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National dressage championships cancelled, but sport may resume from July

British Dressage (BD) has confirmed the cancellation of this summer’s national championships, while unveiling detailed plans around the resumption of dressage in the UK from July, following the coronavirus pandemic.

“Unfortunately a large part of the qualifying period has been lost during the suspension period, resulting in the difficult decision to abandon the remainder of the 2020 summer season,” reads a statement from BD.

The national championships were due to be held on 24-27 September at their new home of Somerford Park in Cheshire, but have been called off, along with all remaining Premier League shows, summer regional championships, summer Area Festivals, the internationals at Windsor, Bolesworth, Hartpury and Hickstead and the Quest national championships. This year’s inaugural Summer Area Festival Championships, due to be held at Arena UK, Lincs, on 10-13 September, have also been cancelled.

But BD has released details of its three-phased approach to manage the impact of the crisis on the sport: response, resumption and recovery. Within this plan, members will follow a four-stage move towards full resumption of activity: ride, train, compete and qualify, and BD aims to begin the winter qualifying season on 1 July, subject to government restrictions at that time.

As part of the plans to offer alternative opportunities to members, BD is considering completing the cancelled 2020 winter championships before the end of the year by splitting it into three smaller competitions, should numbers permit. Other options under consideration include carrying over full or part summer qualification already achieved into the qualification period from 1 July to 31 December 2020; holding a one off under-25 British National Championship before the end of the year, and running para championships at gold, silver and bronze levels later in the year.

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“These plans have been developed with considerable uncertainty remaining about what the future will hold, but we believe that the sport is in a strong position to get back under way as soon as government gives the green light,” says BD CEO Jason Brautigam. “While there are not going to be any ‘quick fix’ solutions, we wanted to provide a clear path forward for our members and give some hope for a return to a ‘new normal’, whatever that might look like.”

A number of measures are also currently under consideration by BD to help facilitate resumption of training and competitions at a local and regional level, dependent on government advice and restrictions. These include the possibility of limiting the number of people to attend a competition to two per horse – the rider plus a groom, trainer or owner; increased time between competitors, and changes made to judging and other processes, to ensure social distancing.

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