The inaugural British Dressage (BD) Natives championship held at Solihull Riding Club last weekend (29-30 October), courted praise and controversy.
The show attracted almost 500 entries, far exceeding BD’s expectations.
“We were anticipating about 150 entries, based on the uptake in the other new championships,” BD’s Paul Graham told H&H.
There were just under 50 gypsy cobs in the championship’s first year, and figures for the first two years of the Spanish championships also attracted double-digit entries.
“In our wildest dreams we did not expect these numbers, so we had to split sections left right and centre,” Mr Graham explained.
This resulted in 28 sets of rosettes being needed — a total of 280 — stretching the show’s budget to the max.
Solihull struggled to cope with the numbers, alerting BD before the show that there may be an issue with capacity.
There was not sufficient stabling over the weekend at the venue — which was shared with the gypsy cob championships — and local boxes were procured to meet demand.
“In a way it’s a massive success story, but it’s a double-edged sword,” added Paul.
Confusion and disappointment
Competitor Nikki Hawkins thought that she and Corstan Rogue Trader were due to collect two sashes after topping both the advanced medium and the prix st georges (PSG) championship classes.
She later discovered that the classes were combined — along with the medium level championship — into a pick-your-own, and she had been awarded third place in the combined class as two of the medium competitors’ scores were higher.
Paul said: “We’d never intended to run these championships up to PSG, but after we published the announcement a few riders called for it so we invited them — but not full blown class, for a pick-your-own. The press release stated it, but some riders didn’t understand.”
Nikki was under the impression the classes were all separate championships.
“BD have recognised that it wasn’t set out very well in the schedule,” she told H&H.
“It doesn’t seem right that I won two out of the three classes, but wasn’t awarded the win.
“I was quite upset when I found out. I didn’t actually go in the prize-giving because I couldn’t go in there smiling for third place when I’d just won two classes.”
BD have agreed to supply Nikki with two sashes and rosettes for her plus-69% and plus-66% wins.
“It was great that they put these championships on,” added Nikki. “There are obviously a lot more natives out there than they thought.”
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Plans are afoot to improve the show for 2017.
“It caught us off guard this year,” said Paul. “The show’s going to move to [Leicestershire venue] Vale View and run over three or four days to allow it to be the full championship it needs to be. And Allen & Page have increased their sponsorship, so we’ll be running the three classes as separate championships.”