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New-look eventing festivals and qualifiers to ‘showcase grassroots talent’

British Eventing has revealed how its recently announced Area Festivals format will give grassroots riders competing from BE80(T) to BE100 level an “inspiring goal” designed to “showcase talent”.

The Science Supplements Area Festivals will include “new look” BE80(T), BE90 and BE100 area qualifiers – replacing existing regional finals – and new area championships classes for BE80(T), BE80(T) open, BE90, BE90 open, BE100 and BE100 open.

The Area Festivals will run as standalone events, with courses of “championship technicality” and international-size dressage arenas.

“Following member feedback, collaborating with the rider working group 80-105 and in conjunction with the Event Riders Association, the Area Festivals will provide additional championship opportunities, plus the chance to compete at prestigious venues with an exciting competition atmosphere,” said a BE spokesman.

“The area qualifiers will bring together riders challenging for the BE90 and BE100 championship at Badminton and the BE80(T) championship”.

The spokesman said following a tender process in which 14 venues applied, the host venues are: Firle Place, Sussex (15-16 May), Frickley Park, South Yorkshire (19-20 June), Chillington Hall, Staffordshire/Shropshire border (26-27 June). A northern/Scottish venue will be announced soon.

Combinations can qualify for the area festival championships by achieving two double clears between 1 June 2019 and 30 April 2021, or by being placed in the top percentage, to be confirmed next year, of a normal BE80(T), BE90, BE90 open, BE100, and BE100 open in the same period.

In line with previous regional final qualifications, the top percentage, as yet unconfirmed, of eligible combinations placed at BE80(T), BE90 and BE100 events will be eligible to compete at area qualifiers. The top percentage of combinations then placed at the area qualifiers will go on to compete at the BE90 and BE100 championships held at Badminton and the BE80(T) championship. Those who already hold a regional final qualification will automatically be eligible to enter an area qualifier in 2021.

In addition to qualifying at the Area Festivals, competitors can qualify directly for the BE90 and BE100 championships at Badminton, at the Scottish Grassroots Championships at Blair Castle, Perthshire, and the BE90 and BE100 three-day event at Bicton Arena, Devon.

“This is such an exciting development for the sport and one which we hope will provide more of our members with an inspiring goal,” said BE chief executive Jude Matthews.

“I would like to extend my thanks to Science Supplements for their support of this initiative. As well as providing a new competition opportunity for grassroots riders in the creation of the area championships, the inclusion of the area qualifiers at the Area Festivals enables us to make these classes closer to the challenge that will be faced at the finals and create a bigger atmosphere for this stage of the qualification route.”

Ms Matthews added that BE had worked with its rider working group to take feedback and adapt the concept.

“Key feedback from our members has been that they would like more championship opportunities and for us to reward those who achieve consistent double clears,” she said.

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“We have also listened to feedback to provide area championship opportunities for those who are not eligible for the more restricted BE90 and BE100 championship and BE(80)T championships route by including open sections.”

Science Supplements group chief executive David Mitson said the company is delighted to be extending its relationship with BE and supporting grassroots riders.

“The Area Festivals will provide a further opportunity to showcase the range of talent among grassroots riders and give more members a championship to aim for.”

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