Ok... this one is a bit out there, but it has been knocking around my head for ages and I thought I would see what other people think. First, let me explain where the idea came from. I have listened with interested to the guys at Equi-Ratings (and their brilliant podcast!) as they talk (complain) about the multiplier used in dressage at FEI level. My feeling is that it can give too much space to some riders, complicates an already indecipherable scoring system, and places too much emphasis on the dressage, which encourages riders to put more focus on the dressage, often to the detriment of the jumping phases. There are obvious safety concerns with this too. People are spending so much time improving their dressage scores to keep up that they forget there are two jumping phases to come. After all, isn't cross-country the core of our sport?
So my suggestion... scrap the dressage marks! Not totally, but use them as a ranking system, like a qualifying round before the jumping. So the dressage is performed and marked in the same way, obviously there are still areas to be improved in the judging, but the top placed rider goes forward to the next phase on score of 1, the second on a score of 2, and so on down the line. The best dressage riders are still at the top of the leader board, and if they jump clear will win, and if they don't they can be over taken putting the emphasis back on clear jumping rounds. You still have to be good at dressage, but there is no point in being 5 marks ahead as it won't give you any extra advantage, so you better practice jumping clear rounds!! I haven't done the research, but I usually feel that a 10 mark spread in the top 10 after dressage is about right, which is exactly where this would put us.
Other advantages would include simplifying the scoring for spectators, both the eventing fans and the casual viewer. From the point of view of someone with no knowledge of our sport, a qualifying dressage test to seed the competitors seems much more straight forward. Lets be honest, we are never going to get casual viewers to watch two days of dressage, so there isn't much point in explaining the intricacies of it. This works perfectly well in Formula One with a qualifying day for grid position.
Questions and comments please!! It is a bit radical, but look what they did to the Olympic format!