Our Badminton Grassroots coverage is brought to you by our supporter The Herbal Horse. For more information please see the bottom of this post.
Badminton is without question the number one competitive dream for the vast majority of British eventers. Most of us have long given up hope of reaching the 4* competition in anything but a spectator capacity, but what was the Grassroots championship (but from 2016 onwards will be known as the Mitsubishi Motors Cup) is in realistic reach for all eligible combinations.
So to the question at hand, how do you qualify and how good do you need to be to get there?
The route for qualification depends on the level at which you are competing. Before you set out on your dream, ensure you are eligible as there is nothing like the bitter disappointment of later finding out you are not.
The following riders/horses are not eligible to qualify for the finals.
– Riders who have completed an Intermediate in any of the current or last 10 seasons.
– Riders who have ever competed at 4* (This importantly includes starting an event, not just completing it.)
– Horses with points (the only exception is horses who qualify for the finals with no points and proceed to gain a maximum of 7 points prior to the ballot date of the finals.)
– Downgraded horses.
So, you have clarified you are eligible, so now to start trying to qualify. You firstly need to gain a Qualifying Result (QR) at a standard BE90, BE90 open, BE100 or BE100open. A qualifying result is to finish in the top 10% of a BE90 section or top 20% of a BE100. BE round up when working out how many combinations achieve a QR from a section and count all competitive starters in the section, but importantly not HC combinations.
Every QR achieved between 1st July of the previous season and the 30th June of the current season entitles you to enter one Regional Final (RF) in the current season, which are held August to October at venues around the country. You can compete in as many RFs as you have QRs. So if for example you achieved 3 BE90 QRs and 1 BE100 QR in the qualifying period you can compete in 3 BE90 RFs and 1 BE100 RF.
From regional finals the top 20% qualify for the finals. If you are lucky enough to qualify on your first attempt and are entered in further RFs at the same level on the same horse you are required to inform the secretary who will wherever possible transfer you to a standard section but otherwise you will be required to withdraw. If you are entered for further RFs but at the other level (i.e. you qualify at BE100 but still have a BE90 RF to attend) you can still enter competitively and potentially qualify. If you do qualify at both levels with the same horse you then have the choice of which level to compete at at the finals.
Riders may qualify and compete multiple horses at the finals at both levels. All qualifications including QRs must be achieved as a combination. No horse or rider substitutions are allowed, although a rider substitution at a RF in very rare circumstances can be authorised by the Chief Executive.
There are also 2 other alternative direct qualification routes for the finals. The winners of the BE90 and BE100 Scottish Championships plus the top 10% from any BE100 3DE or BE100 Open 3DE held in the current season will qualify for the following season’s final, presuming the combinations are eligible.
So lastly, realistically how good do you need to be to qualify for the finals? A lot will ultimately come down to luck and conditions on the day of the RF, but you have to get there first. To achieve a QR you need to be achieving dressage scores of around 30 penalties and jumping double clears. A particularly wet event may mean those with not so good dressage but which are solid jumpers can also creep into those QR placings.
At the regionals there is no escaping the fact it can often turn into a dressage competition, especially at BE90. There have been instances where entire regional sections have have 30+ riders within 5 penalties.
For this year’s BE90 final the highest score that achieved a qualifying result at the regionals was 38.5 (note the vast majority of regional qualifiers finished on scores of 30 or less) but riders with scores as low as 26.5 did not qualify at other regionals. For the BE100 regionals finals it is a bit less of a dressage competition, with the highest score achieving a qualifying result being 37, with the lowest score not achieving a qualifying result being 31.
Ultimately you need to be riding a horse that regularly jumps double clear and is capable of sub 30 dressage for BE90 and near enough 30 penalties for BE100, to be in with a chance of qualifying for the final.
If you manage to secure a golden (!) ticket to the finals you will need to do your preparation as it isn’t just another competition. Firstly the finals are run as + competitions so as BE100+ and BE90+, this essentially means a more difficult dressage test (with two judges) and a larger showjumping course. The Cross Country maintains the same dimensions as the original level, but is of championship length and technicality. The first few years as the championships bedded in and the level of competitors was evaluated the finals were somewhat of a ‘dressage contest’ but the last couple of years a beefed-up cross country course combined with increased spectators and therefore a more intense atmosphere has resulted in the cross country being far more influential on the results. The fence that has caused the majority of issues especially last year was the traditional coffin, it wasn’t new last year but the fence profile going in resulted in it being a far more complex question for the horses to understand.
There are apparently some changes afoot to the competition and possibly the format so although the above is correct at the time of going to press further details regarding the new Mitsubishi Motors Cup will be made available before the 2016 Regional Finals start in August.
In the meantime the 2015 finalists who are now in their final countdown with little over 2 weeks to go will be preparing to battle it out to win, and therefore be the eternal Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots champions.
This post was bought to you by The Herbal Horse who make products such as Sport Horse Mix. Please take the time to visit our supporters to see what they can offer you as without them we wouldn’t be able to to run e-Venting.