‘The system could not cope’: balloting returns for entries to popular horse trials

  • Horse trials organiser BEDE Events has ditched “first come, first served” entries for its fixtures and is returning to balloting as British Eventing’s (BE) system is not yet ready to cope with the expected surge in demand.

    BEDE Events counts Oasby, the Eventing Spring Carnival at Thoresby and Osberton Horse Trials among its roster.

    Oasby (7 to 10 March 2024), one of the first events of the season, has historically balloted heavily. Last year, BEDE trialled a first come, first served approach instead, and the demand overwhelmed BE’s system. The 2023 event was later abandoned owing to snow.

    “Despite our enthusiasm for change and to move areas of the sport forward, we will be moving back to a ballot system for entries as per the British Eventing rules,” said BEDE director Stuart Buntine.

    “We had hoped that changes to the BE entries systems would be in place for the start of the 2024 season, however this has not been possible and as we saw last year the system could not cope with the surge in volume for first come, first served entries.

    “This will undoubtedly come as a disappointment to many who felt that the first come, first served system offered confidence in their entry and allowed them to plan in advance without the risk of either not gaining their entry or having the day of competition changed.

    “We will continue to work with British Eventing to support the development of a more robust system, in order for a first come, first served approach to be adopted.”

    In 2022, BE announced plans to scrap the ballot system for 2023 as part of an overhaul of the fixtures calendar to modernise the sport. But this has been delayed.

    Last week (18 January) BE revealed that it has built a “virtual waiting room”, so people waiting to enter will know where they are in the queue and which it hopes will help alleviate issues on first come, first served entries in future.

    BE chief executive Rosie Williams said: “While the objective is to modernise our incumbent entries system, the complexity of eventing means it is a considerable technical challenge.

    “We rely heavily on the partnerships we have with our organisers and we look forward to continuing the work we have been doing with Stuart and others to achieve our aim.”

    Oasby entries open on 29 January and the ballot date is 6 February.

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