This year’s Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) will be devoid of many of Britain’s top show jumpers due to a new ruling by the FEI.
The Birmingham show (12-16 October) is only able to invite the top 10 home riders for the international classes. It previously gave many British riders the chance to compete internationally, running classes at three levels, with riders qualifying according to their horses’ winnings the previous year.
But the FEI’s new rule, brought in 1 January 2005, stipulates at least 50% of the competitors at three- and four-star competitions — HOYS is a four-star show — must be foreign riders. If the full quota of international riders does not enter, home riders cannot be substituted.
The rule was introduced to halt the “paycard situation” on the Continent, where riders had to pay to get into top shows, according to the FEI’s sports director Michael Stone.
Organiser Grandstand Media will invite only the top 10 British riders on the BSJA ranking list at 31 July [to be announced mid-August], with four more qualifying through a wildcard system.
Grandstand’s Mark Wein said: “HOYS has always offered everyone a chance to compete, so this rule goes against everything it stands for. We asked the FEI if the show could be treated as a special case, but were told to toe the line.”
One rider who could be affected is Tim Stockdale, in 11th place as of 30 June.
“I think it’s a mistake to make the cut-off point as the top 10, and not because I might miss out,” he said.