Top rider to advise on building safer team chase courses

  • Four-times national team chasing champion Debbie Topping is running a course-building seminar today (22 September) as part of ongoing efforts to improve safety.

    Mrs Topping, who also inspects courses, said she would focus on the differences between building a team chase course and general cross-country fences.

    “What can be a safe fence for eventing can be lethal for team chasing,” she said.

    The sport has undergone a safety review following the death of competitor Jo Rugman last year.

    Rules have been updated to state that riders must wear hats and body protectors that meet the most recent safety standards. Hats must also be tagged – as in British Eventing – to indicate that they comply with the rules.

    There have also been discussions about changes to fence and course design.
    “Most courses are good, but I do see things that make me cringe,” said Mrs Topping.

    “For example, a narrow fence with wings that would be fine for eventing could be dangerous as a team chase fence.

    “While it’s perfectly safe for an individual horse to jump, should that horse fall, the other three need an escape route.”

    Mrs Topping’s seminar, which is free, is being held at the Atherstone team chase course. It includes an open discussion and a course-walk.

    Team chasing committee chairman James Buckle said he hoped for a good turnout.

    “It’s important that we all share our experiences – and if we can improve, then we must do so,” he said. “This is an adrenalin sport; that’s why we do it. We want to keep the spirit of team chasing but make it as safe as we possibly can.”

    For more information email debbietopping@live.co.uk.

    This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (20 September 2012)

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