Show centres have told H&H they are “frustrated” that British Showjumping (BS) will not allow them to run popular midweek “Express” shows throughout the summer.
But BS says the restriction is necessary to give young horses a better jumping education.
Under the format, which started in 2009, classes are run as single phase. The first six fences are not timed, but the second six are – dispensing with the need for a jump-off.
“It’s worked really well,” said Tim Price of Addington, Bucks.
“Express shows are midweek so they suit the professionals with several horses. It is the way for us to get a lot of entrants.”
Simon Bates, who runs the College at Keysoe, Beds, agreed. “If you’ve got four or five horses, it is much easier if you only have to jump each horse once,” he told H&H.
And producer Pennie Cornish said she preferred the Express format.
“If you have owners, they don’t want to be standing around all day – it’s much more efficient,” she said.
But Iain Graham, chief executive of BS, stressed that the commercial benefits had to be tempered with the need to nurture young horses.
For this reason, he said, BS would not allow newcomers and Foxhunter classes to be run as single phase in the summer.
“We are trying to achieve a balance by permitting them [Express shows] through the winter months,” he said.
“But the sport has a responsibility to ensure the [good] production of horses where possible.
“The ultimate goal is to get horses to Nations Cup standard and to teach them to go back in the ring and jump two clear rounds,” he added.
Mr Graham said venues could still run single phase classes during the summer – but as an open height class, not a qualifier.
Express classes are not popular with all professionals. Tim Stockdale has used his H&H column (2 February) to call for a debate on single-phase competitions, saying they are “overused”.
Riders appeared to like them for reasons of “ease and simplicity” – not because it was a “good way to produce their horses”, he added.
This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (8 March 2012)