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Hard Work, Dedication, and Perseverance at the Heart of Time to Beat Campaign

The FEI has set in motion the Time to Beat campaign which highlights the hard work, dedication, and perseverance of equestrian athletes who dedicate their lives to reaching World level sporting success.

Launched at the start of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2021-2022 season, the cross-media campaign brings together the FEI, its Top Partner Longines, and the Organising Committees of the North American League and Western European League to celebrate the human and equine athlete journey to the elite levels of the sport.

“The Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ competitions are full of edge-of-your-seat moments where winners can be determined by fractions of a second and it is this sporting drama which engages fans and keeps them coming back for more each season,” FEI Commercial Director Ralph Straus said.

“But these moments of brilliance are the culmination of years of hard work, patience, and endless repetition. And when it comes down to that critical moment in a competition, it is the communication between the athlete and horse that is often the determining factor for a win. This horse-human connection takes years to create, and it is this journey in time that we want to celebrate through the Time to Beat campaign.”

The video, released to mark the start of the campaign, connects the in-competition performance of the human and equine athletes with powerful images of the daily dedication and perseverance that athletes need to cultivate over time to reach their sporting goals.

“The values of the Time to Beat campaign resonate strongly with Longines, as we know from first-hand experience that excellence can only come from years of commitment,” Longines Vice President Marketing Matthieu Baumgartner said.

“Perfection does take time, and with our experience in creating digital engagement campaigns with the FEI over the past year, we can now tell this story in a more authentic way and deliver a message that people from diverse backgrounds, not just equestrian, can identify with.

“The Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ has inspired large numbers of fans and we believe that by adding powerful initiatives like the Time to Beat campaign, we can take equestrian sport to another level.”

The FEI’s partnership with Longines has come a long way since it became the International Federation’s Top Partner in 2012. The initial collaboration included a number of major rights packages including the Longines Jumping Rankings, the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™, FEI World Equestrian Games™, and the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™.

Over the years, the partnership has grown to include Longines as Partner of the FEI Solidarity project on the retraining of racehorses, as well as Title Partner of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ series and Presenting Partner of the FEI Awards Gala. In early 2019, Longines extended its agreement as Title Partner of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup North American League series.

The Time to Beat campaign has found strong support with the Organising Committees of the North American League and Western European League where Longines is the Title Partner. The first leg of the North American League for the 2021-2022 season will kick off in Langley, British Columbia (CAN) on 26 September while Oslo (NOR) will host the first leg of the Western European League on 17 October.

“The pandemic situation has brought home to the sports world that our lives can also change dramatically from one minute to the next,” said Chris Pack, President and Operations Director at the Thunderbird Show Park in Langley.

“While this campaign is meant to highlight the hard work that goes into the making of a sports star, it is also a celebration for our community who have worked hard to find solutions and ways to ensure that our athletes and fans have the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ competitions to enjoy.

“The Time to Beat campaign messages of persistence, tenacity, and dedication are universal and we are looking forward to communicating these values to our local communities to bring them closer to the action and emotion that the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ competitions have to offer.”

Time to Beat will be a three-year campaign that will see a number of activations around the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ competitions to boost fan engagement and involvement.

“We are looking forward to working on this campaign, not just to increase the visibility of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ series, but also to create a meaningful conversation around the power of equestrian sport,” said Tomas Torgersen, Show Director Gothenburg Horse Show.

“Both the human and equine athlete require a strong mental connection and it is this special bond that always shines through during the Longines FEI World Cup competitions. It’s always a magical moment when an athlete gets the best out of their horse at that crucial moment of the competition. It’s in those few seconds that World champions are created and we want the world to see and experience this with us.”

The Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ was created in 1978 and is currently made up of 12 leagues across all continents. The top placed athlete-horse combinations from all Leagues are invited to attend the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Final™ which will be held in Leipzig (GER) in April 2022.

Media contact:

Vanessa Martin Randin
Senior Manager, Media Relations & Communications
vanessa.randin@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 73

Luiz Francisco de Avezedo and Collin Win $25k Wellington Equestrian Realty Grand Prix

Luiz Francisco de Avezedo and Collin. ©Anne Gittins Photography.

Wellington, FL – Sept. 19, 2021 – The ESP September show reached its pinnacle on Sunday as 23 entries took to the Derby Field for a chance to win the lion’s share of the prize money in the $25,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty Grand Prix. The course, designed by Andy Christiansen (ECU), proved to be a difficult one to master as only three starters advanced to the jump-off, but was no match for the only double-clear contenders of the contest and the class winners, Luiz Francisco de Avezedo (BRA) and Collin, owned by Santa Cecilia Stables. The win is one of many victories earned by the Brazilian and Collin during their longtime partnership, which amazingly began by purchasing the horse before he reached the slaughterhouse.

Competition on the Derby Field kicked off Friday morning with the $10,000 Bainbridge Companies 1.40m Open Steak. Diego Vivero (ECU) and his own entry, Zambia Mystic Rose, sped their way to the top of the leaderboard after clearing the jump-off in 37.15 seconds.

Vivero found himself in the winner’s circle once again on Saturday after topping the Ford’s Garage 1.35m Stake. He and his own Flipper Lady posted double-clear rounds with a jump-off time of 35.74 seconds to take home top honors.

In Sunday morning’s $2,500 Medium Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, presented by Equiline, six pairs advanced to the jump-off over the 1.30m fences, led by Catalina Peralta of Geneva, FL on Wendy Peralta’s Amore from Second Life Z. The duo won the class with a double-clear time of 38.85 seconds.

Isabel Beltran and Sazerac Secure First Derby Win in $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby

Isabel Beltran of Jupiter, FL and IMB of Jupiter LLC’s Sazerac captured the win in ESP September’s highlight hunter class, the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by Equiline. The class took place on Friday at Equestrian Village and marked a special occasion for the duo as it was their first derby win together.

In the Amateur-Owner 3’3”/3’6” Hunters, sponsored by Vita Flex, Jennifer Speisman of Wellington, FL piloted her own Totality to the championship honors. The duo earned three first-place results, along with a second place and third place, to secure the highest number of points on the overall scorecard.

Stephen Lengyel of Wellington, FL rode Carolyn Teneyck’s Formal Attire to the championship tricolor in the USHJA 3’ Hunter division, presented by Perfect Products. Over the course of five classes, the pair received three second-place ribbons and two fourth-place ribbons.

The Junior 3’3”/3’6” Hunters, sponsored by #1 Education Place, saw Kat Fuqua of Atlanta, GA and her own Grand Remo ride away with victory in the division after earning three blue ribbons and two red ribbons.

For more information and results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

Jad Dana and After Eight Jump to Victory in $25k Palm Beach Equine Clinic Grand Prix

Jad Dana (LBN) and After Eight. ©Anne Gittins Photography.

Wellington, FL – Sept. 5, 2021 – The ESP Labor Day horse show concluded with a second victory from the week going to Lebanon’s Jad Dana. Dana and After Eight edged out the competition in the $25,000 Palm Beach Equine Clinic Grand Prix to capture the lead spot in the victory gallop. The partnership mastered two tracks designed by Oscar Soberón (USA) as the fastest of five double-clear duos.

Early in the morning on Friday, Ashlee Bond (ISR) and Boheme de Fleyres, owned by Ashlee Bond Show Jumping, hit the ground running to take the blue ribbon in the $10,000 Bainbridge Companies 1.40m Open Stake. Only the fourth in the order, Bond and Boheme de Fleyres turned in a quick fault-free time of 38.74 seconds in the immediate jump-off to solidify themselves as the frontrunners and eventual winners.

In the Perfect Products 1.35m Stake on Saturday morning, Dana and Fleur-de-Lis’ Cherie, owned by Kathleen Gannon-Ledsome, ran away with the class as the clear-cut winners. Never letting up on the gas, Dana and Fleur de Lis’ Cherie went midway through the pack and tripped their jump-off timers without faults in a blazing 39.13 seconds. No other competitors were able to come close, giving Dana and his mount the first prize by nearly four seconds.

Sunday morning saw the Medium Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, presented by Equiline, challenge a field of horses and riders on the Derby Field. In the end, only three-hundredths of a second separated the top two finishers, with the victory going to Caroline Drummond of Wellington, FL on her own Tsunami with a double-clear time of 40.66 seconds.

Alejandro Karolyi Makes Winning Hunter Debut with Karma AB in $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby

In his first hunter class ever, Alejandro Karolyi of Wellington, FL rode Emily Cherney’s Karma AB straight to the top of the leaderboard in the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by Equiline. The partnership concluded the class as the clear victors after earning back-to-back scores of 86 for a final tally of 172, which included all four high-option bonus points from both the classic and handy rounds. A decorated jumper rider, Karolyi gave the hunters a shot for the very first time on Friday, and he proved to be a solid match for Karma AB, the 10-year-old mare that is making the switch from jumpers to the hunter ring.

The combined Amateur-Owner 3’6” Hunter/Junior 3’3” Hunter divisions, presented by Vita Flex, saw Adrienne Marciano of Collegeville, PA and her own Cooper ride to the championship rosette. Marciano and Cooper were the standout pair in the division after capturing four first-place finishes and a single second-place result to emerge as the clear leaders.

In the Pony Hunter division, presented by Dover Saddlery, Competition Farm LLC’s Skip Day carried Chase Spranklin of Weston, FL to the championship honors. The duo earned two first-place finishes, as well as two third-place results and a fourth-place ribbon to earn enough points to capture the overall title.

For more information and results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

How Do You Communicate with a Para Dressage Horse?

Laurentia Tan (SGP) (FEI/Liz Gregg)

The unique bond between a horse and human, as well as the refined communication between the two, are important factors for success in elite equestrian sports. But what does this mean exactly for Para Dressage athletes competing at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games?

While able-bodied Dressage athletes use a combination of hand, leg, and weight signals to communicate with their horses, some Para Dressage athletes require the use of compensating aids to make up for the physical or sensory limitation resulting from their disabilities.

“Walking the way that I do is normal for me and so when I learned to ride, I also learnt in a way that was normal for me,” said five time Paralympic gold medallist Natasha Baker (GBR).

“As I have minimal feeling from my hips down, my legs just hang when I’m on a horse, and they naturally follow the movement of the horse. When you see my legs moving, that’s not me. It’s a completely involuntary movement.

“This is the reason why I have to train my horses to different aids and am reliant on my voice. I train my horses to the smallest of noises or words so they know exactly what I’m asking. It can be a simple sound so they know that I want to go more forward or a command like ‘trot’ under my voice, and they know exactly what I mean.”

While there is a broad range of movement that is standard for able-bodied Dressage athletes, Para Equestrians have to find and develop their own style of communication with their horse in order to compensate for their unique disabilities.

Where necessary, athletes are allowed to use a variety of special equipment and aids which include specially designed saddles that assist the athlete with balance and support. Also permitted are the use of elastic bands to keep feet in stirrups, whips in each hand, and adapted reins.

In the case of Laurentia Tan from Singapore, who developed cerebral palsy and profound deafness after birth, she relies on people to tell her when the music begins and ends and has a greater dependency on feeling in order to communicate with her horse.

“I can ride different horses, but I must have my own customised looped reins, which are important partly because they are customised to the way I hold them,” Tan explained.

“But the reins, which are the connection between my hands and the horse’s mouth, are like a telephone line which make my conversation with my horse soft, steady, and ‘elastic.’  This contact is different depending on the horse I ride and is absolutely essential for me to bring out their best performance.

“I am also sensitive to the feeling through my seat, which facilitates the conversation between me and my horse. I can execute a good square halt through my seat. I can feel when my horse does a perfect straight square halt under me and when to give a correction if one leg is out of place.”

As other Para Dressage athletes will attest, learning to interpret their horses’ body language is one of the keys to a successful sporting relationship. But training a horse to adapt and respond to the use of compensating aids also plays an important role in the development of the horse and athlete connection.

“Before a horse is ridden by a Para Athlete, it is first trained by an able-bodied rider with classic training aids and then retrained to adapt to the athlete’s disability,” Team USA’s Head of Para Equestrian Coach Development and High Performance Michel Assouline explained.

“The horse is trained to what the person does not have. So if an athlete does not have the full use their legs, for example, the horse will be trained to receive cues and signals with a series of taps given through a compensating aid, instead of the legs. An athlete can also learn to use their voice and seat to communicate with their horse.

“For athletes who are unable to use their legs, a tap becomes like a conductor’s baton, which signals to the horse when they should move.

“An able-bodied trainer will usually begin this process and will train the horse by not using their legs, but with the tapping. So by the time the athlete takes over, the horse is already aware of what these cues represent. On average, it takes around six months to a year for the horse to be truly confident and trustworthy.”

The FEI Para Equestrian Committee was created in April 2006 to ensure that the needs and requirements of Para Equestrians are well represented in the work of the International Federation.

“As living beings with thoughts and feelings of their own, horses are extremely sensitive to the specific needs of an athlete’s disability, and are highly perceptive to verbal and non-verbal cues,” Chair of the FEI Para Equestrian Committee Amanda Bond said.

“While horses have a natural ability to adapt, and seem to have a sixth sense for knowing what is required of them, it is the compensating aids which allow Para Equestrian athletes to effectively communicate with their horses.

“The FEI Para Dressage rules have been established to ensure that athletes have the equipment they require to compete on a level playing field, while keeping competition fair and safe. These are important principles to abide by if we are to ensure the continued growth and development of Para Equestrian sport.”

Media contact:

Vanessa Martin Randin
Senior Manager, Media Relations & Communications
vanessa.randin@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 73

Team GB Olympic Medallists to Parade at London International Horse Show

In a tribute to the outstanding achievements of the British equestrian athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, The London International Horse Show will welcome the Team GB Olympic and Paralympic Equestrian heroes in a celebratory parade, which will take place during the afternoon performance on Friday 17 December.

Leading the way will be Individual Show Jumping gold medallist, Ben Maher, who adds a Tokyo medal to his Team gold at the London Olympics in 2012. Maher will be joined by the gold medal-winning Eventing team of Oliver Townend, Laura Collett, and Tom McEwen. After a fantastic performance across all three phases, the team secured Great Britain’s first Eventing Team title for 49 years. 30-year-old McEwen then went on to claim the Individual silver medal with a foot-perfect performance aboard Toledo De Kerser.

Despite an inexperienced team of horses heading to Tokyo for the Dressage, the British team, comprising Charlotte Dujardin, Charlotte Fry, and Carl Hester, surpassed all expectations to come away with a Team bronze medal. Dujardin, riding the stunning chestnut Gio, followed up with an Individual bronze to add to her already impressive medal tally, which now includes three golds, one silver, and two bronzes. In doing so, Dujardin rewrote history to briefly become Britain’s all-time most decorated female Olympian – a feat she now shares with Cycling’s Laura Kenny, after Kenny’s triumphs a few days later.

Joining their Olympic counterparts will be Team GB’s Paralympic stars, who will be in action in Tokyo from Thursday 26-30 August. The team includes four defending Paralympic champions, including 11-time Paralympic champion Lee Pearson, eight-time gold medallist Sophie Christiansen, five-time gold medallist Natasha Baker, and two-time gold medallist Sophie Wells.

The London International Horse Show – this year taking place at ExCeL London from 16-20 December 2021 – will provide an opportunity for the athletes to celebrate in front of a crowd, something they were unable to experience in Tokyo. For fans, it will be a chance to hail the exceptional performances put on during the Games, proving Great Britain to be at the forefront of the sport, with some of the best horses and riders in the world.

More information about The London International Horse Show, including how to buy tickets to be part of this exclusive Olympic celebration, can be found here.

The London International Horse Show
www.londonhorseshow.com
Niki McEwen / nmcewen@revolutionworld.com

Breathing Art into Pet Portraiture: Ifat Zohar Photography

Amsterdam, The Netherlands (August 4, 2021) – Somewhere at the intersection of fantasy, reminiscence, and passion lives Ifat Zohar’s portraiture. Known for her stunning work with both domestic and fantastic fauna, Zohar combines themes of old-world indulgence, elegant theatrics, and a closeness to nature to create her visual masterpieces. An award-winning photographer originally from Israel, Zohar’s work has been featured in numerous publications, including those for the biggest equestrian events of 2021, and stands out as a new breed of modern portraitist.

Zohar’s portrait studio work is inspired by the old masters’ love for storytelling, and their use of light and dark to add depth and dimension to their subjects. Ifat’s signature portraiture technique breathes art into her images of people and the animals they love.

“I was looking for a better way to tell my clients’ stories with their pets, a more artistic way to timelessly capture their relationships,” said Zohar. “During my shoot, I am not just creating beautiful portraits but also capturing the unique connection, personality, character, and emotions of each animal and their humans.”

Zohar is now based full time in The Netherlands. Her creative portraits include Fine Art, human & animal themes, commissioned work, and character portraiture. The uniqueness of her work has earned her numerous accolades and exhibitions: 2 nominations in the international Fine Art Photography Awards (2021), Finalist in the 2020 “One Eye Photography Awards”, winner of the 2019 Benelux Photo Master award competition, and the 2019 Bronze Rise International Photography Award, to name a few.

Visit www.IZIPhotoArt.com for examples of her work, or contact ifatphoto@gmail.com, WhatsApp: +31.(0)6.13.33.83.31 for more information.

Media contact:
Equinium Sports Marketing, LLC
Holly Johnson
holly@equinium.com
www.equinium.com

Horses Really Can Fly, Even If They’re Not Called Pegasus

Photo: Haneda history-making: the first full cargo load of horses ever to land in Tokyo’s Haneda airport ready for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Equestrian competitions. © FEI/Yusuke Nakanishi.

Can horses fly? Well yes, they can if they’re Olympic athletes!

In a piece of history-making, 36 of them flew into Japan last night – the first full cargo load of horses ever to land in Haneda, the waterfront airport that serves the greater Tokyo area and which is now welcoming a very different group of Olympic athletes.

“To see these horses arriving at Haneda airport is a truly historic occasion, and what makes it even more special is that these are not simply horses; they are Olympic horses,” Administrator of Tokyo International Airport Takahashi Koji said. “It’s a really big night for the airport, and particularly for the cargo team, and we see it as one of the major milestones of the final countdown to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.”

The four-legged time travellers are all Equestrian Dressage horses and include some Olympic superstars, among them Bella Rose, the mare ridden by Germany’s Isabell Werth, the most decorated Olympic equestrian athlete of all time.

Also landing at Haneda en route to the stunning equestrian venue at Baji Koen, owned by the Japan Racing Association, is Gio, the ride of double Olympic champion Charlotte Dujardin (GBR), who will be bidding for a three-in-a-row title in Tokyo.

The 36 equine passengers will be flying the flag for teams from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands, Portugal, and host nation Japan, as well as individuals from Brazil, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, and Morocco. They will be joined by a further group of Equestrian Dressage stars flying into Tokyo.

The first Olympic flight out of Europe saw the horses travelling from Liege in Belgium, where there’s even a special airport horse hotel, flying on an Emirates SkyCargo Boeing 777-F to Dubai, a 90-minute refuel and crew change and then on to Tokyo.

From a sustainability perspective, Emirates has implemented a number of initiatives to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions where operationally feasible, including its long-standing operation of flexible routings in partnership with air navigation service providers to create the most efficient flight plan for each flight. The airline, which operates one of the world’s youngest aircraft fleets, also uses advanced data analytics, machine learning, and AI in its fuel monitoring and aircraft weight management programmes.

Like human passengers, all horses travel with a passport. They will already have undergone a 60-day health surveillance period prior to a seven-day pre-export quarantine. They all also have an export health certificate and are thoroughly checked over by veterinarians prior to boarding.

Business class travel

The horses fly two per pallet, or flying stable, which is the equivalent of business class. Their comfort and safety is ensured by flying grooms and an on-board veterinarian. Unlike two-legged passengers, the horses not only get their in-flight meals (including special meal requests of course), but are able to snack throughout the trip, on hay or haylage, except when they are taking a nap.

So as they are flying business class, does that mean the horses get flat beds to sleep in? Although horses might occasionally indulge in a spot of lying down to snooze in the sun at home, they actually sleep standing up. They have something called the “stay apparatus,” which allows tendons and ligaments to effectively lock the knees and hocks (in the hind legs) so that they don’t fall over while they’re dozing off. So there’s no need for flat beds on the flight.

A total of 325 horses will be flown into Tokyo across the two Games and the complex logistics for this massive airlift have been coordinated by transport agents, Peden Bloodstock, which has been in charge of Olympic and Paralympic horse transport since Rome 1960 and is the Official Equine Logistics Partner of the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), global governing body for equestrian sport. Peden Bloodstock became title partner of the FEI Best Athlete Award in 2019.

A convoy of 11 state-of-the-art air-conditioned horse trucks, owned by the Japanese Racing Association, transported the precious equine cargo – and 13,500 kilograms of equipment – on the final transfer from Haneda to Baji Koen where the equine superstars had the chance to settle into their Olympic Athlete Village, a.k.a. the stables.

“Like all the athletes arriving into Tokyo for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the horses are honed and ready to compete on the sporting world’s biggest stage,” FEI President Ingmar De Vos said. “After all the challenges the world has faced, finally we’re almost there and now it’s only a matter of days before we hear those magical words, ‘Let the Games begin!’”

Equestrian sport in Tokyo 2020

A record number of countries – 50 – will be competing in the equestrian events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games following the introduction of new formats that limit teams to three members, meaning that more countries will have the opportunity to compete on the Olympic stage than ever before.

A total of seven countries will be fielding full teams in all three Olympic disciplines, including the host nation Japan. The others are Australia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Sweden, and United States of America.

Unique gender equality

Equestrian is the only sport in the Olympic movement in which men and women compete head to head throughout the Games, making it a totally gender neutral sport. And the FEI doesn’t need a policy regarding transgender athletes as there are no requirements for our athletes to state their gender in order to participate in FEI competitions, or at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Equestrian is not a gender-affected sport that relies on the physical strength, stamina, and physique of an athlete as there are no gender based biological advantages. Success in equestrian is largely determined by the unique bond between horse and athlete and refined communication with the horse.

Sustainability

Sustainability is a key theme across the Games, and equestrian is very much a part of that. In line with Pillar 1 of the IOC Sustainability Strategy: Minimum Environmental Burden, the redevelopment of the Japan Racing Association-owned Baji Koen Park as the equestrian venue for Tokyo 2020 has minimised environmental impact and ensured the legacy of the venue used for the Tokyo Games in 1964.

“The original plan for equestrian put forward by the Tokyo Organising Committee was for a totally temporary venue in the Tokyo Bay area, but when the FEI was consulted on this as an option, we pushed for the alternative which was to re-use the 1964 Olympic equestrian venue at Baji Koen,” FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez says. “This was the optimal choice from a sustainability perspective as it minimises environmental impact, but it also ensures the legacy of this wonderful venue.”

The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic & Paralympic Games (TOCOG) has incorporated a further sustainability initiative into the equestrian venue with the incineration of used bedding from the horses’ stables for power generation.

Aligned with Pillar 2 of the IOC Sustainability Strategy: Urban environment plans harmonising with nature, only native species that integrate well with local flora and fauna have been planted at the Sea Forest cross country venue. This includes the use of a native grass species, Zoysia japonica, for the footing on the course itself.

Click here for more information on Equestrian at the Olympic Games.

Media contact:

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

Joao Eduardo Ferreira de Carvalho Wins $25,000 Bainbridge Companies Grand Prix

Joao Eduardo Ferreira de Carvalho and Volt Du Thot ©ESP.

Wellington, FL – June 13, 2021 – The June portion of the ESP Summer Series came to a close with the $25,000 Bainbridge Companies Grand Prix, which saw 26 contenders take on the course designed by Héctor Loyola (PUR) on Sunday. Riding to the top of the standings as the fastest in the jump-off, Brazil’s Joao Eduardo Ferreira de Carvalho and Volt Du Thot were the big winners of the week as they claimed the largest share of the prize money. The victory was especially rewarding for Ferreira de Carvalho considering he had topped the USHJA National Hunter Derby earlier in the week, making for a weekend of wins in the hunter and jumper rings.

Ferreira de Carvalho, who claimed a victory in the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby on Friday, was elated to claim the top prize in the week’s highlight jumper class, as well. “I was really happy with the results in the hunters, and I put in my mind that it would be really nice to win in the hunters and the jumpers, so it was a great day and a great weekend.”

On Friday, Hailey Royce of Wellington, FL and her own Sonic Boom dominated in the $10,000 Bainbridge Companies 1.40m Open Stake to win the class as the only double-clear pair. Going eleventh in the order, Royce and Sonic Boom mastered Loyola’s first-round track, then completed their immediate jump-off in a fault-free time of 47.63 seconds to capture the early lead. Though the rest of the pack chased them down, none were able to come close.

Thursday’s Vita Flex 1.35m Stake saw Gabriel de Matos Machado of Wellington, FL top the leaderboard with RF Casablanca, owned by Raylyn Farms, Inc. Riding twelfth in the order, the pair overtook the initial frontrunners, Daniel Cyphert and Rockstar, by barely a second with a fault-free jump-off time of 41.89 seconds.

In the Junior/Amateur-Owner Medium Jumper Classic, presented by Equiline, Ansley Wright of Wellington, FL and Castlewood Farms’ Diamanto JT Z narrowly grabbed victory by fractions of a second. Competing over 1.30m fences, Wright and Diamanto JT Z were the speediest of four pairs that qualified for the jump-off thanks to their double-clear time of 49.03 seconds.

For more information and results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

Taking It to the Max

At the draw for the FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Paris in 1987 (L to R): Leslie Burr-Lenehan (USA), World Cup Director Max E Ammann, and Nick Skelton (GBR). (FEI Archive)

As the FEI celebrates its centenary, one man’s name stands out when it comes to the development of equestrian sport over the last 100 Years – journalist, historian, art collector, and creator of the FEI World Cup™ Jumping series, Mr. Max Ammann.

There are people who talk, and people who do, and Switzerland’s Max Ammann is very definitely one of the latter. Over a 30-year period from 1978 to 2008, he drove equestrian sport out of a culture of conservative complacency and into an era of energy and progress that has brought us to where we are today.

He didn’t do it alone. He had the support of the three FEI Presidents of his era, and in particular the late Prince Philip who championed many of his innovative ideas.

And the story began in the fishing, farming, and wine growing lakeside village of Ermatingen in Switzerland where his father kept horses on the family farm.

Two businesses

“For over 100 years our family had two businesses. One was local transport and the other was buying fruit and vegetables from farmers and delivering to big shops in Zurich and St Gallen. So we had five horses, and in 1945 my father decided to compete with them. At that time, we had Driving competitions on a local and national level, and he competed from 1946 until 1955. He was quite successful and I was his groom,” Max says.

That led to father and son travelling to many big horse shows over the following years, and when Max moved to New York in 1964 as Foreign Correspondent for Swiss, German, and Austrian newspapers he decided to drop in on the National Horse Show which, at the time, was staged in Madison Square Garden. “I met a lot of people including Bill Steinkraus, Frank Chapot, Kathy Kusner, and Bert de Nemethy. So I started writing about horses and horse shows for (Swiss magazines) Cavallo and Reiter Revue and (American publication) Chronicle of the Horse,” he explains.

He returned to Europe for the FEI World Championships in Jumping at La Baule (FRA) in 1970 and the Olympic Games in Munich (GER) in 1972, and then in 1973 relocated to Switzerland once again when taking up the job of Chief Editor at Luzerner Tagblatt, the daily newspaper in Lucerne.

Agreement

“I had an agreement that I would go to 10 or 15 horses shows every year, so I started with the CSIOs, which were the dominant events at the time, and then began going to indoor shows which were practically unknown. I was the only foreign journalist at s’Hertogenbosch (NED), Amsterdam (NED), Berlin (GER), or Dortmund (GER), but I wrote about the competitions and I could feel that there was something happening in the sport,” Max says.

What he was feeling was the change of mood brought about by the success of those World Championships in La Baule. The 1960s had been very difficult.

“Most international events in showjumping were held outside Europe at the time. The ’64 Olympics were in Tokyo (JPN), in ’68 they were in Montreal (CAN), and in ’66 the World Championships in Jumping were in Argentina. Also that year the big Swamp Fever (Equine Infectious Anaemia) crisis happened, and as a result no continental Europeans competed at the Eventing World Championships in Burghley (GBR) and no Irish or British competed at the European Jumping Championships in Lucerne (SUI).”

Change for the better

But there was a major change for the better in the 1970s in a number of different ways. Jumping grew in popularity after the thrilling World Championships at La Baule in 1970 and the size and scale of the Munich Olympic Games in 1972, which will forever be remembered for the devastating terrorist attack, but which were also the largest yet, setting records in all categories with 195 events and 7,134 athletes from 121 National Olympic Committees.

That led to a coming together of journalists and riders alike, and during the FEI World Championships at Hickstead (GBR) in 1974 the International Alliance of Equestrian Journalists was formed.

The riders then decided they wanted the same kind of representative body, and at a meeting in Geneva in 1977 they established the International Jumping Riders Club of which Max was Secretary for a few years.

With the sport clearly moving in a more positive direction, TV broadcasters became increasingly interested in it. “When we were in Aachen or Hickstead we went to dinner together each evening and of course we talked a lot. We discussed the binding together of shows to create more interest, and that’s how the World Cup idea was born,” Max says.

Indoor shows became the main focus, and originally the plan was to create a Formula 1 motor-racing-style series, “in other words one worldwide tour.” However, Bill Steinkraus felt it was too complicated, in part due to the cost and stress of transporting horses all round the world. So the League system, that still remains to this day, was considered.

Presented

In 1978 Max presented the idea to then FEI Secretary General Fritz Widmer who advised him to take it to a Jumping Committee meeting in Brussels, Belgium where the FEI had its headquarters at the time. They liked it and made a favourable report to FEI President, the late Prince Philip, who invited Max to Windsor to discuss it.

“I had already written the rules and he liked it very much and said two things – ‘First, if we do it, then you have to run it!’ and ‘Now I’m going to translate it from American English into proper English!’”

Then there was the question of who should pay for it. Max spoke with Mark McCormack, manager and founder of IMG group which managed top sports figures and celebrities, but they weren’t interested, instead offering to sign up the world’s top riders. When that didn’t materialise, Max turned to an old friend, former Olympic rider Anders Gernandt, who was now a commentator on Swedish TV. And that was the turning point in the story.

“He put me together with the President of Volvo, Pehr Gyllenhammar, who invited me to dinner with a group including his friend Ulf Bergqvist, a Director of a bank and the Director of the Scandinavium Arena in Gothenburg. They listened to my presentation and I said I’d need 480,000 Swiss Francs which at the time was quite some money! After dinner we sat down and had some Cognac, and Gyllenhammar put out his hand and said, ‘It’s a deal!’ So now I had the agreement of Prince Philip and the President of Volvo and that was sufficient,” Max says.

Concept

So what was it about the concept of the Jumping World Cup that they found so appealing?

“I think it just had to come. I’m not a gambler; I only take calculated risks and I was absolutely sure it would succeed because there were precedents in skiing and football and other sports. And in the meantime, I had talked to many horse shows in New York, Washington, to Gene Mische in Florida, to people in Toronto, Berlin, Dortmund, and Vienna and they were all interested.”

And where did Max get the confidence and skills to put it all together?

“I come from a little village on Lake Constance, and my father had a business so the logical thing when I left Secondary School was to make an apprenticeship in business. So I worked with an international transport company and travelled all around Europe for five years learning the job. Then I worked in shipping companies in Hamburg and Basel, so I had a business education before I switched to journalism in the early 60s. I knew how to make an offer, how to write letters, how to calculate, how to read figures in an annual report, and I spoke English, French, and German and all of that helped,” he explains.

In an obituary after the death of Prince Philip, Max wrote that when HRH was elected FEI President in 1964, words like sponsorship, communications, doping control, marketing and public relations were unknown at the FEI. “It was Prince Philip who brought the FEI forward; he was a visionary but also a very practical man,” he says.

FEI

Max left his job at Luzerner Tagblatt and, with a contract created by the Prince, worked from FEI HQ when it moved from Brussels to Berne. And as the years rolled on, he was involved in the early stages of the creation of the Dressage and Driving World Cups which were based on similar lines.

“The Dressage people became jealous of the Jumpers because they were getting a lot more media attention and there was a lot of discussion about how the Dressage World Cup should be, including some wild ideas. Prince Philip was annoyed by some of the proposals made at a Board meeting, so he told the Dressage Committee to sit with me to sort it out and I told them ‘Gentlemen, I don’t know anything about Dressage or how to develop or promote it, but I can help sell it!’ And a member of the Dressage Committee saved it when suggesting we have a Grand Prix with the best going into the Kur which is the World Cup competition. So through the Grand Prix you preserve the tradition of Dressage and with the Kur you have what people like to see!”

The next discipline that wanted a World Cup was Eventing. “At the Olympics in Seoul in ’88, the Americans wanted it and Roger Haller came to me asking for help to make it happen. Princess Anne was then President and I discussed it with her, but she rightly thought it would be too difficult because Eventing horses don’t compete every week, so nothing came of it,” Max says. However, the FEI Driving World Cup would become a reality.

Seminar

At the FEI Driving World Championships in Hungary in 1989, Max heard the Driving Committee discussing the details of a seminar the following day. “I said to them, what you are talking about is of no importance for the future of the sport; you need to discuss finance, how to create interest, and how to get journalists to cover the sport!”

The following morning, he got a call from Committee President Jack Pemberton asking him to address the seminar, and it went so well he was invited to create an ad hoc Committee of which he would be Chairman. Instead of inviting insiders, however, Max opted to bring in non-specialists including the marketing manager of the Winter Olympics and, after two meetings, they put a proposal to a seminar in Wolfsburg in 2002. Not everyone was initially impressed by the new formula, but a week later the organisers at Aachen expressed an interest and the series began in earnest a year later.

In the lead-in, however, and much to Max’s amusement, a test-run in Gothenburg didn’t meet with everyone’s approval. “I invited all the World Champions of the previous 20 years and they were allowed to train from 11pm to midnight before their event. It was their first experience at a big indoor show, so they drove like maniacs for an hour! Olaf Petersen was course building for the Jumping World Cup and he came racing into my office the following morning and shouted, ‘It looks like a battlefield out there; don’t let those mad Drivers in my arena again!'” Max relates with a laugh.

The FEI Driving World Cup™ survived, however, and went on to become another major success.

Overview

Max’s involvement in equestrianism has given him a great overview. He’s passionate about recording the history of the sport and the two books he wrote for the FEI – “Equestrian Sport in the Olympic Games” and “The History of the FEI Championships” – have become a valued resource.

Looking back on that history, he recalls that not everyone played by the rules down the years. He talks about the Nations Cups staged in Harrisburg, Washington, New York, and Toronto where they ran the classes with just three team-members instead of four, “because they felt four riders with one drop-score was too complicated.” And they broke the rules even further when permitting women onto those teams.

“In the summer of 1950 they had trials for New York and Toronto, and the three riders who qualified were Arthur McCashin, Norma Matthews, and Carol Durant, even though, officially, women were not allowed to compete in Nations Cups at the time – but I think the FEI were half-asleep in Brussels!” Max says with a chuckle.

Talking about his relationship with the three Presidents of his era, he describes Prince Philip as “the best the FEI ever had, an absolute leader and a thinker.” Max learned that HRH didn’t always mean what he said, however.

“He had his specialities when you talked with him. When he said ‘I see,’ he didn’t see at all, so you had to explain more. And when he said ‘I don’t understand,’ you knew he understood perfectly well, but didn’t like what you just said!”

Men’s Club

Max constantly describes the FEI as “a Men’s Club” during those years, and says when Prince Philip’s daughter, Princess Anne, took over the Presidential role, she did a great job but had a much tougher time than her father, simply because she was a woman.

HRH the Infanta Doña Pilar de Borbon was also a good President. “She had a less competitive background than Anne, who was an Olympian and a European champion and was from a horse family. But Doña Pilar loved horses and worked very hard at the FEI,” Max says.

Back on the subject of three-rider Nations Cup Jumping teams, Max says he’s a big advocate of the formula which will be used at this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. “Because we have to make our sport understood by the ordinary people, not just the specialists,” he says earnestly. “I sat for 30 years in press stands at Aachen and Rome and even there you have to watch and make calculations, and that shouldn’t be necessary.”

Reasoning

“I understand the reasoning of riders and Chefs because of course it’s nice to give young riders their first experience and share the responsibility more. But you could do that by having three riders in Superleague teams and allow the lower developing level teams to have four,” he says.

And what if the three-rider format produces strange results? “Well, that’s sport, and sport doesn’t produce justice; it produces winners!” he insists.

Max retired from the FEI in 2008 but he never sits still. As editor of L’Annee Hippique for 30 years, during which time he also produced “about 30” Media Guides and two books on the World Cup, he has continued writing and recently published an extensive history of the Swiss Equestrian Federation. As an art collector and art lover, he is involved in the work of the Foundation for Naive and Outsider Art in St Gallen, which supports lesser-known artists who are “not in the mainstream.”

Speaking about the philosophy behind his successful career, Max says it was built on engaging everyone in conversations, and on his belief that “you shouldn’t hide and you shouldn’t lie! When you make decisions, you have to stand over them and be prepared to explain why you made them.”

Max Ammann made a lot of good ones, and equestrian sport today owes him a great debt of gratitude.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Ronan McGuigan and Elvis Are Kings with Win in $25,000 Ford’s Garage Grand Prix

Ronan McGuigan and Elvis. ©ESP.

Wellington, FL – June 6, 2021 – The first week of the ESP Summer Series took place June 3-6, 2021 at Equestrian Village, with the ESP Equitation Day #1 kicking the week off on June 2. In the week’s highlight event, the $25,000 Ford’s Garage Grand Prix, Ireland’s Ronan McGuigan piloted Blythe Masters’ Elvis to their second major win for the week after topping a field of talented competitors and mastering course designer Andy Christiansen’s (ECU) track.

“It feels great to cap off this week with a victory. Elvis has been super all week. We won the first day, then got second the second day, and I was very happy to win today. I didn’t even get to walk the course since I had to go to another ring, so I relied on some of the other competitors to let me know,” McGuigan admitted. “Rebecca Conway told me to take a stride out between fence one and two, so I just trusted what she told me. I guess I did what all the amateurs do and trusted someone else! I jumped in with a little pace and gave him a little kick at the beginning, so the rest of it worked out nicely.”

The Bainbridge Companies 1.40m Open Stake on Friday saw Colombia’s Juan Manuel Gallego and Adalberto Audi Scappino, owned by Eduardo Sanchez Navarro, ride to a commanding lead of the class early in the order. With a fault-free jump-off time of 39.23 seconds, the partnership ultimately won the class by more than three seconds as the swiftest of eight jump-off contenders. Second place went to McGuigan and Elvis.

On the first day of competition earlier in the week, the results of the Omega Alpha 1.35m Stake were very similar to the leaderboard in the Bainbridge Companies 1.40m Open Stake. McGuigan claimed top honors on the Derby Field with Elvis after overtaking the early frontrunners, Gallego and Adalberto Audi Scappino. McGuigan and Elvis finished in first with a jump-off time of 36.69 seconds, followed by Gallego and his mount in second with a double-clear time of 37.77 seconds.

Selcuk Koksalan kicked off Sunday’s competition on the Derby Field with a win in the Equiline Medium Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Stake after clearing the jump-off in 38.28 seconds with Leyla Stables LLC’s entry, Carla.

For more information and results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.