Christopher Bartle wades into 2020 Agenda eventing debate

  • Former Badminton winner and German eventing team trainer Christopher Bartle has put forward a proposal for the future of eventing, in response to the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) 2020 Agenda.

    Earlier this year the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) released its 2020 Agenda to produce “attractive, modern, TV- and spectator-friendly sports”.

    The idea is to create a “new generation of fans”. However, proposals from the FEI eventing committee in April provoked frustration among riders.

    The idea is based around having a two-phase cross-country course. All riders would tackle the first section of cross-country to produce a team result, then nominated individuals who qualified with a fast clear over this initial test would have a short break, then go on to jump a second, shorter course which counted only for the individual competition.

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    “A two-phase cross-country keeps this discipline as the essence of the sport,” said Christopher. “It’s an idea I put forward after the Sydney Olympics when it seemed like eventing was coming under pressure from the IOC, so I’ve now rejuvenated it.”

    Christopher has been invited to discuss his idea at the second meeting of the European Equestrian Federation eventing working group on 13 July in Amsterdam. This group first met on 17 April at Heathrow.

    Former British Eventing chief executive Mike Etherington-Smith explained: “The EEF has had dressage and jumping working groups for some time and the Olympic 2020 agenda was the catalyst to setting up an eventing one. They asked me to chair it.

    “Christopher’s idea is one of many and we are not at the stage of making a recommendation yet, we are just saying ‘What do we think about this, what do we think about that?’”

    Another idea discussed at the April meeting was to run the Olympic eventing in CIC format, with the team competition at the start of the two-week Olympic period and the individual at the end, which would let the same horses and riders tackle both contests.

    Christopher said: “My idea is just one and I want to stimulate discussion — the more people who can tweak and come up with ideas during the rest of this season, the better it must be for the sport in finding something not just for the Olympics, but perhaps a format for the 21st century.”

    Mike said: “I think it’s great that horsesport has to reinvent itself — it’s not anything that anyone should be afraid of. We need to constantly look at ourselves.”

    British Eventing is also setting up a working group examining how to make the sport more popular.

    Read Christopher’s proposal in full [H&H VIP members only].

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