British Dressage National Championship 2015 Competitors to Watch & Qualifying Score Analysis

Using the qualifying results of all the competitors for the British Dressage National Championships and the wildcard qualifiers from the British Dressage website I have been able to analyse the results and answer the following questions:


  • Prelim to Advanced-Medium levels qualify for the National Championship via the Summer Regional Championships and are included in this page.
  • PSG, Inter 1, Inter 2 and Grand Prix qualification is via the Premier League as well as the Regional Championships and have not been analysed on this page.

Competitors to Watch

The scores in the Regionals are a guide to the scores at the National Championships. As with many things in life, past performance is not a guarantee of future performance and this is especially true with horses so this is only a guide. The following list of competitors to watch are competitors whose qualifying scores indicate that they may be in the Top 3 of their class at The Nationals:

Advanced Medium – Open
Mette AssoulineAd Ratino
Kate CowellDahling
Tom GoodeDior III
Joanna HamiltonCorchapin
Zoe SleighDark Legend
Medium – Open
Charlotte DujardinMount St John Freestyle
Phoebe PetersSL Lucci
Amy WoodheadDelicato
Elementary – Open
Sadie SmithRiver Rise Escarla
Darryll ThickittFhariermaus
Laura WollenWoodlander Buddy Holly
Novice – Open
Lucy CartwrightSan Marco
Jessica DunnMFS French Noir
Vanessa WorthingtonMaradonner
Advanced Medium – Restricted
Sadie SmithSerano II
Keystone Dynamite
Diane Thurman-BakerHighcliffe Apollo
Sadie Smith achieved 2 of the highest qualifying scores on these horses so she stands a very chance of being on the top of the podium in this class.
Medium – Restricted
Alex BakerNibley Uj Lady Lara
Francesca ChannonAndreo B
Nicola Diane HealeSeramai
Elementary – Restricted
Hayley Jane BatesFirst Kirche
Daniel BremnerNewton Domino
Bea BurnhamAzara
Jessica CarlinRouletta
Rebecca ClackPolos Discovery
Russell GuireTresaison Roulette
Rebecca JacksonBlixem
Evelyn LittleBindro T
Charlotte MonkBeauty B
Debbie MurrayFancy Man Mfs
Lauren NobleHeartbreak
Sophie QuartermanKnightswoods Diamond Geezer
This will be the most competitive class at the Nationals. All these competitors scored over 70% and were within 1% of the highest score!
Novice – Restricted
Dylan DeutromBalance
Lucinda ElliottMount St John Best Of All
Stephanie SweetDolle Jung
Rebecca CrowRJT Bright Penny
Philip GoverDeutz
Elijah LovellSheepcote Lets Go

Return to top of page

Video Advert for Chris Atkin, Equine Videographer

Average Qualifying Scores

The overall average qualifying scores over the last 3 years shows a that average scores are getting higher. This reflects the general consensus that the standard of British Dressage is improving.

Average Qualifying Score:201320142015
Dressage Summer 2015 Regional Championships: Average Qualifying Scores in Restricted & Open Sections
Average Qualifying Scores in Restricted & Open Sections

Looking in a bit more detail at the average qualifying scores in the Open and Restricted sections analysis reveals that the average qualifying scores across all classes for the Open is 1.8% higher than the Restricted sections. Obviously this is as expected since Open riders are more experienced than Restricted riders and would therefore be expected to be able to achieve higher scores.

The average gap between Open and Restricted qualifying scores varies slightly from year to year and with a small sample of 3 years there seems to be a trend that the gap between Open and Restricted riders is closing. However from a statistical point of view 3 years is not a long enough period to say this for certain especially since the gap opened up a bit this year compared to last year!

Average Gap: Restricted to Open:201320142015

Return to top of page

How many competitors automatically qualify?

British Dressage automatic qualification numbers at Summer Regional Championships 2015
Photo Showing Numbers to Qualify (click for large readable image in a new window)

Automatic qualification is achieved by the winner and some of the higher placings depending on BD’s qualification rules. These rules are not documented in the Members Handbook, they are pinned to the notice board near the results at each of The Regionals. The photo shows the note at Mount Ballan for the Summer Regionals 2015. I believe that this enables British Dressage to vary the automatic qualification rules in order to achieve the required number of competitors in each class at The Nationals. I know that these automatic qualification rules changed between Summer and Winter Regionals in 2015. I will check next year if they vary from year to year for the Summer Regionals.

I believe that British Dressage do not publish the automatic qualification rules in the Members Handbook because they need flexibility to vary the qualification criteria in order to ensure The Nationals run to time with the required number of competitors in each class.

The Nationals runs over a fixed number of days and therefore has a maximum number of competitors. British Dressage therefore allocate a proportion of the time to each class which means that each class has a fixed number of competitors in the time allowed for the class. The automatic qualification must therefore not qualify too many competitors for the time allowed so British Dressage vary the automatic qualification criteria to ensure that the number of competitors in each section is not achieved. British Dressage then allocate wildcards to fill the time available for each class. This ensure that exactly the right number of competitors qualify for each class and The Nationals run to time.

Return to top of page

How are Wildcards Allocated?

I cannot find any formal rules or policy for the allocation of wildcards. However, by reviewing the scores in my spreadsheet I believe that:

  • Competitors scores from all venues are sorted into score order
  • Wildcards are allocated to competitors with the next highest qualifying score from any venue
  • Wildcards are allocated until the class has the required number of competitors

In other words the competitors score is the only thing that is taken into account when allocating wildcards – the venue or other factors do not appear to have any influence on the wildcard allocation.

It is obviously not normally possible to compare dressage scores from different judges. However, Regionals always have 3 judges for each test. The use of 3 judges will “average out” the difference in the scoring between judges so that it is realistic to compare the scores achieved at different venues.

British Dressage aim to have the highest scoring competitors at The Nationals. So the automatic and wild card qualification scores should be the highest scores achieved at any of The Regionals. However, looking at the results there are a lot of non-qualifying competitors who achieved a higher score than a competitor who has automatically qualified at a lower scoring venue.

I believe that British Dressage need to review the automatic and wildcard allocation rules because the current system does not seem to work for either British Dressage or competitors:

  • British Dressage want The National Championships to be the showcase for the best British dressage. The current system means there are too many competitors with high scores who do not get to The Nationals replaced by competitors with lower scores but with a high place at their Regional Championship.
  • Competitors with a high non qualifying score feel frustrated because if they had gone to another venue they would have qualified.

Many competitive sports have elements of the rules that may be considered unfair so to a certain extent competitors have to accept that these are the rules and just get on with it. However, we also want British dressage to be successful on a world stage so we need to ensure that the best competitors are rewarded with qualification for National Championships. So for the good of the sport it would be useful to review if there is a better method of selecting competitors from the Regionals to compete at the Nationals.

However being realistic, with the introduction of the new competition structure on 1st December 2015 I think British Dressage will have other things to think about than changing the automatic and wildcard system!

Return to top of page

What is the distribution of wildcards by venue?

This chart shows the percentage of qualifiers from each of the Regional Championships that have qualified with a wildcard. As a general statement the higher scoring venues get a higher number of wild cards demonstrated by Keysoe and Sparsholt which both high scoring venues with a large percentage of wildcards.

British Dressage National Championship 2015 Wildcard Qualifications

Sommerford got the lowest percentage of wildcards but it is not a very low scoring venue. I suspect that this may just be a statistical anomaly caused by the distribution of scores at Somerford.

Return to top of page

What are the overall scores in each class?

The chart below shows the minimum, maximum and average qualifying scores for each class at all the Regionals.

British Dressage National Championship 2015 Minimum, Maximum and Average Qualifying Scores by Test
Minimum Maximum Average Qualifying Scores for each Test

This chart shows that:

  • at each level the Open qualifying scores are higher than the same level as the Restricted class at the same level which is expected given the greater experience of Open competitors
  • the maximum scores are achieved at Novice level in both the Open and Restricted sections. The section with the highest maximum scores varies from year to year. Last year the Elementary section achieved the highest maximum scores. In 2013 the Advanced Medium Open and the Elementary Restricted achieved the highest maximum marks. In general the highest marks will be achieved in either the Novice or Elementary level for both Restricted and Open competitors. The exception in 2013 with the very high maximum mark in the Advanced Medium Open was caused by an exceptional horse – Woodlander Farouche.
  • in the Restricted sections the average qualifying scores reduce as you go up the levels. Compare this to the Open section where the average score is broadly similar only dropping for the Advanced Medium. This indicates to me that the more experienced Open riders are able to achieve more consistent scores as they go up the levels.

Return to top of page

Average Qualifying Scores by Venue

In 2015 all venues have achieved an average qualification score of over 70% which again reflects the higher standard of British dressage. In 2013 and 2014 Addington achieved the highest average qualification score but this year the standard at Keysoe was extremely high and this knocked Addington off the top spot. Addington in fact dropped to 5th place.

Average Qualifying Score:The CabinPort RoyalSomerfordKeysoeAddingtonMount BallanSparsholt
70.60% (6)70.73% (3)70.70% (4)71.12% (1)70.63% (5)70.92% (2)70.52% (7)

I would speculate that Addington may be a victim of its own success because competitors are deciding to go to another venue because there is more chance of getting an automatic qualification at another lower scoring venue.

If the wildcard qualifiers are removed and only the automatic qualifiers are left in the analysis then Sparsholt has the highest automatic average qualification score. Sparsholt achieved the highest average automatic qualification score in 2014 as well.

Average Automatic Qualifying Score:The CabinPort RoyalSomerfordKeysoeAddingtonMount BallanSparsholt
71.04% (4)70.90% (5)70.80% (7)71.45% (2)70.83% (6)71.35% (3)71.73% (1)

Return to top of page

Which Regionals had the most qualifiers?

British Dressage National Championship 2015 Qualifiers from each Regional Championship
Number of Qualifiers

The pie chart has the venues in north to south order in a clockwise direction from 12:00. The pie chart shows that there are three venues on the left hand side of the chart compared to four venues on the right side of the chart which indicates that there are more competitors qualified for the championship as you move south in the UK (i.e. there are more qualifiers from Addington, Mount Ballon, Sparsholt).

To further compare the venues the following tables shows how many of the highest and lowest scores at each level were achieved at each venue.

Number of:The CabinPort RoyalSomerfordKeysoeAddingtonMount BallanSparsholt
Highest qualifying scores1121013
Lowest qualifying scores1121121

Compared to previous years the distribution of the highest & lowest scores is much more evenly distributed across the country. Sparsholt stands out with 3 of the highest qualifying scores and Addington where there were no highest qualification scores in any of the classes.

Return to top of page


One thought on “British Dressage National Championship 2015 Competitors to Watch & Qualifying Score Analysis

Comments are closed.