Category Archives: Equestrian

FEI Jumping Calendar Task Force agrees resolutions at first virtual meeting

The Jumping Calendar Task Force, one of eight discipline-specific task forces created by the FEI to evaluate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the FEI Calendar and propose ways of mitigating its effects, held its first meeting via teleconference yesterday (2 April 2020).

FEI President Ingmar De Vos
FEI President Ingmar De Vos (FEI)

The meeting was chaired by FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez, who has overall responsibility for the FEI Calendar and who will chair each of the discipline Task Forces.

The FEI Secretary General, Sabrina Ibáñez delivered one of the case studies in the opening session at the IF Forum 2017 in Olympic capital Lausanne (SUI). (Getty Images. IF Forum 2017).

The members who joined the teleconference call were the FEI Vice Presidents Mark Samuel (CAN) and Jack Huang (TPE), Chair of the FEI Jumping Committee Stephan Ellenbruch (GER), European Equestrian Federation President Theo Ploegmakers (NED), Jumping Athletes’ Representative Pedro Veniss (BRA) and President of the International Equestrian Organisers Association Peter Bollen (BEL). The FEI Deputy Jumping Director, FEI Calendar Administrator and the Directors of the FEI IT, Legal and Governance departments were also on the call.

Key topics discussed by the group during the almost three-hour meeting:

The deadline for National Federations to come back to the FEI with proposed alternative dates for Events looking to reschedule in 2020
The rules relating to date clashes and late-date/date change applications
Possible initiatives to help Organisers
The impact of the new Olympic Games dates on the FEI Calendar 2021

The conclusions and resolutions from the Jumping Calendar Task Force will now go to the FEI Board for consideration at a specially convened Board teleconference next week.

Following this, the principles agreed by the Board will be shared with the other seven Task Forces that will evaluate the impact of the virus on the FEI Calendar for Dressage, Para Dressage, Eventing, Driving, Endurance, Vaulting and Reining. Each of these Task Forces, which will hold their meetings in the coming days, consists of the core group plus the Chair of the relevant Technical Committee, a representative of the Athletes and the FEI Sports Director of the specific discipline.

The FEI President is to be kept fully updated on the work of each of the Task Forces and, where required, will assist in finalising proposals for solutions to be put forward to the FEI Board for approval.

Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2019/2020 Western European League: Gulliksen Posts Career-Defining Victory in Gothenburg

Norwegian veteran steals all the limelight in dramatic final WEL qualifier

Norway’s Geir Gulliksen posted the first World Cup victory of his long and successful career in the thrilling 14th and last qualifier of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2019/2020 Western European League (WEL) in Gothenburg, Sweden today where he pinned young Swiss star Bryan Balsiger into second place and French Olympic gold medallist, Kevin Staut, into third.

But, not satisfied with having stolen the show with the ride of his life on his brave little gelding VDL Groep Quatro, Gulliksen added even more drama when taking a tumble from the horse during the prizegiving.

“I feel fine actually – except for my arse! I wouldn’t change anything that happened today. This crowd – of all the shows in the whole world there is no crowd like this. Even to fall off it doesn’t matter, I couldn’t be happier. This is definitely the highlight of my career!”

Geir Gulliksen (NOR)

said the 60-year-old rider afterwards.

The result saw him rocket up to 10th place in the WEL rankings so he’s now well-qualified for the much-anticipated Longines 2020 Final in Las Vegas, USA next April where current league leader, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat, will defend his title for the fourth time. A total of 18 riders from the Western European League, apart from the defending champion, have now booked their tickets to the showdown in the Nevada desert, and Balsiger claimed his spot by moving into 15th place while Staut was already guaranteed a place, finishing fourth on the final leaderboard after a great run over the winter months.

The contours of the Scandinavium Arena always ensures a strong challenge, and today was no exception as only five of the 32 starters found the key to Peter Lundstrom’s tough 14-fence first-round track. The spectators groaned loudest when their own Henrik von Eckermann (Peter Pan) and Peder Fredricson (H&M Christian K) made it all the way to the very last fence only to pick up a fault there, but their long-time hero Rolf-Goran Bengtsson saved the day when making the cut with the big grey, Cassilano Jmen.

He was first to go against the clock with this relatively new ride and left the door open with two fences on the floor in 48.52 seconds. Gulliksen was next into the ring, and his little 14-year-old gelding gave him everything he had to come home clear in 45.75 seconds to put it up to the remaining three.

Belgium’s Olivier Philippaerts looked set to knock the Norwegian off his pedestal until H&M Legend of Love hit the first element of the double halfway around the new track, and Staut looked really threatening with the super-fast For Joy van’t Zorgvliet HDC who raced home in the quickest time of 44.51 seconds but lowered the vertical third fence along the way.

Now only Balsiger could stop Gulliksen from taking the win, and this talented 22-year-old who won the opening leg of the series in Oslo last October made no mistake, bringing the 13-year-old mare Twenytwo Des Biches home in 46.45 seconds which slotted him into second place. It would a glorious day for Gulliksen, and despite his sore bottom he was in flying form during the post-competition press conference.

LONGINES FEI WORLD CUP JUMPING Geir Gulliksen – Vdl Groep Quatro NOR photo FEI Satu Pirinen

“I’ve been coming to this show for 27 or 28 years and I always hoped for a day like this!” he said. And he talked about the courageous little VDL Groep Quatro who carried him to glory this evening.

“I bought him from (Dutch rider) Mikael van de Vleuten and I think no one thought he would jump like he jumped today…..

“He doesn’t have all the scope but he is so athletic and he believes he’s just as good as any other horse! There was no place on the course today where I thought he would struggle – he just makes it happen. He’s a bit like a pony, and he never stops – he amazes me more and more!”

Geir Gulliksen (NOR)

The International Horse Sports Confederation Elects New President…

The International Horse Sports Confederation Elects New President; Identifies Further Development Toward a New Vaccine for African Horse Sickness

The International Horse Sports Confederation (IHSC) held its General Assembly on 7 December 2019 at the Hong Kong Jockey Club where the group elected a new President and received a number of important updates on its strategic projects, including the ongoing development of a new vaccine for African Horse Sickness (AHS).

Ingmar De Vos, President of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) was unanimously elected President of the IHSC for a two-year term. He had previously served as the IHSC’s Vice-President. Louis Romanet, past President of IHSC and Chairman of IFHA, was also elected as Vice-President of IHSC for a two-year term.

A Belgian native, De Vos has served as President of the FEI since 2014 after previously serving as the International Federation’s Secretary General. He has been a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) since September 2017, where he is currently member of two Commissions, the Legal Affairs Commission and the Los Angeles 2028 Coordination Commission, while he has also served in the past as a member of the Digital and Technology Commission. He is a member of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) governance taskforce and since April 2019 he is also an ASOIF Council Member.

In early November 2018 he was appointed to the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) Council and as the GAISF representative on the 12-member World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Executive Committee. As of 1 January 2020, he will be the ASOIF representative on the WADA Executive Committee and Foundation Board. He is also on the board of the Belgian National Olympic Committee.

FEI President Ingmar De Vos
FEI President Ingmar De Vos was unanimously elected President of the IHSC for a two-year term at the IHSC General Assembly in Hong Kong earlier this month. He will officially take office on 1 January 2020. (FEI)

Following his election as IHSC President, Ingmar de Vos said:

“I’m extremely honored to be elected President of the IHSC and I would also like to thank our past President Louis Romanet for his dedication to the successful cooperation and information exchange between horse racing and equestrian sport through the IHSC. Under his leadership, the IHSC has continued the relationship with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the further development of the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code and concepts that will facilitate horse movements such as the HHP Framework with the HHP Handbook and IHSC-OIE Regional Workshops for Temporary International Movement of Competition Horses. Besides this, further scientific research was done in the field of vaccines for AHS, Equine Influenza and Glanders, the adoption of revised international standards on equine diseases and other standards relevant to international movement of horses.

He continued:

“Our Confederation represents the peak bodies of our respective sports and I look forward to furthering the collective interests of our Federations in the areas of equine welfare, the international movement of horses, and collaboration with the OIE.”

Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ WEL 2019/2020: Dutchman Van der Vleuten wins…

Runner-up, Italy’s Gaudiano, moves to third on Western European League table

The Netherlands’ Maikel van der Vleuten showed the rest a clean pair of heels in a thrill-a-minute 13-horse jump-off to win the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2019/2020 Western European League qualifier in La Coruña, Spain today.

There were 40 riders from 16 different countries chasing down points in the race for a place at the Longines 2020 Final in Las Vegas, USA next April. And this seventh round of the 14-leg qualifying series was a sizzler, with anything possible right to the very end.

Longines FEI World Cupª Jumping – Final III
Trophy and Branding

Van der Vleuten clinched it however with an exhibition of pure partnership with the lovely Beauville Z, a gelding he has been riding since the middle of last year. Ace Spanish course designer, Santiago Varela, set them a jump-off track with multiple twists and turns and a long gallop to the last that tested trust and understanding between horse and rider every step of the way. And it was the double-Olympian who showed them all how it should be done.

Typically modest, the 31-year-old Dutchman said afterwards,

“Sometimes a jump-off doesn’t go as planned and you have to put in a waiting distance, but today it was all very smooth and we had a great rhythm all the way. My horse was very good, he stayed with me, and out of all the turns we got a nice forward distance”

Maikel van der Vleuten (NED)

First against the clock, Ireland’s Michael G Duffy set the target when clear with Lapuccino Z in 39.95 seconds, but the lead kept changing until, seventh to go, Van der Vleuten came into the ring and clearly left them with very little to play with. The Dutch horse-and-rider partnership were in complete harmony as they found the tightest lines everywhere on the course and galloped through the timers to set a whole new standard in 36.94 seconds.

A CORUÑA, SPAIN – DECEMBER 15: CSI 5* W A Coruña 2019 at Centro Hipico Casas Novas on December 15, 2019 in A Coruna, Spain. (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos / Oxer Sport)

However there were still six to go, and plenty more excitement ahead. Pieter Clemens, one of three Belgians into the second-round decider, was ousted from runner-up spot by Italy’s Emanuele Gaudiano and the extraordinary Chalou who stopped the clock on 37.66 seconds. And as they set off it seemed more than possible that, third-last to go, America’s Jessica Springsteen and the super-fast RMF Zecilie could alter the standings until they clipped the very first fence.

Then the Spanish crowd gasped in disbelief when their own star, Eduardo Alvarez Aznar, was jumped out of the saddle when his long-time faithful steed, Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Margot, went into orbit over the vertical third fence off a tight turn. And when Frenchman Olivier Robert (Vivaldi es Meneaux) left one on the floor it was a done deal, and a Dutch one at that….

Talking about Beauville Z which is owned by Spain’s Marta Ortega, Van der Vleuten said, “he’s still only nine and not at this level for long – I think he’ll grow into a great horse, he’s the kind of horse you need to be competitive at this level”.

The Dutch rider is now going to take a short break from the World Cup circuit until early in the new year. “I’m hoping I’ll get a few more chances to get my points for the Final – after today I think about 10 more should be enough” he pointed out, having moved his points tally up to 32 which leaves him lying fifth on the Western European League table ahead of the next leg at Olympia, London (GBR) next Saturday (21 December).

FEI President opens in-person Board meeting at FEI General Assembly 2019

FEI President Ingmar De Vos opened the first in-person meeting of the FEI Board at the FEI General Assembly 2019 in Moscow (RUS) with a vote of thanks to outgoing Board members and a particular vote of thanks to the Russian hosts.

The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, posted a personal message on the Kremlin website welcoming the FEI President and delegates of the FEI General Assembly to the Russian capital for the first time.

FEI President opens in-person Board meeting at FEI General Assembly 2019

Persons whose terms of office have come to an end and who were personally thanked by the FEI President for their distinguished service include FEI Vice President H.E. Sheikh Khalid (BRN) and Chair of FEI Regional Group VII from 2006 to 2019, Sadyr Mamytov (KGZ), who has chaired Regional Group III from 2015 to 2019, Medical Committee Chair Dr Peter Whitehead (GBR) from 2009 to 2019), and FEI Tribunal Chair Henrik Arle (FIN) from 2011 to 2019. Betty Wates (JAM), who has chaired the FEI Nominations Committee since 2015, has also completed her four-year term.

The FEI Board, the body responsible for the general direction of the FEI and for all relevant matters not consigned to the General Assembly, held its meeting at the Hyatt Regency Moscow Petrovsky Park, venue for the full FEI General Assembly 2019.

FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2019/2020: Western European League Dalera and von Bredow-Werndl beat Weihegold and Werth

German riders claim top five places and dominate WEL leaderboard

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl was “over the moon” with delight after winning the third leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2019/2020 Western European League on home ground at Stuttgart (GER) today. Riding the 12-year-old Trakehner mare TSF Dalera BB with which she claimed team gold at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon (USA) and individual Freestyle bronze at this summer’s European Championships in Rotterdam (NED), she produced a breathtaking performance to pin defending triple-champions Isabell Werth and Weihegold into second place.

The host nation completely dominated the line-up with Helen Langehanenberg, Dorothee Schneider and Benjamin Werndl finishing third, fourth and fifth. For von Bredow-Werndl this was a very special result.

““It’s like Christmas coming early!”

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (GER)

she said this evening.

Werth, winner with Emilio at the second leg of the series in Lyon (FRA) two weeks ago, looked set to march to victory once again after topping yesterday’s Grand Prix in which today’s winner had to settle for second place. But a couple of blips saw the legendary lady trailing her team-mate who set a massive target-score of 88.440 when second-last to go.

The Freestyle began with Ireland’s Judy Reynolds and Vancouver K putting 80.755 on the board, and this pair, who got the worst of the draw after finishing an uncharacteristic 11th in the Grand Prix, were still out in front with just five of the 15 starters – all of them German – left to compete.

Helen Langehanenberg demoted the Irish duo with a brilliant performance from her 17-year-old stallion Damsey FRH who danced up the centreline with foot-perfect tempi-changes to post 83.735. And when Dorothee Schneider and DSP Sammy Davis Jr slotted in close behind with 83.395 and Benjamin Werndl and Daily Mirror scored 80.900 then it was 2013 series champion Langehanenberg who was still in command with just two left to run.

But Benjamin’s sister, 33-year-old Jessica, turned the class on it’s head with a technically brilliant performance from Dalera that also sparkled.

“She gave me a feeling I’ve never had before! In Rotterdam she was already amazing but today it felt even lighter and easier. Every piaffe was amazing, every transition every passage and pirouette, every half-pass…..I’m so excited about our future now!”

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (GER)

“Nailed it!” Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl won today’s third leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2019/2020 Western European League on home ground in Stuttgart (GER) with a brilliant performance from TSF Dalera BB. (FEI/Lukasz Kowalski)

As Werth set off with her last-to-go ride however it seemed only a matter of form that she would overtake her compatriot’s score. But Weihegold’s test wasn’t clean, and despite a confident one-handed passage to finish, their mark of 87.240 would only be good enough for runner-up spot. “I had super piaffe/passage but had two little mistakes. I maybe risked too much – Jessica deserves to win tonight”, said the five-time champion who is chasing down four titles in a row.

“Stuttgart is one of the toughest qualifiers for the World Cup so it feels like winning at Aachen or at a Championship! I couldn’t be more happy, I knew this was possible but it’s still like a dream come true!” said von Bredow-Werndl. She’s aiming for the series Final in Las Vegas, USA next April but not with today’s winning ride. “I want to take Zaire to Las Vegas, and I’m trying to prepare Dalera for the Olympics next summer. Tokyo is already for sure somewhere in my head, and I would be delighted to be part of Team Germany there”, she pointed out.

The top nine on the Western European League will qualify for the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2020 Final, and after the first three qualifiers the leading four on the league table are all Germans – von Bredow-Werndl and Frederic Wandres sharing pole position followed by Langehanenberg in third and Benjamin Werndl in fourth place.

The next leg will take place in Madrid (ESP) in two weeks’ time.

FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2019/2020 Western European League: Werth pips Dujardin in exciting second leg at Lyon

It’s three-in-a-row at the French fixture for the defending series champion

Germany’s Isabell Werth showed exactly why she is known as The Queen of international dressage when, on her debut in the 2019/2020 FEI Dressage World Cup™ Western European League at the second leg in Lyon, France today, she produced yet another of her right-royal victories.

Partnering the 13-year-old gelding Emilio she was pinned into second place in yesterday’s Grand Prix won by Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin and her latest shining star, the 10-year-old mare Mount St John Freestyle. But today the German legend did what she does best and fought back to win the Lyon leg for the third consecutive year when putting a massive 87.090 on the board.

There was great anticipation of the clash between Werth, who has taken the series title a total of five times including the last three in succession, and Dujardin who was twice crowned champion with the great Valegro. It was at the 2014 Final in Lyon that the British rider first lifted the coveted FEI Dressage World Cup™ trophy, and fans are super-excited to see her back fighting for the supremacy she held in the sport during the heady years before Valegro’s retirement in December 2016. She’s aiming for a spot at the 2020 Final in Las Vegas, USA next April so made a great start to her points-campaign when collecting the maximum 20 today – as defending champion Werth doesn’t need to collect points, instead she is only obliged to compete twice with her horse of choice in order to qualify.

Werth is the ultimate competitor, already relishing the return of potentially her biggest rival over the coming season and beyond. She always says that competing against the best raises everybody’s game.

“Welcome back Charlotte! It’s good to have the best in the field, and that is also what the public like to see! It’s great to have Charlotte away from her island – now the World Cup season will be really exciting!”

Isabell Werth (GER)

said the lady who is herself a longtime legend, with more medals in her trophy cabinet than any other athlete in the history of equestrian sport.

When she came into the ring, fifth-last to go, she was chasing the leading score of 80.015 set by compatriot, Frederic Wandres, riding Duke of Britain. And the crowd were clapping even before she started. “It was a wonderful crowd, the stands were full and the atmosphere was great. This is the second time I rode this Freestyle with this music and I really like it. I’m really happy and proud of Emilio. When you ride the last line and the crowd starts to clap you know you are in a good position!” Werth said after putting that 87.090 up in lights, despite taking the time out during her test to signal, on three occasions, for her music level to be turned up.

She was still holding sway when, last to go, Dujardin came into the ring, aware that her mare was more tense today. “Yesterday at the prize-giving she was quite stressed and today when she saw so many people she thought we were doing another prizegiving. I felt her stressed and a little worried going into the arena but I’m very proud and happy with how she behaved. She lacks experience and I have to keep her with me, but this was super experience for the future and I think she will become hard to beat!”, she said after putting 83.925 on the board for runner-up spot.

FEI Dressage World CupTM. Equita Lyon 2019. © FEI / Eric KNOLL. Remise des Prix
Isabell WERTH (GER). EMILIO 107

Dujardin is already looking down the road to the series Final, and the experience her mare can pick up along the way. “I will go to Olympia (London, GBR) and this will again be a big show with a big crowd and a great atmosphere. Then I plan to go to Amsterdam and hopefully Las Vegas!” she pointed out.

Third-placed Wandres, who posted a mark of 80.015, was delighted with his result. “When I saw the rider-list here I thought it could be difficult to do well, but now being third behind the two Dressage Queens is fantastic! With Duke it is special as we learned together. It is now our second Grand Prix season and we keep progressing”, he said.

Today’s winning Freestyle score was just fractionally below a personal-best for Werth and Emilio as a combination, and the lady who is in the privileged position of having multiple top-rides including her two super-mares Weihegold and Bella Rose is delighted that the 2019/2020 Western European League is off to such an impressive start. “Herning (the first leg in Denmark) has already taken place and the level was already very high. It is not only Charlotte but lots of good riders taking part, so it will be interesting to see what will happen in Vegas”, said the rider on whose home ground in Stuttgart (GER) the third round of the 11-leg league will take place in two weeks’ time.

By Louise Parkes