Andrew Davies and Robert Bevis have won the first two wild card entries to join Britain’s top 10 riders at this year’s Horse of the Year Show at the NEC in Birmingham.
The number of British riders allowed to compete at HOYS has been limited by the introduction of a new FEI rule, which insists that at least 50% of riders at top international competition must be from abroad.
The chance to compete at HOYS clearly remains an aspiration for many of Britain’s elite riders as they travelled from all over Britain to compete in the wild card qualifying show at Rowallan in Ayrshire earlier this month.
The format consisted of three classes across three days, increasing in height and technicality. It began on day one with a jump off class that began at 1.40m and increased to 1.50m for the second round. This was followed by a 1.45m speed competition on Saturday and a 1.50m grand prix on the final day.
Bevis got off to a good start when producing one of the five double clears in the opening competition with Andrew Saywell’s mare Lucy May.
Davis picked up valuable points when finishing third in the speed class on the Trakehner stallion Sir Graditz, while Bevis produced an excellent round from last draw to finish second behind Keith Shore.
Going into Sunday’s grand prix the points table was so close that there was little margin for error. Davies, lying equal second on points at this stage, asked questions of Sir Graditz at every fence on the demanding track, including taking out a stride out to the final fence. He finished less than 0.5sec ahead, booking his qualifying place and taking the £1,000 first prize.
A fourth place for Bevis was enough to claim the second wild card, following his consistent performances in the opening two classes.
The remaining British riders will get the chance to compete for the other two wild cards at Towerlands on 22-24 September.