Tag Archives: FEI

Swiss Steal the Show at St Gallen

Martin Fuchs and Leone Jei (FEI/Martin Dokoupil)

They’d been waiting a long time – a full 26 years since last topping the line-up on home ground at the Grundenmoos Arena – so the Swiss victory in the first leg of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup 2022 Europe Division 1 series at St Gallen was extra-sweet.

Even though they were lying equal-second with The Netherlands and Norway carrying eight faults at the halfway stage of the eight-nation contest, Michel Sorg’s side was filled with confidence. In the end, three second-round clears wrapped it up.

Whip hand

Great Britain had the whip hand at the halfway stage when, with only the best three scores counting for each team, they could drop one of the four-fault efforts posted by Joseph Stockdale (Equine America Caaharel) and Jack Whitaker (Equine America Valmy de la Lane), because pathfinder Harry Charles (Casquo Blue) and anchorman John Whitaker (Equine America Unick du Francport) were both foot-perfect.

But Stockdale was the only member of Di Lampard’s side to keep a clean sheet second time out when they were forced to add eight faults to their scoreline for a final tally of 12. And The Netherlands’ Jack Ansems (Fliere Fluiter), Sanne Thijssen (Con Quidam RB), Jur Vrieling (Long John Silver), and Marc Houtzager (Sterrehof’s Dante) overtook them for runner-up spot when finishing on the same score but in a quicker time.

Team Germany finished fourth on 16 faults, Belgium finished fifth ahead of Brazil with a faster 20-fault result, Norway racked up 24 for seventh spot, and Austria finished eighth and last on a total of 28.

Pressure

It came right down to the last rider into the ring to decide the result, all the pressure piling onto the capable shoulders of the legendary John Whitaker who could force a jump-off with the eventual winners if he could steer a second clear course over Gerard Lachat’s 12-fence track. Both Harry Charles and his nephew Jack Whitaker had collected four faults apiece this time out, but if Uncle John could add another zero to Stockdale’s clear, then it would go to a third-round head-to-head to decide the result.

It was looking really good until Unick du Francport clipped the middle element of the triple combination, leaving the cool, calm Swiss clear winners, adding nothing more to their first-round scoreline.

They were favourites from the outset, and the double-clear posted by pathfinders Martin Fuchs and Leone Jei proved pivotal. The Swiss star, who turns 30 next month and who recently added the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ title to the individual European gold medal he bagged last September, produced two spectacular rounds, while team-mate, 20-year-old Edouard Schmitz, followed a first-round mistake with Quon at the first element of the double at fence four with a brilliant run at their second attempt.

Pius Schwizer was looking foot-perfect until lowering the final two fences in round one, but produced a copybook second effort with Vancouver de Lanlore. The enthusiastic spectators gasped in disbelief when Swiss anchor Steve Guerdat made it all the way to the last with Venard du Cerisy in round one only for that to fall, and as it happened, the 2012 Olympic champion didn’t need to jump again because the job was done and dusted.

History-making

There was a real sense of history-making and Fuchs was delighted to be part of it. “Whenever I was on the team in St Gallen we never won, but we said this year now we have to win, and finally we did it!

“We were confident because Edoaurd’s horse jumped really well and Pius’ horse too, and we changed his plan for the second round to put an extra stride in the last line. And Steve had one rail at the last fence, so we all thought he would deliver in the second round, but in the end, he didn’t need to go,” he explained.

Lachat’s course certainly played its part, the line from fences six to eight proving particularly influential. “After the water jump (fence 6), there was the plank and then a short five strides to a liverpool oxer – you needed good rideability and a careful horse, and you needed scope for the oxer, so this kind of asked everything of the horse and rider,” he pointed out.

Big moment

It was a big moment posting this historic result in front of the home crowd.

“We knew we had a strong team as we were already good in the Grand Prix. I think the crowd knew that as well and they really cheered for us this afternoon. This is an amazing feeling. I felt my horse was super today and I’m happy we could contribute to this home win!” Fuchs added, while Schmitz said, “I will never forget this day!”

Guerdat was quietly happy with the result too. “I’m now a little older, so my fault at the last fence in the first round bothered me a little less than it used to! In the Nations Cup at the end, it is the team result that counts and it worked out today. It has been a great show, with great public, perfect organisation, and very nice courses from Gerard. We will have nice memories from this weekend for sure!” he said.

Swiss Chef d’Equipe Michel Sorg also had plenty to be happy about. “Edouard was already good in the Grand Prix at La Baule a few weeks ago and again here on Saturday – I am really happy that he confirmed that here today and I’m really proud of all my team!” he said.

Result here.

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Ireland Cruises in Canada

Andrew Bourns (IRL) riding Seatop Blue (FEI/Mackenzie Clark)

As the rain began to fall on course for the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Canada, the Irish felt right at home.

Langley, British Columbia’s Thunderbird Show Park hosted six teams for the final leg of the North and Central America and Caribbean division of the Nations Cup series, but none could put enough pressure on the four-man squad of Daniel Coyle (Legacy), Shane Sweetnam (James Kann Cruz), Andrew Bourns, and Conor Swail (Count Me In). Led by Chef d’Equipe Michael Blake, the group finished on just five faults. It was a closer race for the remaining podium placings, as Mexico rallied for second (13 faults) ahead of Australia (22).

“You’ve got to be careful — for me anyway — in the Nations Cup not to get too complacent in the second round. We had a great first round, but a lot of other teams got stronger in the second round. We had to come back just as strong,” said Bourns.

Peter Holmes’ technical 1.60m track offered little breathing room, which led to rails falling throughout his winding course. As other teams struggled to crack the code to a clear round, Ireland quickly pulled ahead, finishing the first round with just four faults against them and two rails in hand. The group would only draw off in the second round, as Coyle improved upon a four-fault score to jump clear and Bourns produced one of just two double-clear efforts on the day aboard Seatop Blue. When Sweetnam added just a single time fault aboard his exciting 9-year-old James Kann Cruz, it clinched the win for the team. Team anchor and World No. 5 Swail did not even need to jump a second round with his partner from the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals, Count Me In, despite Mexico adding just 1 fault to their total in Round 2.

“Obviously we have got good depth, and I’m so lucky to have such a good bunch of people,” Blake said. “It’s very easy to drive a good car, and we’ve got one here.”

Ireland has made the podium in every Nations Cup event at the venue since 2017, including a 2018 victory. Swail and Coyle were on that squad and bookended their teammates, who delivered with meaningful mounts. James Kann Cruz excelled in the Irish Sport Horse gelding’s Nations Cup debut, while Bourns recorded his first Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ victory with a horse that his parents picked out as a foal.

“My father is here, so it’s a real family affair,” Bourns said. “I have to say, [Seatop Blue] is just as part of the family as I am.”

FULL RESULTS

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

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

Training Tougher Than Competition for Ukraine’s Equestrian Vaulting Girls

Ukrainian Vaulting team in training in Bernolákovo (SVK) (Copyright: FEI/Richard Juilliart)

Bratislava (SVK), 30 May 2022 – There is no easy way to prepare for an international competition. But five young equestrian Vaulters have needed to dig extra deep for grit and determination as they trained for their first ever international competition.

Polina Shovkova (14), sisters Katya (14) and Jenya (11) Panasenko, Sonia Shulga (14), and Marta Lopaienko (15) became the first team to ever represent Ukraine in international Vaulting when they participated in the one star competition in Kaposvár (HUN) from 20 to 22 May.

The team’s participation in Kaposvár came just a few short months after fleeing their hometown of Poltova to escape the war that has upturned the lives of millions of Ukrainians. They are currently living and training in Bernolákovo, a suburb of Bratislava (SVK), where they have been welcomed by members of the local Vaulting community and supported financially by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) Solidarity Fund.

“We didn’t have competitions in Ukraine because we are the first Vaulting team,” Marta explained.

“We didn’t feel too comfortable with the horses here in Slovakia at first because they are bigger and have a different rhythm to our horses at home. But now we know the character of each horse.

“We were a bit worried about taking part in our first international competition and it was important for us. But as Katya, our trainer from Ukraine, always says: ‘You have to do this performance just for you.’”

Joining the Vaulters on their sporting journey is 29-year-old Anthony Bro-Petit, himself a former international competitor for France, who has played a key role in developing the sporting infrastructure for Vaulting in Ukraine prior to the war.

“Preparing young athletes for a competition or a Championship is always tough because even when they are motivated, the mental focus is very hard to maintain. The war has added an extra layer of mental difficulty for these girls. It’s not easy to fully concentrate on your training when you know your family is not safe.

“The girls are still very young, and it is hard to know how much I can push them during their training session. But this is a good learning experience for me. I’m still learning as a coach and I have to develop my skills.

“We would have been able to prepare more if there was no war. But the team did really well in their first international competition and now we know which aspects we need to focus on more during our training.”

With their competition experience in Kaposvár under their belt, the team now have their sights set on the international Vaulting competition that will be held in Samorin (SVK) next month. The road ahead will be easier to navigate than the one they took in March this year.

“We knew that we would have to leave Poltava about a week before we had to go,” said Marta. “We first thought that we were going to France, but two days before we left, we were told that we’re going to Slovakia.

“We were on the road for three days. It was a very long journey, because of the traffic jams everywhere. It usually takes us one day to drive to the Slovak border.

“The first night we didn’t stop and we kept going. But the second night we stopped near the Carpathian Mountains, and we stayed in a flat with just two rooms. There were 15 of us, and the girls and I slept on one sofa, and the others slept on the floor. Then the third day we crossed the border very quickly. We thought it would be slow with all the traffic, but we crossed over very fast.

“We were not frightened, but we were really sad and tired. And when we crossed the border, we all started to cry.”

The girls’ trainer Kateryna (Katya) Andreiva and her 18-month son David, as well as three mothers, have accompanied the Vaulters to Slovakia, while other members of their families have all stayed back in Ukraine.

It is a situation that has caused Katya’s and Jenya’s mother Ekateryna a great deal of anguish. “When you first come from war, you think that it would have been better to stay at home because your mind cannot feel safe,” Ekateryna said.

“It’s harder to be in a safe country because you feel at fault for leaving your family. My mother is in the Kharkiv region and I know that she’s sitting in a bomb shelter while I’m here in Slovakia. But we are mums and everything we do we do for our children. You don’t think about yourself. You just think about your children.”

The Vaulters have settled into a routine at the local school, which is currently housing the group from Poltava, as well as 40 refugees from other parts of Ukraine. The girls begin each weekday morning by joining online lessons with their school in Poltova, which leaves them the rest of the day to train at the local riding school, and at the school gym that has a mechanical horse and barrels.

“It is good to see that the girls are training really hard,” said the Secretary General of the Slovak Equestrian Federation Zuzana Bačiak Masaryková.

“The community here in the Bratislava area have been extremely generous to the team. The owner of the shop that sells Vaulting shoes has given the girls free pairs, and other people have provided us with everything they require.

“My aim is to give these girls all that they need to train, so that they can forget about the war, at least for a few hours each day.”

The Vaulters and their mothers still hope that they can return home to Poltava after the competition in Samorin (SVK) that will take place from 9 to 12 June.

Until then the girls are determined to continue their training. “We are not sure if Vaulting is our sport in the long term,” Marta explained. “But in 2023, our aim is to take part in the Vaulting World Championship and we’re going to train hard for this.”

FEI Solidarity Relief Fund for Ukraine

Media contact:

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

Houghton Hall Proves a Happy Hunting Ground for Home Talent

Tom McEwen and Bob Chaplin. (FEI/Libby Law)

A team consisting of multi-medalled riders and young talent scored a home win at Houghton Hall (GBR) in the second leg of the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™. Team GB finished on a three-phase score of 114.0 penalties, a narrow margin over an all-female US team in second on 117.9. Sweden, another all-female quartet, were not far behind on 122.0 penalties, and are now Series leaders on 160 points after a third placing in the first leg, Pratoni del Vivaro (ITA). Britain and Switzerland are in joint second place in the current Series Standings, on 100 points.

Tom McEwen, who won team gold and individual silver medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, led the CCI-S 4* section from start to finish. He was joined by Piggy March, who won team gold and individual silver at last year’s European Championships, and two younger riders who were making their Senior Team debut for Great Britain, although 22-year-olds Heidi Coy and Phoebe Locke have both had success on Youth Teams at the European Championships. Locke was unfortunate to fall off another horse earlier in the day, and was stood down by medics from competing, so her team horse was withdrawn. Despite the precaution, Locke is reported to be in good medical health.

Coy, the daughter of Dairy Farmer, is based with her horses on the family farm in Leicestershire which produces milk for Stilton Cheese. Her double clear to finish third individually on the diminutive mare, Russal Z, was a substantial help to the team. “I have produced her up the levels. The pressure was there. I didn’t want to let my team, my horse, or my owners down. I was mainly thrilled with her fantastic dressage score because this has always been her weaker phase. To follow it up with a double clear — you can’t ask for much more. She has a heart of gold and she tries her best for you even though she looks like a little pony – she is only 15.3hh. I’m so grateful to be on a team with the likes of Piggy and Tom. Phoebe and I did Young Riders and Pony Teams together, so it’s nice for us to be on this team together.”

McEwen, who also scored the fastest cross-country time of the day on Bob Chaplin, summed up the performance: “We were down to three members for the cross-country after poor Phoebe withdrew, but the team has done amazingly. The British team has such strength and depth, they could pick many teams. I was really pleased with my horse Bob, who is off to Luhmuhlen to do his first five-star. He has been phenomenal this year, so I am looking forward to it.”

Discussing the significance of The Nations Cup Series, McEwen said: “They are great for introducing younger people on teams. It’s a good way for them to gain experience and also for everyone to get the swing of things when it comes to team competitions. Otherwise, it comes around once a year and it all feels rather important.”

The FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing Series moves to Strzegom (POL) from 22-26 June, the third of nine events in the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ Series.

Full results here.

by Eleanore Kelly

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Sweden Takes Command in Compiègne

Antonia Ramel (SWE) and Curiosity. (FEI/Laurent Zabulon)

Heading into the final day of competition at the FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ in Compiègne (FRA), it was apparent it would take a monumental shift in momentum for Sweden to relinquish its grasp on the lead. Still, the dominance with which the squad of Juliette Ramel (Buriel K.H.), Antonia Ramel (Curiosity), and Patrik Kittel (Touchdown), led by Chef d’Equipe Jo Bena, executed victory was eye-opening. When Kittel and Touchdown received an 82.025 percent score for their Freestyle, it left Sweden’s final margin of victory at 32 points. Spain (48 points) finished second, with Belgium (51 points) third.

The win marked the third for Sweden at Compiègne in the last five years, having also triumphed in 2018 and 2021.

“We were a bit ahead of the others this time, and I’m very happy about that. They are doing so well in the ring and also in their training, and it looks very promising for the future,” said Chef d’Equipe Jo Bena (SWE).

Each point was equal to an athlete’s placing, with lower numbers reflecting top performances. All athletes competed in Saturday’s Grand Prix before splitting across Sunday’s Grand Prix Special and Grand Prix Freestyle tests, with the three best results tallied. No Swedish rider received a point tally in double digits, with all three making the podium in at least one test. After recording just 10 points from the Grand Prix, Sweden was even more dominant on Sunday, adding just six points to their score. While Kittel was the highest placing Nations Cup rider in the Grand Prix Freestyle, Juliet Ramel finished second in the Special (75.277%), with Antonia Ramel just behind her in third (72.043%).

“The horses have done very fault-free tests, and if there have been small faults, we have still be able to pick it up with high points,” Kittel said. “I think that’s what I’m most happy with. The thing is: the horses have all just been there for us through the entire weekend.”

Sweden put forth a squad of veteran riders — each an Olympic veteran — but the horses brought forward were mixed in experience. Touchdown had only performed two previous Freestyle tests at the CDI5* level and had never before contested a CDIO event. Curiosity, formerly trained in jumping, is also new to the level, having represented Sweden in one previous Nations Cup event at Aachen (GER).

“He’s been with me for a long time,” Antonia said. “He was in the beginning a jumping horse, which he did until he was six. I’ve educated him on my own, and I’ve had him now for seven years.”

With three appearances in the Olympic Games and a bronze medal from the European Championships, Buriel K.H. stood tall as the equine veteran of the group. The gelding performed with remarkable consistency, recording just 3 points in the Grand Prix (75.391%) and two points in the Grand Prix Special.

“He’s an amazing character. He always has my back,” Juliette said. “I’ve had him since he was 7; now he’s 16. So we’ve had a long partnership.”

Sweden’s win put them atop the standings for the 2022 FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ season with 15 points. Spain sits second with 13 points, two ahead of Belgium (11 points). The FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ returns 23-26 June in Rotterdam (BEL).

“It means a lot [to start the season strongly]. It’s always good to have a victory in a five-star Nations Cup to start with, and then we can go on with the rest,” Bena said. “And we have been lucky and also good, I would say, [in previous years], because we have won in Compiègne before. We like it very much here.”

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

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

New FEI Solidarity Relief Fund initiatives for Ukraine launched in May 2022

Photo: Ukraine’s Diana Borovyk and Baby Royal at the FEI Dressage European Championships 2021 for Youth in Oliva (ESP) © Lukasz Kowalski.

A recent visit by a Ukrainian delegation at the FEI Sports Forum 2022 in Lausanne sees additional initiatives and projects approved for funding by the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund.

Established in February 2022, the dedicated CHF 1 Million FEI Solidarity Relief Fund for Ukraine has been actively supporting a number of equestrian related schemes across Ukraine and neighbouring nations receiving Ukrainian horses and athletes. This includes, among others, the creation of a logistical hub in Granat (UKR), located between Lviv and the Polish border, to prepare horses for transfer into the European Union; funding and distribution to regional hubs of critical horse supplies such as feed and bedding; and the emergency evacuation of a Vaulting team.

In order to deliver the aid efficiently and have the desired impact in situ, the FEI has been working hand in hand with the Ukrainian Equestrian Federation (UEF) and the UEF Charity Foundation, with FEI President and Chair of the Solidarity Committee Ingmar De Vos (BEL) referring to their Ukrainian colleagues as their “eyes and ears on the ground.”

For the FEI and the Ukrainian delegation, headed up by Secretary General Mykhailo Parkhomchuk from the Ukrainian Equestrian Federation (UEF) and accompanied by members from both the UEF and the Charity Foundation, this recent in-person visit provided a platform to discuss the priorities, review ongoing support systems in place, but also establish new programmes and set long term objectives for Ukraine and the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund.

Following these discussions, among the programmes being launched in Ukraine throughout May, four new athlete scholarships have been allocated; bespoke veterinary supplies have been sourced and prepared for dispatch; as well as financing for the purchase of 80 temporary horse boxes in order to support the setup of additional horse hubs in Ukraine.

Based on the existing FEI Solidarity Athlete Scholarship scheme, two Ukrainian Jumping athletes – Oleksandr Prodan and Anastasia Bondarieva – and two Ukrainian Dressage athletes – Danylo Konovalov and Diana Borovyk – have been selected to receive the scholarship grant to support training and competition related preparation with the ultimate goal of representing Ukraine at FEI Championships in 2022 and 2023.

Aged between 17 and 24, they were already competing at international level before the onset of the war, but the current circumstances meant they had to put many of their aspirations on hold. For Diana Borovyk, having survived the blockade of Sumy and taking up residence in her local equestrian centre to be with her horses while the war raged around her, being able to continue training and competing is “a dream come true.” She has also received a personal invitation to participate in a Young Riders Class at the CHIO Aachen Festival 2022, where she has every intention of showing her sporting determination and perseverance in the face of adversity.

The dedicated emergency veterinary supplies, which are being packaged into specialised kits and dispatched to strategic locations around Ukraine, include over the counter as well as prescription medication so the veterinarians onsite have all the necessary supplies to care for the horses remaining in the country. The bespoke veterinary kits have been sourced through the FEI Veterinary Department and are entirely funded by the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Ukraine Relief Fund, which is supplementing the FEI Solidarity Fund with 100 percent of all donations raised being distributed through the FEI to ensure effective and targeted use of the funds.

The USEF Ukraine Relief Fund has already reached over 100,000 USD and continues to work closely with US based philanthropic organisations to leverage their fundraising networks to support the horses and people of Ukraine.

In addition to the existing horse hub in Granat which was financed by the FEI to prepare all the necessary documentation for horses to cross the border and has been operational since March, the FEI is now working with the UEF Charity Foundation to supply 80 horseboxes to two new hubs which are being built to allow horses to remain safely in Ukraine. The new hubs are located near existing stables so the horses will have access to all the necessary infrastructures and can continue to train in good conditions.

These last two initiatives are especially relevant given the unknown when it comes to the duration of the conflict and the need to work together to keep horses and athletes safe in Ukraine. For FEI President Ingmar De Vos (BEL), there is a clear progression in the support structure and goals of the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund. “At the onset of the war, the FEI reacted quickly to the situation and set up the Solidarity Fund with the initial outreach aimed at sourcing and funding for immediate and vital supplies as well as evacuation related procedures, unaware of how long the conflict would perdure and how devastating it would be.

“We have now reached a point where we can be more strategic because we have the systems in place, so the meetings in Lausanne with the Ukrainian delegation at the end of April were really fruitful, and we can already see several programmes and initiatives launched as a result.

“The initiatives are a mix of short to mid-term objectives aimed at keeping individuals and horses safe and well in Ukraine, but also long-term future proofing to ensure the sport is not entirely put on hold and can recover after the war. It has been awe-inspiring to see the global equestrian community come together to support Ukraine and we will continue to do everything in our power to maximise the reach of the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund to help the equestrian community and the horse lovers of Ukraine.”

About the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund:

The FEI set aside a CHF 1 Million Solidarity Relief Fund for the equestrian community in Ukraine, following the invasion by Russian military forces. The allocation was approved by the FEI Executive Board during a meeting convened on 28 February 2022, where members also unanimously condemned the invasion and agreed to remove all international equestrian events in Russia and Belarus from the 2022 FEI calendar. The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) has also joined forces with the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund, establishing the USEF Ukraine Relief Fund to Support Ukraine horses and equestrians, with 100% of funds raised going to the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund to be distributed by the FEI.

About the UEF Charity Foundation:

The Charity Foundation is registered in Belgium and its mission is to help the Ukrainian equestrian community during the crisis. The Foundation works closely with the FEI and national equestrian federations. For all the latest information and activities, visit https://helpukrainehorses.eu/.

Media contact:

Olivia Robinson
Director, Communications
olivia.robinson@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 35

Swiss Team Prove Age Is No Barrier in Eventing with Nations Cup Win

L to R: Beat Sax, Mélody Johner, Nadja Minder, Robin Godel, and Chef d’equipe Dominik Burger. (FEI/Richard Juilliart)

It was a double victory for the Swiss, when Robin Godel’s Jumping clear round clinched the individual prize and a win for Team Switzerland. This was the first leg of the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ and took place in Pratoni del Vivaro (ITA). France, who were overnight leaders going into the final day, finished a close second, and Sweden, who were overall winners of the Series in 2021, finished third. The home side Italy was fifth.

It was a tense finish after the French team left Godel no room for error in the Jumping phase. The 23-year-old athlete kept his cool on Grandeur de Lully CH, to incur just one time penalty which sealed the deal for his team. “I was very focused, but I tried to have only good pressure,” he said after his round. “It was an amazing week for the team. We did good on the cross-country; the four riders were very impressive and the horses gave all they had. For the World Championships it is exciting.”

Speaking about this as a test event for this year’s FEI World Championships for Eventing, Godel said, “It is amazing here; the ground is wonderful; I have never cantered on ground like this. For the World Championships, we want qualification for Paris (Olympics) and that’s the main focus and for sure we will be going for the podium too.”

Pratoni has proved a happy hunting ground for the Swiss, who won the Nations Cup here in 2019. The team this year consisted of two Nations Cup first timers: 62-year-old Beat Sax, who has just one horse to compete and has been eventing for 45 years, and 20-year-old Nadja Minder. They were joined by Tokyo Olympic riders Godel and Mélody Johner.

Six-time Olympian Andrew Nicholson has been coaching the Swiss team for several years and summed up their performance: “It was outstanding. They keep getting better, more confident, and are pulling together as a team. They are passionate and want to do it and they are making the younger ones hungry, which then pushes the older riders.”

Saturday’s Cross-Country shook up the leaderboard and left it tight at the top. Switzerland finished just 0.1 of a penalty behind France going into the final phase. Germany, who led the way after the dressage phase, was relegated to 9th after just two of their team members completed. Sweden, who was in eighth after the dressage, produced four strong Cross-Country performances to climb to third.

Pratoni del Vivaro will be hosting the FEI World Championships for Eventing and Driving, from 15-25 September. Course Designer Giuseppe della Chiesa and Director of the Championships concluded: “From a sports side the cross-country went well here this week. From the side of the organisation, there’s a lot to do yet but we are getting there, and it was very important to have this competition as a Nations Cup and also as a test event. The nature of the soil here is something unique. Horses love it and if it rains, it doesn’t change it and there are very few places in the world like that. It is an important venue as the Olympic venue in 1960 and is one of the very few Olympic venues which is still used for the same purpose.”

The FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing action moves to Houghton Hall (GBR) from 26-29 May, the second of nine events in the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ Series.

Full results here.

by Eleanore Kelly

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

FEI Publishes Second Part of EHV-1 Report on 2021 Outbreak in Mainland Europe

Lausanne (SUI), 22 April 2022 — The FEI has published Part 2 of the Report into the 2021 outbreak of the neurological form of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) in mainland Europe. This section of the Report focuses on the Return to Competition protocols put in place to ensure the safe resumption of FEI Events after the six-week FEI-imposed lockdown on international sport in Continental Europe.

Part 2 of the Report also focuses on the EHV-1 By-Laws and sanctioning system, and evaluates their effectiveness, along with the elements that were subsequently incorporated into the FEI Veterinary Regulations 2022 approved at the FEI Hybrid General Assembly in November 2021.

The 30-page Report (Part 2), together with over 200 pages of Annexes, has been produced by FEI Veterinary Director Dr Göran Åkerström and Grania Willis, former FEI Communications Director and now Executive Consultant to the FEI.

“It was important to take a really forensic look at the 2021 EHV-1 outbreak itself, and this was the basis of Part 1 of the Report, but it was equally important to review the Return to Competition measures post-lockdown,” Dr Åkerström said. “This is what we have done in Part 2, along with the related By-Laws and the resulting amendments to the FEI Regulations.

“Knowing how busy the members of our community are in their daily lives, we have simplified things to make the Report a more user-friendly experience by adding a dynamic Table of Contents, so that readers can go directly to the elements/sections they wish to read, as we did with Part 1 of the Report.”

Part 2 of the Report is published here, on a dedicated page within the Biosecurity Hub of the FEI website home to all the content related to the investigation into the 2021 outbreak in mainland Europe.

It sits alongside Part 1 of the Report published on 28 February 2021, which provides a comprehensive and factual picture of the outbreak, including the series of events, causes, roles, and responsibilities, and analysis.

Part 3 of the Report, elements of which will be presented at the FEI Sports Forum 2022 (25-26 April), will incorporate further risk mitigation of EHV-1, including conclusions from the scientific EHV-1 vaccination review commissioned by the FEI, and the suggested way forward. This concluding section of the Report, with the Sports Forum presentations incorporated as Annexes, will then be published as Part 3 in May 2022.

Media contacts:

Olivia Robinson
Director, Communications
olivia.robinson@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 35

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46+

Rodolpho Riskalla: “You can do the job even if you’re disabled”

Rodolpho Riskalla (BRA) riding Don Henrico at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games (© FEI/Liz Gregg)

The April edition of The Para Equestrian Digest is now out!

This month, Paralympic & World Championship medallist Rodolpho Riskalla (BRA) provides his views of what businesses can do to provide a more inclusive environment for people with disabilities.

About The Para Equestrian Digest

The FEI launched The Para Equestrian Digest in February 2022.  The online magazine was created for Para Equestrian athletes and the people connected to the sport so they can share – in their own words – their personal experiences and disability stories. Every month, the Digest will put the spotlight on an athlete or project in Para Equestrian sport with the aim of improving disability awareness and inclusion.

Previous editions of The Para Equestrian Digest: https://www.fei.org/stories/lifestyle/my-equestrian-life/para-equestrian-digest

March 2022: US Paralympian and 2021 FEI Against All Odds Award winner Beatrice De Lavalette talks about mental health and how she coped with losing both her legs in the airport terrorist attack in Brussels (BEL) on 22 March 2016.

February 2022: Five-time Paralympic gold medallist and two-time European Para Dressage champion Natasha Baker (MBE, OBE) talks about ableism and what can be done to change people’s attitudes towards disability.

Media contact:

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

Fuchs Wins the Title with the Horse of His Heart

(L to R) runner-up Harrie Smolders (NED), winner Martin Fuchs (SUI), and third-placed Jens Fredricson (SWE). (FEI/Richard Juilliart)

Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs was rightly proud when standing top of the podium as winner of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2022 Final in Leipzig, Germany. He came so close to clinching the trophy at the last Final in 2019 when slotting in behind his compatriot and three-time champion Steve Guerdat, and as he said, “I’ve been a couple of times second in Championships, and you obviously have it in mind you could be second again with the best riders in the world coming after me today.”

But in the end, he and his trusty steed Chaplin were the only ones in the leading pack to stand firm in the closing stages. Chaplin gave him everything, and more, over two rounds of tough jumping in which only three of the 30 starters left both courses intact. When Sweden’s Jens Fredricson was one of those, he finished third behind The Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders who claimed the second step of the podium.

Held the lead

America’s McLain Ward held the lead as the final day began, but a first-round error with Contagious left the 2017 champion vulnerable. He shared a four-fault tally with Smolders as the second round got underway, with Fuchs stalking the two of them carrying just five and on level pegging with young British star Harry Charles riding Romeo.

But a pole off the first element of the triple combination second time out saw Charles lose his grip, and when Smolders’ gelding, Monaco, clipped the following vertical, then Fuchs was quickly moving up the order.

Ward had no leeway now when last to go; any mistake would see his advantage unravel, and when his 13-year-old gelding lowered the middle element of the triple combination and also the white planks three fences from home, Fuchs had it in the bag, becoming only the fourth Swiss rider in the long history of the FEI Jumping World Cup series to hold the trophy aloft.

He rode Chaplin in Thursday’s first competition but swapped for The Sinner in Friday’s second leg. “After having a rail down on Friday, I wasn’t so sure I had made the right plan. But then I was still sitting in third place, so I thought two clear rounds with Chaplin on Sunday and we’ll be on the podium.

“That I end up winning this prestigious and historical competition obviously is a dream come true. All the best of the best riders’ names are written on this trophy and now to add mine is fantastic!” he said. He is the second member of the Fuchs family to win it; his uncle Markus Fuchs took the title with the brilliant Tinka’s Boy back in 2001.

Upset

Talking about losing his lead in Friday’s competition but somehow holding on for victory, he said, “When I came out on Friday, I walked to the warm-up and was pretty upset, but then Steve said, ‘Congratulations, now you must win on Sunday after what you did today!’ In hindsight when I looked at the video of my round, I was very happy, though obviously I was a bit lucky that I ended the course with these four points. It was a good plan that Chaplin had two days of rest and came back today to produce two clear rounds”

This was Smolders’ second time to finish in runner-up spot; his last was partnering Emerald back in 2016 when Guerdat posted the first of his three wins. But the Dutchman was delighted with his horse. “This was his first Championship, and I wasn’t sure how it would be. We knew he could do it one day, but over three days it’s a totally different story. He was coping with it very easily, so I think this won’t be his last Championship,” the delighted Dutchman said.

Plenty to celebrate

Meanwhile, Jens Fredricson also had plenty to celebrate. The older brother of Swedish phenomenon Peder Fredricson never touched a pole, and although others may have been surprised to see him on the podium, he wasn’t a bit surprised himself. He was lying ninth as the day began, and he and his horse, Markan Cosmopolit, were in spectacular form.

“I had great expectations actually and I enjoyed every second; it’s fantastic to be here doing what I love!” he said.

He describes himself as a “hobby rider” but his CV would suggest he’s long been a serious contender with a lifetime of international successes behind him. “I work at Flyinge and Stromsholm. I’m responsible for the next generation of riding instructors in Sweden,” he explained.

His last time at an FEI World Cup Final was on home ground in Gothenburg in 2013, and he admitted he’s made quite a few changes to his riding style since then. Partly due to the influence of his younger brother, Peder.

“I had the advantage of watching him going up to World No. 1. We talked almost every day so even if I wasn’t at the shows, I was there mentally. I followed his thinking and his development and I tried to do the same things, and I’ve changed a little bit my approach to the fences, and I now have a horse with very big scope. So I can sit a bit more still and have a better style. Before I used to throw my heart over and then we went over together; now when I look at the videos of my riding and it looks quite okay! I’m blessed that I have such good contact with my little brother. One of the most fantastic things in our sport is that I’m 55 years old and getting better every day. If I was running 100 metres, I would be less good every day!” he said with a laugh.

He also pointed out how great it is to see the younger generation rising through the ranks. “You want young riders coming up; there are some in their 20s like Jack (Whitaker, GBR) and Harry (Charles, GBR) and others. It’s important to have positive young riders coming along with good horses; that’s how the sport develops and gets better,” he pointed out.

Biggest names

Fuchs of course is one of those, not yet 30 but already one of the very biggest names in the sport. Over the last five years he has rarely been off the podium at any of the majors, taking individual silver at the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2018, runner-up at the last World Cup Final in 2019, and following with individual European gold that same year before taking team gold and individual silver at the FEI European Championships in 2021. Now he’s topped all that by taking the trophy every rider treasures: the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup.

And he did it with the big, brave, and charming Chaplin who he calls “the horse of my heart!” Many of the Swiss rider’s biggest wins were achieved with his brilliant grey Clooney who he describes as “a superstar and the most talented horse I’ve ever had.” But Chaplin is also super-special.

“He is just the biggest fighter; he doesn’t have the ability that Clooney has, but at the end he always gives everything. It was nice in the past few weeks because we got a lot of photos of his first foals, because last year he started breeding with some mares, so in the last two weeks we have a lot of pictures of new Chaplin babies so that was exciting. And now to come here and win the World Cup Final with him….”

For sure that is a dream come true.

Result here.

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46