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Stay home and listen live: new innovation in eventing commentary

Live eventing commentary available direct through your headphones via the internet is to be trialled ahead of a full launch at Bicton Horse Trials next week.

Miranda Collett, who is behind live scoring website Eventing Scores, is adding a “listen live” function so people can tune in to hear the commentary through their phones, laptops and tablets — bringing eventing “to your armchair”.

The technology, which is one of a raft of new developments to help the sport get going in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, has been tested previously at past Bicton and Pontispool fixtures, and will be trialled further at Launceston (19 July).

“We just connect the normal cross-country commentary to an internet radio station and feed it out through the Eventing Scores website,” said Ms Collett, adding they have had listeners from afar afield as Spain in the past.

Some events are running without a public tannoy system and Ms Collett said they plan to use the radio commentary whether the on site speakers are working or not.

“There will be slightly less detail on the commentary to normal as we are asking the fence judges to chatter a little bit less because we have to be very clear about the scores coming in,” she said, explaining this is owing to the logistics of how scoring is now being done.

“For Bicton [24-26 July] we are also looking at getting a live stream running. It won’t be nearly as sophisticated as the Horse & Country version from Barbury – just six cameras, one on the showjumping arena and some on the cross-country – but it will be something for those who want to follow but can’t be there.”

Bicton is using the FEI CCI5* test for its advanced intermediate section, to help combinations aiming for Pau in the autumn, and has a stellar line-up.

“We are trying to use the technology to help the people who cannot come to the event and lessen the likelihood of people trying to sneak in — we really cannot have that at the moment and they risk the sport being stopped again should they do so,” she said.

“The message is: stay at home and follow it from your armchair.”

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Other developments include logistical changes to dressage scoring — at Tweseldown the a scorer parked between two dressage judges’ cars to collect the sheets instantly and reduce the number of hands pieces of paper pass between. The showjumping judge and cross-country control put their scores directly into the computer, meaning provisional results were live almost instantly.

“There has been a lot of work putting things together from a lot of people,” she said. “For example, Benji Unwin has the fence judging app that is going to be trialled at Little Downham before the British Eventing (BE) event. That does depend on having phone signal, but it is about putting together a basket of technological possibilities and the organisers can then decide which are right for their fixture.”

Ms Collett added the measures have thrown up several other positive findings they hadn’t predicted.
“People like printing their own numbers, having times and names across the bottom – it saves them the extra trip to the secretaries’ tent,” she said, adding it also helped multiple riders remember which number was for which horse.

“There are definitely some changes we don’t want to lose and we are taking time to reflect on that.”

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