A new competition combining show jumping and racing will be launched at Gleneagles in Scotland next year.
“Sportjumping” has a top prize of £1,000 and aims to allow riders of all level, age and ability to jump in a speed class under a handicapping system — but particularly amateur and semi-professional riders.
“I used to be chairman of the BSJA Scottish Championship Show and one year organised a bookie to come in to create a bit more atmosphere,” said Sportjumping founder Bill Alexander, an amateur show jumper and lawyer.
“People came in off the street to watch. We had some coverage in the Glasgow Herald and it did create more of an atmosphere. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.”
Up to 25 riders per class will jump a show jumping course in an arena against the clock, under rules devised by Mr Alexander, who has an agreement with the BSJA for its members to compete.
Experienced riders will be given a time handicap, enabling amateurs to be more competitive against them.
“Under rule BSJA rule 72.2, members can’t jump at unaffiliated shows with prize money of more than £10,” he said. “But this isn’t an unaffiliated show jumping competition — it’s something completely different.”
Sarah Duncan from Aberdeen show jumps in her spare time.
“If I travel to Ingliston, even in the British Novice classes I have to compete against top riders and it’s hard to get placings — let alone in the bigger classes, so Sportjumping sounds good,” she said.
“But I think the top riders should go first, to give riders down the line something to beat — and I’m not sure 25 people is enough per class. A lot of people travel to shows around the Gleneagles/Rowallan area.”
But Mr Alexander said he expected “teething problems”.
“We’re going to have to work out the handicapping as it gets started, and I think the favourite going last adds to the excitement. Part of this is getting the public to pay to watch and for that you have to have entertainment.”
For more, see this week’s issue of H&H (24 December).