Category Archives: FEI

Historic Home Win for Italy, but Dutch Take 2020 Title

Arianna Schivo (ITA) and Quefira de L’Ormeau. (FEI/Massimo Argenziano)

Team Italy posted a runaway win at the third and last leg of the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ 2020 series on home ground at Montelibretti, but the overall title goes to The Netherlands. In the lead after the first two legs at Le Pin au Haras (FRA) and Strzegom (POL) in August, the Dutch could only be threatened by Poland at this final competition.

A Polish victory would have left them on level pegging with the Dutch at the top of the leaderboard, but it wasn’t to be as they lined up third of the four competing nations who enjoyed a great weekend of sport in the autumn sunshine at the Montemaggiore Estate which is home to Italy’s Military Riding Centre.

Austria finished second while the three-member Swiss side lined up in fourth place. For the Italians this was a really special day because it marked their first-ever FEI Nations Cup™ success according to veteran team member Juan Carlos Garcia.

“We had a good lead after cross-country yesterday, so we had a good feeling going into the showjumping today. But you never know the result until the horses and riders are over the last jump. We are very happy this evening!” — Juan Carlos Garcia (ITA)

Held the lead

Poland held the lead after Dressage, buoyed up by a strong test from Mateusz Kiempa and Lassban Radovix who put 33.79 on the board. However, their team total of 106.00 left them only 1.5 points ahead of Austria in second and just over two points ahead of the Italians in third at this stage, and cross-country day would change everything.

“It wasn’t a difficult course, but the time (6 mins 49 secs) was tight,” explained Garcia who galloped through the finish with Ugo du Perron in 7 mins 11 secs to add 8.8 time penalties to his scoreline. All four Italian team members stayed clear over the fences and they had a commanding lead going into the final phase on a score of 132.20. Austria lay second on 159.60 but less one rider following cross-county elimination for Lea Siegl and Van Helsing P, while Poland sat in third on 178.30 ahead of Switzerland in overnight fourth on 189.4.

The Italians sealed it confidently when both Garcia and Arianna Schivo riding Quefira de L’Ormeau were foot-perfect and within the time, while both Pietro Majolino riding Vita Louise DH Z and Marco Cappal partnering Santal Du Halage dropped only a single pole and added a few time faults.

Debut

At 23 years of age, and making his Nations Cup debut, Majolino was the baby of the winning side but his team-mates have a world of experience behind them. Garcia is a veteran of two Olympic Games and four FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG), competing in both Jumping and Eventing at the very top level. Schivo and her 16-year-old mare were on the Italian team at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the WEG in Tryon, USA in 2018 while Cappal finished individually 14th at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, USA in 1996.

The final Italian team total of 138.60 left them well clear of the rest of the field and celebrating a big moment. They finished second in the final classification after lining out in all three legs of the series this season, and as Chef d’Equipe Giacomo Della Chiesa said, “It’s been a very good competition for us and we finish the year in a very good way.”

Title

The Netherlands can also celebrate tonight after taking the title. Tim Lips (Eclips), Janneke Boonzaauer (ACSI Champ de Tailleur), Elaine Pen (Divali), and Laura Hoogeveen (Wicro Quibus NOP) flew the Dutch flag when runners-up behind French winners Thibaut Vallette, Thomas Carlile, Christopher Six, and Karim Florent Laghouag at the opening leg at Le Pin au Haras.

And when Germany’s Ingrid Klimke, Andreas Dibowski, Beeke Jankowski, and Heike Jahncke came out on top in Strzegom later in August, then Hoogeveen was joined by Merel Blom (Ceda NOP), Jordy Wilken (Burry Spirit), and Raf Kooremans (Dimitri NOP) to fill second spot.

Results from Montelibretti here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Les 5 Étoiles de Pau 2020: Let’s Go!

Kelly Houtappels-Bruder ©S. Bailly/Centaure Production.

The 2020 edition of the “5 Étoiles de Pau” began with part one of the dressage test, the first test in the FEI Driving World Championships for singles. At the end of the opening day of this international event, the Canadian driver Kelly Houtappels-Bruder is at the top of the provisional leaderboard. Fabrice Martin gave the best French performance, finishing sixth. For this 30th edition, the “5 Étoiles de Pau” is also hosting the only CCI5*-L in the world this year (full equestrian eventing competition). After the vet inspections, the leading international riders will enter the arena for the dressage test, the first in this equestrian triathlon.

From now until Sunday the Domaine de Sers will be welcoming the best international riders and drivers for five days of competition at the highest level. The starting lists, results, maps, practical information, and ticket office are available on the mobile App “Les 5 Étoiles de Pau” or on the website for the event:  www.event-pau.fr.

Juliette Feytout – E-mail: juliette@blizko-communication.com

Westphalian Cascamara Tops 6-Year-Olds, Trakehner Sweetwaters Ziethen T Wins 7-Year-Old Title

Ingrid Klimke and Cascamara. (FEI/Solène Bailly)

There was an exciting conclusion to the FEI WBFSH Eventing World Breeding Championships for Young Horses 2020 at the Haras National at l’Isle de Briand in Le Lion d’Angers (FRA), where German star Ingrid Klimke steered Cascamara to claim the 6-year-old title and compatriot Sophie Leube topped the 7-year-old category with Sweetwaters Ziethen T.

In a world so full of uncertainty as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to play havoc with all things including the sporting calendar, there was both relief and delight that the annual event went ahead. Speaking during the prizegiving for the 6-year-olds, in which she finished third, Dutch athlete Merel Blom praised the tremendous effort of the organisers who ensured the much-anticipated fixture took place with careful consideration for health protocols, while also offering a strong test for the latest crop of talented young horses.

Riders from 19 countries, and horses representing 22 international Studbooks, competed for the prestigious titles.

6-Year-Olds

Mares claimed the top five places in the 6-year-old division in which there was 38 starters, but it was the Irish Sport Horse gelding MHS Brown Jack who was out in front going into the final day with Great Britain’s Tom McEwen onboard. The pair posted a Dressage score of 26.6 and added nothing on cross-country day, but two mistakes in the final Jumping phase dropped them to sixth in the final analysis.

Klimke and Cascamara (Cascadello ll and Taramanga x Templer GL XX) lay second on their Dressage mark of 27.4, and when they added nothing to that scoreline had victory in the bag. There were just four eliminations on cross-country day when 20 combinations jumped clear across the beautifully-designed 20-fence track, and amongst those eliminated were the fourth-placed Australian partnership of Kevin McNab and Cute Girl.

The leaderboard was shaken up again on the final day when clear rounds proved hard to get. A total of 31 made it through to the final test and 25 of them collected penalties. Zero scores saw Ireland’s Cathal Daniels and the Irish Sport Horse LEB Empress rocket up from 15th to eventual fifth place, while America’s Tiana Coudray make a spectacular improvement from 12th to fourth with the Holsteiner Cabaret.

Lying in overnight fifth, The Netherlands’ Merel Blom and the Holsteiner mare Corminta Vom Gwick finished third despite the addition of 1.2 time penalties, while a pole down and 0.4 for time saw Germany’s Sophie Leube and Isselhook’s First Sight drop from fourth to eighth.

All the pressure

Great Britain’s Oliver Townend was lying third with the Irish Sport Horse Cooley Rosalent and added nothing to his scoreline, and when Klimke and Cascamara followed suit then all the pressure was on leader McEwen and MHS Brown Jack. A single error would have dropped them to third, but two down saw them having to settle for sixth. Klimke’s smile was as a wide as an ocean when she stood top-of-the-line with her lovely mare at the end of the day.

“I bought her last year directly from the breeder, Helmut Bergendahl – one of the only breeders I know who still breeds for Eventing by crossing Thoroughbred mares with Jumping stallions. She competed at her first show on the last weekend in July and did a good job so I thought she could be ready for a 2-star quite quickly. She did three 2-stars and won the third, and when I brought her to Le Lion she was already more confident in the dressage,” Klimke said.

“She was a bit green in the cross-country, especially at the water and the house, but when I asked her to give it a try, she was right there – so bold and smart and clever. I thought nine minutes might be too long for her, but she galloped around easily.

“In the showjumping she right away said, ‘I know my job’, and she was never close to touching a fence; she was so easy to ride and I feel I have a new superstar coming along!”

7-Year-Olds

Leube was all smiles too when enjoying a runaway victory with Sweetwaters Ziethen T (Abendtanz and Zaria AA x Campetot AA) in the 7-year-old category. The German pair was on familiar territory having finished fifth in the 6-year-old division last year, and the stallion never put a foot wrong after posting the best Dressage score of 27.6.

There were 42 starters and 27 completions in this class in which there was an optimum time of 9 minutes 19 seconds on the 22-fence cross-country track. Leube and her handsome horse did it to perfection when crossing the finish line in 9 minutes 14 seconds, and when they kept a clean sheet, they were simply untouchable.

On his fifteenth visit to these Young Horse Championships, French star Nicolas Touzaint slotted the Selle Francais gelding Diabolo Menthe into second after Dressage on a mark of 29.1, ahead of The Netherlands’ Blom in third with the Holsteiner Crossborder Radar Love (30.3) and New Zealand’s Caroline Powell with the Irish Sport Horse Greenacres Special Cavalier in fourth place (30.6).

Powell collected 20 penalties at the middle element of fence 15 to drop out of contention, and it was Leube and Touzaint, followed by compatriot Donatien Schauly in third with the Selle Francais gelding Dgin du Pestel Mili and Britain’s Laura Collett with the Irish Sport Horse Moonlight Charmer who topped the leaderboard.

Regrouped

But Collett’s mare didn’t pass the second horse inspection so when the field regrouped, it was Italy’s Filippo Gregoroni who was lying fifth with another Irish-bred, disarmingly called Unnamed, and despite a fence down, this pair only dropped a single place in the final standings.

Two mistakes dropped Blom to eighth while French rider Camille Lejeune, 26th after Dressage and 10th after cross-country, shot up to fifth when the Selle Francais mare Dame Decoeur Tardonn picked up just 1.2 showjumping time penalties. Meanwhile Great Britain’s Alexander Bragg and the Irish-bred Ardeo Premier moved up from seventh to fourth when clear.

In the battle between the top three, Touzaint dropped a place when his fabulous big grey gelding left one on the floor allowing Schauly into runner-up spot when foot-perfect. And then Leube held her nerve to clinch the win in fine style.

As Klimke remarked, these Championships are held in high regard by the world’s top riders. “It’s one of my favourites for young horses because they learn so much here; there’s no other course with such a variety of fences and terrain. My inexperienced mare was spooky at the first water, but by the time she got to the second water she had already learned a lot and was in a nice easy rhythm. Thanks to everyone at Le Lion for giving us riders and horses a great opportunity in these difficult times!”

For more information and full results, visit www.mondialdulion.com.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Another Dream Double for Dufour at First Leg in Denmark

Cathrine Dufour and Bohemian. (FEI/Ridehesten.com/Annette Boe Østergaard)

Germany’s Werth and von Bredow-Werndl finish second and third

There’s nothing like a home victory to please the crowd, and although numbers were limited as pandemic protocols were strictly in place, Cathrine Dufour’s winning ride with Bohemian at the first leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2020/2021 Western European League in Aarhus (DEN) brought spectators to their feet.

Last season, when the opening round of the series was staged at the Boxen arena in Herning, the Danish pair claimed top honours in both the Grand Prix and Freestyle. And they did it all over again in the considerably more modest confines of the Danish National Equestrian Centre in Vilhelmsborg, but with even more confidence and flair.

Fifth-last to go in the field of 15 starters, they posted a big score of 88.200 to take the lead. And although defending five-time series champion Isabell Werth came dangerously close when last to go with Emilio, her score of 87.845 wasn’t enough to prevent another Dufour double.

Werth filled runner-up spot ahead of German compatriot Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and Zaire-E in third, and the Danes had even more to cheer about when Carina Cassøe Krüth and Heiline’s Danciera put in a brilliant performance to line up in fourth.

Same top three

It was the same top-three in the Grand Prix in which Dufour’s winning margin was much wider, her mark of 88.435 leaving her more than five percentage points ahead of the two Germans who both posted 77 percent scores.

“Bohemian was really good in the Grand Prix; he was just playing with all the moves. Today I had to push him a bit more, but he’s getting more and more brave and he loves being in the ring!” — Cathrine Dufour (DEN)

She had the leading score of 82.105, set by Germany’s Helen Langehanenberg and the 18-year-old Damsey FRH, in her sights as she set sail. Bohemian seemed to be listening as she spoke quietly and patted him before their music began, and the harmony between the partnership oozed through every movement, with crisp, clean piaffe and passage a particular highlight throughout a lovely test.

When they came to a halt, the horse dropped his head in complete relaxation knowing that was a job well done. And when over 88 percent went up on the board it was obvious it was not going to be an easy score to beat.

Consummate ease

Von Bredow-Werndl’s mare, Zaire-E, produced a lovely test for 85.335 while Sweden’s Patrik Kittel and Delaunay Old, who presented no less than 18 one-tempi changes with consummate ease, earned a score of 82.575.

Second-last into the ring, Cassøe Krüth, whose nine-year-old mare Heiline’s Danciera gave notice of her great promise when finishing fourth at the FEI WBFSH Young Horse Championships at Ermelo (NED) two years ago, provided another Danish treat for a mark of 84.455 to slot temporarily into third place.

However, Werth was still to come, and although Emilio had not given his rider his full cooperation in the Grand Prix, few doubted the German legend’s capacity for pulling off a big result this time out. But it didn’t happen, and it was Dufour who was the one waving at the masked crowd during the prizegiving ceremony.

Achieved so much

The 28-year-old Danish athlete achieved so much with her little chestnut gelding Atterupgaards Cassidy who took her all the way from Junior level to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and on to three bronze medals at the FEI European Championships in Gothenburg (SWE) in 2017 and Grand Prix Special bronze at last year’s Europeans in Rotterdam (NED). Bohemian is now stepping into the spotlight, and Dufour believes he has a lot more to show.

“He hasn’t reached anything like his limits; he’s still developing mentally and there’s definitely more room for improvement from him – I’m delighted with him!” she said happily.

Results here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Dufour Leads Danish Defence at Opener in Aarhus

Cathrine Dufour and Bohemian (FEI/Ridehesten.com/Kristine Ulsø Olsen)

Persisting in the face of the disruption caused by the pandemic that has led to the cancellation of multiple equestrian events in recent months, the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2020/2021 Western European League gets underway in Denmark this week.

Initially scheduled to take place in Herning, this opening leg has been relocated to the National Equestrian Centre in Vilhelmsborg near Aarhus, where the main manor house, a listed building that dates back to 1842, is closely associated with the world-famous master of fairytale-telling, writer Hans Christian Andersen.

Vilhelmsborg staged the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final in 2001 when the all-German podium was topped by Ulla Salzgeber with Rusty, while Isabell Werth lined up second with Antony FRH and Rudolf Zeilinger finished third with Livijno.

Werth returns 19 years later as the most decorated athlete in the history of equestrian sport and chasing her sixth FEI Dressage World Cup™ title. She currently holds the top two places on the world rankings with Bella Rose and Weihegold, and brings seventh-placed Emilio to this first qualifier of the new season.

Five nations

Athletes from five nations will compete, and the top-class German contingent also includes world number three, Jessica von Bredow-Werndl partnering Zaire-E, and world number eight Helen Langehanenberg with Damsey FRH, along with Jessica Süss with Duisenberg.

Finland will be represented by Emma Kanerva and Dambacu NL, while Nars Gottmer (Dicaprio Swing), Margo Timmermans (Catch Me), and Thamar Zweistra (Hexagon’s Doublt Dutch) will fly the Dutch flag. Sweden’s Patrik Kittel (Delaunay OLD), Therese Nilshagen (Dante Weltino OLD), and Antonia Ramel (Brother de Jeu) will also add plenty of quality to the line-up.

However, the host country’s Cathrine Dufour may well prove to be the one to beat. She is armed with the 10-year-old gelding Bohemian with which she stole the show at last year’s Danish leg of the series when winning both the Grand Prix and Freestyle.

Talking about the horse that day, she said, “Imagine what he can do when I start to push him some more,” and he hasn’t disappointed, topping both the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Special at the CDI5* in Herning in March of this year, just before the sport was locked down due to the spread of Covid-19.

Newly-crowned champion

And Dufour comes to Vilhelmsborg as newly-crowned 2020 Danish Grand Prix champion. She took the title for the fourth time in her career with great performances from her 17-year-old superstar Atterupgaards Cassidy at the championships staged in Uggerhalne last month, where she also became engaged to girlfriend Rasmine Rosedahl Laudrup, daughter of former soccer star Brian Laudrup who is now a popular Danish TV commentator and pundit.

Dufour will be joined by compatriots Andreas Helgstrand (Fiontini), Lone Bang Larsen (Bakkely’s Onandt), Charlotte Heering (Bufranco), Carina Cassoe (Heiline’s Danciera), and Helene Melsen (Aston Martin) in what promises to be a great weekend of sport.

The FEI Dressage Grand Prix will take place at 17.30 local time on Saturday 17 October, with the Grand Prix Freestyle on Sunday 18 October kicking off at 14.00.

Attendance is limited, as the event will be conducted strictly in line with national Covid restrictions and FEI guidelines. However, you won’t miss a hoofbeat because all the action will be LIVE ON FEI TV as horse-and-athlete combinations take their first steps on the road to the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2021 Final in Gothenburg, Sweden next April.

Check out the Western European League here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

FEI Driving World Championships Cancelled due to Covid-19 Pandemic

Lausanne (SUI), 2 October 2020 — The FEI Driving World Championships, due to be held behind closed doors in Valkenswaard (NED) from 7-11 October, have been cancelled due to increased case numbers of Covid-19 in the Netherlands. The decision to cancel the Championships, which were for four-in-hand horse teams, was made by the City of Valkenswaard.

“It is devastating that the FEI Driving World Championships at Valkenswaard have had to be cancelled at the last minute, as everyone involved has put in so much effort to try and make them happen,” FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez said, “but sadly the new Government restrictions in the Netherlands make it impossible for the Championships to go ahead next week.

“The start list for the Championships was looking very strong in such a challenging year for our sport, with 13 nations lined up to take part, including eight with full teams, but it is clear that health considerations have to take priority.

“We have done everything possible to hold these Championships, including looking at a possible alternative venue in Germany, and we are very grateful for the proposal we received, but regrettably it is simply not feasible given the short timeframe, ongoing concerns around Covid-19, and restrictions imposed by the authorities.”

The United States of America, which won gold on home ground at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon (USA), was not going to be defending its team title as they had just one driver heading for Valkenswaard, but Australia’s Boyd Exell, who took the individual title on the final day in North Carolina two years ago, was aiming to defend his crown.

Australia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, and Poland were all due to send teams to the Championships, while Austria, Romania, Switzerland, Uruguay, and the USA were the five nations sending individuals.

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Communications
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 4

Germany Wins the Nations Cup in Strzegom, Poland on the Podium

Photo credit: Leszek Wójcik.

German riders were victorious in the second leg of the FEI Nations Cup in eventing, winning both the team and individual classification. Poland finished on the third place.

The win for the German team was guaranteed after the cross-country trial, leaving the previous leaders – Netherlands – in the second position. Ingrid Klimke with SAP Asha P had the best result in the team, and Andreas Dibowski with FRH Corrida, Beeke Jankowski with Tiberius 20, and Heike Jahncke with Mighty Spring were competing alongside her. The current European champion also won the class individually. She took the lead with the 16-year-old gelding SAP Hale Bob OLD after dressage, and even a knockdown in the jumping and points for time in the cross-country did not take away her best position.

Dutch riders Merel Blom with Ceda N.O.P, Jordy Wilken with Burry Spirit, Raf Kooremans with Dimitri N.O.P, and Laura Hoogeven with Wicro Quibus were in the lead after two trials, but eventually ended up on the second position. The best result in the team and third place individually belonged to Merel Blom.

The cross-country trial made the Polish team go up into the third position: Mateusz Kiempa with Lassban Radovix, Joanna Pawlak with Fantastuc Frieda, Jan Kamiński with Senior, and Michał Hycki with Moonshine. The best result among them belonged to Mateusz Kiempa, as he finished fourth in the individual classification. He was in the second place after dressage and jumping, but points for time on the cross-country course made him miss the podium.

„I’m happy with my performance, but I think that we should firstly look at the team score – everyone did very well, and I think we should all be pleased about it,” said Kiempa after the prizegiving ceremony.

Saturday was also cross-country day for the long format classes. The new best result in the CCI4*-L is that of Jonelle Price with Grappa Nera. The rider from New Zealand went clear in the XC and took the lead away from her husband Tim Price. The current number one in the CCI3*-L class is Julia Mestern from Germany with Monarts Masterpiece, and the leader in the CCI2*-L is Dutch rider Merel Blom with Corminta vom Gwick.

Saturday’s cross-country was the last trial of the CCI1* Intro, where the winner was Sophie Leube (GER) with Skyjacker 3.

More than 270 horses from 11 countries compete in 11 classes during LOTTO Strzegom Horse Trials.

Nations Cup classification:

  • Germany – 105,90
  • Netherlands – 108,30
  • Poland – 136,80

Online results: http://results.strzegomhorsetrials.pl

Contact:
www.strzegomhorsetrials.pl
press@strzegomhorsetrials.pl

Longines FEI Endurance World Championships 2020 Postponed to 2021

The Longines FEI Endurance World Championships 2020 have been postponed until May 2021 due to the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on equestrian sport. The decision to postpone comes following agreement between the FEI, the Italian National Federation, and the Organisers in Pisa.

The Championships were due to be held at San Rossore, Pisa in September this year, but the pandemic and the restrictions on both travel and training of horses has meant that is was simply not possible to maintain the original date.

The FEI Executive Board and the Endurance Temporary Committee were in favour of postponement and, following consultation with the Endurance Calendar Task Force and meetings with the Italian National Federation and the Pisa Organisers, the move to May 2021 was agreed. Final approval of the postponement was given by the FEI Board at an extraordinary Board meeting held by videoconference on 19 June.

Qualification for the Championships will be under Article 836 of the FEI Endurance Rules (11th Edition), which come into effect on 1 July 2020.

The FEI Board also agreed to prolong the qualification period for these Championships in order to allow more time for horses and athletes to qualify following the disruption to this year’s FEI Calendar caused by the pandemic. Details will be defined by the Endurance Temporary Committee and FEI Headquarters and communicated later.

Two Continental Championships are already scheduled to run next year – the FEI Endurance Pan American Championships for Seniors & Young Riders in Campinas (BRA) from 28-29 July and the FEI Endurance European Championships in Ermelo (NED) from 6-11 September. The FEI last week proactively reached out to all 51 National Federations that compete in Endurance in order to understand their views on the proposed postponement of the World Championships and its potential impact on next year’s Calendar.

National Federations were asked whether they were in favour of postponing the Longines FEI Endurance World Championships to May 2021 and if they would also participate in their region’s Continental Championships if the Worlds were moved to next year.

A total of 34 National Federations responded to the questionnaire, of which 33 were positive, both to the postponement and their participation, where relevant, in one of the Continental Championships next year.

“Our Endurance community made it very clear to the FEI that they want a World Championships, particularly after losing the last edition at Tryon in 2018, but horse welfare and a level playing field could not have been guaranteed if the Championships had run in September, so it was the best solution to move the Championships to May of next year,” FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez said.

“Having consulted with the National Federations that compete in Endurance, we now feel that we have reached a compromise that works for everyone, but especially for our horses, as there will now be time for them to do the necessary preparation work and achieve their qualification for this major event.”

The Secretary General is in charge of the FEI Calendar and, throughout the Covid-19 crisis, has chaired the eight discipline-specific Calendar Task Forces that have been working to minimise the impact of the pandemic on the sport and the fixture list. More than 800 events have already been cancelled and numerous events have been rescheduled.

The FEI Endurance World Championships for Young Horses and the FEI Endurance European Championships for Young Riders & Juniors, which are due to be held in Vic (ESP) from 25-27 September 2020, will be discussed by the FEI Board during this week’s three-day meeting via videoconference (23-25 June).

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Communications
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 4

War Horses, Cavalrymen, and the FEI Jumping Nations Cup

Capt Xavier Bizard from the French Cavalry School at Saumur with Honduras after winning the King George V Gold Cup in 1937.

Riders and sports fans all around the globe are pining for the cut-and-thrust of FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ this year. Since it was first staged back in 1909, war is the only thing that has ever stopped this great annual tournament in its tracks, and it is another kind of war that is getting in the way of the 2020 Longines sponsored series as the world currently grapples with the Coronavirus pandemic.

Only two of the 11 qualifying events were completed this season, in Wellington (USA) where the hosts wrestled victory from Great Britain in a thrilling jump-off, and in Abu Dhabi (UAE), also in February, where New Zealand posted an historic back-to-back double.

However, the resilience of this particular branch of equestrian sport, so often described as the “jewel in the crown of the FEI,” is second to none. It emerged from epic sporting battles between military men, and it still stirs the blood in spectators today as they roar on their own national teams, which now of course also include female athletes, at many of the most prestigious horse shows around the globe.

It’s the unique sense of national pride that gives it the edge, with riders often talking about how their horses are “fighting” for them as they tackle the tough courses set by world-class designers. A steed with great courage was what was needed by cavalrymen of old. And in the story of two war horses from very different periods of military history, there’s a reminder of the fighting spirit that continues to set the best apart from the rest to this day.

Vonolel

In the grounds of the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham, Dublin (IRL), built in the 1680s for retired soldiers but now home to the Irish Museum of Modern Art, there is a gravestone that marks the final resting place of Vonolel, a brave and special horse.

He was the charger of the decorated Anglo-Irish Field Marshal Frederick Sleigh Roberts, a Victorian era general who became one of the most successful British military commanders of his time. Lord Roberts, aka “Bobs”, was only 160cm tall so was a perfect match for the beautifully-bred Arab horse who stood at just 148cm.

Named after a great Lushai chief, the little grey was bought in Bombay (now Mumbai, IND) as a five-year-old and served Roberts for the next 23 years. Vonolel played a pivotal role in the relief of the Siege of Kandahar (AFG), and also saw action in India, Burma, and South Africa. The horse was a legend in his day and was repeatedly decorated by Queen Victoria, receiving amongst others the Kabul medal and the Kandahar Star for bravery in battle, both of which he wore around his neck on ceremonial occasions.

He travelled about 50,000 miles during his career without ever taking a lame step, and when he passed away at the Royal Hospital in June 1899, Roberts was said to be heartbroken. Vonolel was buried in the rose gardens of the Royal Hospital with full military honours, and there is a painting of him, with “Bobs” on board, in London’s Tate Gallery.

It’s that tradition of horses and riders battling as part of a team on behalf of their country, albeit in peace time and in a spirit of healthy competition rather than antagonism, that underpins the FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ series to this day.

Honduras and Nipper

Vonolel’s glorious send-off was in stark contrast to that of a black 160cm gelding of unknown breeding who is no less deserving of an honorable mention in dispatches. His name was Honduras when he clinched the coveted King George V Gold Cup for Capt Xavier Bizard in London in 1937. The rider from the French Cavalry School at Saumur was a showjumping star of the 1920s and 30s with a formidable record of success on Nations Cup teams riding a variety of horses.

Bizard was on the winning French sides at Nice (FRA) in 1924, New York (USA) in 1925, and Lucerne (SUI) and Rome (ITA) in 1927. He was back in Rome in 1928 for another victory and the following year helped post two more Nations Cup top spots in Naples (ITA) and Dublin (IRL). In the 1930s he was on three winning teams in London as well as in Nice, Lucerne, Vienna (AUT), Rome, and Riga (LAT). It was partnering Apollan that he won the Nations Cup in the Latvian capital in 1937, and that same year he scooped the King George V title in London with Honduras.

It seems that the ride on Honduras was then handed over to Amador des Busnel who won the Grand Prix with him in Brussels (BEL) in 1939, before the onset of World War ll brought everything to a shuddering halt.

What is intriguing about this horse is not his success-rate, but the fact that he was captured during the German occupation of France, and then re-appeared after the war on the US Army showjumping teams that won the Nations Cups in both London and Dublin in 1948, now competing under the name “Nipper” and ridden by Lt Col Charles (Chuck) Symroski.

He was well-travelled at this stage of his life because, after being captured along with the rest of the German team horses near the town of Bayreuth in Bavaria (GER) in 1945, he was shipped to the United States in August of 1946. He competed across America and Canada that year, and again in 1947 before returning to Europe in the spring of 1948 to compete at a number of shows in the lead-up to the London Olympic Games for which he was selected as the reserve horse.

The Nations Cup win in Dublin in 1948 was historic, as it was the first time for a US side to lift the Aga Khan Cup, the first time for non-Europeans to take the title, and the last time an official US army team would line out at the Royal Dublin Society showgrounds. Nipper and Lt Col Symroski were joined by Capt JW Russell riding Airmail, Col JF Wing with Democrat, and Lt Col CH Anderson with Riem when New York-born Eamon De Valera, then Taoiseach (Prime Minister) and later President of Ireland, presented the coveted Aga Khan trophy.

One more time

And Honduras/Nipper would get to meet his old friend, Capt Bizard, one more time. Their encounter took place in London, but whether it was following their Nations Cup win or during the Olympic Games in the English capital that summer is unclear, as it has been separately reported at both venues. Wherever it happened it was an emotional reunion when the Frenchman accidentally came across his former mount who he had thought was long dead.

The story goes that when Capt Bizard told the Americans how old the horse was they were really surprised. However, the 19-year-old gelding wasn’t called into action for the one-round Olympic contest which proved to be a marathon, defeating all but three of the 14 participating teams. Mexico, Spain, and Great Britain clinched gold, silver, and bronze while the USA was amongst the 11 countries eliminated.

Following the Games, the US army team was disbanded and replaced by a civilian side. Although unconfirmed, it is believed that Honduras/Nipper returned to America to live out his days on the family farm of three-time Olympian Jimmy Wofford near Fort Riley in Kansas (USA) whose parents accepted all the remaining remounts for retirement following the mechanisation of the cavalry.

This horse’s life wasn’t celebrated with the pomp and ceremony that marked the passing of Vonolel a half-century earlier, but his story lives on as another symbol of survival in the face of destructive world conflict. And the FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ is also a survivor, just waiting in the wings for a return to centre stage as soon as the current pandemic crisis is sufficiently resolved.

Hopes are still high that a revised version of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final will take place in October this year, but one way or another nothing will stand in the way of a renewal of the series that has been engaging and delighting spectators for well over a century and which remains the best-loved brand ambassador for equestrian sport.

And as for the once much-loved Vonolel and Honduras aka Nipper, they will not be forgotten. We’ll leave them with the words carved into that gravestone in Dublin, which reads:

“There are men both good and wise
Who hold that in a future state
Dumb creatures we have cherished here below
Shall give us joyous greeting when
We pass the golden gate
Is it folly that I hope it may be so?”

With special thanks to:
Olympian and coach Jimmy Wofford
Jane Garland, artist

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

FEI European Championships in Olympic & Paralympic Disciplines Cancelled for 2021

The FEI European Championships in the Olympic and Paralympic disciplines of Jumping, Eventing, Dressage, and Para Dressage will not be held in 2021 due to the revised dates for the Tokyo Games next year. European Championships in the non-Olympic disciplines will still be organised in 2021.

The Hungarian capital of Budapest had been due to play host to five disciplines next summer – Jumping, Dressage, Para Dressage, Driving, and Vaulting – from 23 August to 5 September. However, the proximity of the Championships to the rescheduled Olympic and Paralympic Games has meant that it is no longer feasible to run Jumping, Dressage, and Para Dressage. As part of its 50th anniversary celebrations of the first FEI European Driving Championships in Budapest back in 1971, the Organisers will maintain both Driving and Vaulting next year.

The FEI European Eventing Championships 2021 were scheduled to take place from 11-15 August at Haras du Pin (FRA), venue for the Eventing test of the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014, but the decision has been made to cancel the Championships following the postponement of Tokyo 2020.

The new dates for the Tokyo Olympic Games are 23 July to 8 August 2021 and the Paralympic Games will run from 24 August through to 5 September 2021.

The FEI Board has agreed that the bid process for the European Championships 2021 in these four disciplines will not be reopened, as all organisers would face the same challenges of trying to host major Championships so close to the Tokyo Games.

“Together with the Organising Committees of both Budapest and Haras du Pin, as well as the Hungarian and French National Federations, we have examined every possible option to try and save the Championships in 2021,” FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez said, “but we have reached the regrettable decision that it simply is not possible to have these important events so close to the Olympic and Paralympic Games next year.

“While there are some nations that have enough horsepower to send strong teams to the Olympic and Paralympic Games and also to the European Championships across the four disciplines, we have to offer a level playing field to all eligible countries and we simply cannot do that in this case, so we have agreed that the focus should be on Tokyo next year.

“Of course, it is desperately disappointing to lose these Championships from the 2021 Calendar, but we will continue to support Budapest with their double Europeans for Driving and Vaulting.”

The FEI Secretary General has overall responsibility for the FEI Calendar and is currently chairing the eight discipline-specific Task Forces that have been set up to seek ways of mitigating the effect of the current Covid-19 pandemic on the FEI Calendar, including the knock-on effects into 2021.

“It was the very first time that a Central European country had won the opportunity to organise the prestigious FEI multidiscipline European Championships, Dorottya Stróbl, Member of the Managing Board of the Budapest Organising Committee and Secretary General of the Hungarian National Federation, said. “We strongly believed that the event would serve as a high motivation for the owners and sponsors in Hungary and in the neighbouring countries and promote the sport towards the elite level, but we understand that the significant challenges of holding major FEI Championships in the Olympic and Paralympic disciplines in the year of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, has meant that unfortunately cancellation was inevitable. However, we will continue to work to ensure the very highest level of FEI Driving and Vaulting European sport in Budapest next year.”

Valérie Moulin, President of the Ustica Organising Committee at Haras du Pin, also expressed her disappointment: “We are very disappointed that the rescheduling of Tokyo 2020 has led to the cancellation of the Championships in Haras du Pin, but unfortunately we were unable to find alternative dates outside August 2021. We had gathered a lot of local partners and we were financially invested. All riders counted on this date; nevertheless, we understand that the situation has changed over the last months with the postponement of the Olympic Games. We have made a proposal to the FEI about potentially hosting the Championships in 2023 and we look forward to hearing about that.”

Discussions around other FEI Championships, including the Europeans in 2023, will be held during next month’s FEI Board videoconference meeting, which is set for 23-25 June.

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Communications
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 4