Proposals for a qualification system for endurance World Championships could call into question Britain’s participation at future events.
The FEI is considering the move, which would streamline the number of countries taking part at the championships to between 12 and 16 in a bid to improve the standard of competition and answer welfare concerns.
The sport’s rapid growth has resulted in all-comers competing at major championships. At the1998 World Championships, 35 countries competed. As standards have improved, winners have been finishing several hours ahead, while those at the end have arrived home long after the prize-giving ceremonies.
Ian Williams, head of endurance for the FEI, says that proposals for a system of regional qualifiers are currently under consideration, and that they could be in place for the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen.
“No country will be excluded [from qualifiers],” he says, “but this is to ensure that only those nations able to compete at the highest level take part in World Championships.”
Such a move would place Britain in the most competitive grouping and, while the country has a strong record on the medal board over the past 13 years, the interim rankings for 2003 underline the strength of other European nations.