Team chasers have expressed their appreciation of changes made to the sport ahead of the spring season — starting next month — following feedback from competitors at all levels.

In the past, discussion took place at the annual conference that could be attended by open teams only.

But the Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA) team chase committee has invited all riders to put forward views and suggestions on the sport, either in person or via the website (www.teamchasing.co.uk).

And all riders are invited to the annual conference (6 May).

“We’re really pleased to have more input,” said Sara Metcalfe, captain of leading intermediate squad the Foxberry Chasers.

Several new measures have been introduced to encourage more open teams on the circuit.
Committee secretary Belinda Walkinshaw explained: “Some of the better intermediate teams will ‘have a go’ at the occasional open, but it is difficult for them to be competitive at open level.”

The committee also wants to encourage more intermediate teams to compete so this season the Goring Hotel Order of Merit — an accumulator series that offers a £600 first prize — will have separate open and intermediate leagues, with intermediate teams receiving bonus points for competing in open classes.

Teams that did qualify for the national championships had said they were disappointed at the lack of recognition their achievement received. So rosettes will be given to all qualifiers in 2009.

Competitors had said there was too much variation between novice courses, so event organisers have been asked to publish course descriptions on their website to try to establish consistency.

And four-year-old horses can now compete at novice level — the previous age limit was five.

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (19 February, ’09)