO Jason Brautigam.
“The Area Festivals have been a huge success and we want as many riders as possible to experience the thrill of competing in championship-style conditions,” said Kate Hopkins, marketing manager of Petplan.