A new wild card scheme will give showing enthusiasts further chances to qualify for Horse of the Year Show (HOYS).
The initiative, launched this year, will reward consistently well placed competitors in the HOYS showing qualifiers.
There will be one wild card across all of the ridden pony classes and one wild card across all of the ridden horse classes.
“The wild cards recognise the high quality of dependable performers who may have previously been unsuccessful in qualifying,” said a spokesman for HOYS.
“Some competitors were placed second in large classes on up to five separate occasions, demonstrating that these horses and ponies are of very high standards.”
H&H columnist and leading show producer Katie Jerram welcomed the news.
“It’s a super opportunity for someone that’s been the bridesmaid but never the bride,” she told H&H.
“I hope it goes to an amateur competitor — they’re the ones that travel up and down the country to go the qualifiers.”
The wild card system will tie into the most consistent award series, which takes place for the third time in the run-up to this year’s HOYS (7-11 October).
Riders who receive the most consistent award are rewarded for their continued high placings in qualifiers, even if they do not win a ticket to HOYS.
This year, all horses and ponies that top their relevant ridden section of the awards but who have not already qualified for HOYS, will have the chance to be awarded a wild card entry.
The best five results of each horse and pony earned throughout the 2015 season will be considered. The calculation will be the same system used to decide the awards — five points for a win, counting back to one point for fifth place.
The horse and pony with the highest number of points will then be awarded a wild card.
In the event of a tie, there will be a live draw hosted on the HOYS website to allocate the wild card.
A HOYS spokesman confirmed that it is the horse or pony that qualifies through the wild card system, regardless of who is riding them.
Katie added that the prospect of a wild card might give qualifying shows a boost in competitor numbers.
“The only thing that concerns me is that owners and riders might go to too many qualifiers to be in with a chance,” she said.
“Also I think it should be the same rider on the same horse.”
Amateur show rider Chris Sage embraced the scheme.
“It’s definitely a good thing,” he said.
“It would be nice for someone new and fresh to get the chance to qualify.
“I haven’t been riding for very long and it would encourage me to compete — I’m desperate to get to the bigger shows.”