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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.

German Olympian Daniel Deusser Takes Longines World Number One Slot

Photo: Daniel Deusser. (FEI/Dirk Caremans)

Olympic bronze medallist Daniel Deusser (GER) is back in the number one spot in the Longines Rankings for the third time. He takes over at the top with a total of 3,385 points.

Deusser, a member of the German squad that took team bronze at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, was lying second at the end of the previous rankings period just 25 points behind 2012 Olympic champion, Steve Guerdat (SUI), who has held the position since February 2020.

Deusser is no stranger to being world number one. In 2017 he took over pole position from fellow-countryman Christian Ahlmann who had enjoyed a lengthy period at the top and in 2015, Deusser broke the 16-month reign of Scott Brash (GBR).

Based in Belgium, Deusser was part of the silver medal winning team at the Longines FEI European Championships 2019 in Rotterdam (NED), just pipped at the last fence by Belgium. He was also part of the silver medal winning teams at the European Championships in 2013 and 2015.

With his loyal stallion Cornet d’Amour, Deusser won the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Lyon (FRA) in 2014 and finished third in Gothenburg (SWE) in 2016.

As the equestrian calendar starts opening up again, the new rankings reflect some strong points-earning performances, with Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs staying in third position on 3,101, Ben Maher (GBR) up into fourth on 3,008 ahead of Kent Farrington (USA) and Scott Brash (GBR). Sweden’s Peder Fredricson has dropped from fourth to seventh, ahead of Ireland’s Darragh Kenny. McLain Ward (USA) and Marlon Modolo Zanotelli (BRA) make up the top 10 with just three points between them.

The full Longines Rankings list is published here.

Media contact:

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

Phelps Media Group Announces the Death of Founder and CEO Mason Phelps, Jr.

Phelps Media Group Announces the Death of Founder and CEO Mason Phelps, Jr.

 

Wellington, Fla. – May 19, 2021 – It is with great sadness and the deepest regrets that Phelps Media Group announces the passing of its founder and Chief Executive Officer, Mason Phelps, Jr. Phelps passed away unexpectedly but peacefully at home of a heart attack. On behalf of the entire team at Phelps Media Group, we extend the deepest condolences to his family, friends, and loved ones.

Mason Phelps, Jr. was the epitome of a lifelong equestrian, maintaining an undeniable relevance in the sport that has defined his personal and professional life. His contributions to the equestrian world include being an Olympic athlete, groom, trainer, event manager, governance leader, media executive, and philanthropy organizer.

“With the passing of Mason Phelps, the entire equestrian community has suffered an unimaginable loss,” said Lenore Phillips, President of Phelps Media Group. “Phelps Media Group and our team of dedicated marketing professionals will continue its professional efforts with the passion Mason would have wished and carry his tenacity of spirit in our future endeavors.”

Born in 1949, Phelps’ passion for horses and equestrian sports started early and he was only sixteen when he was invited to participate in his first training clinic with the United States Equestrian Team. In 1968, he was named US Combined Training Association’s Rider of the Year and was alternate for the U.S. Three-Day Team for the Mexico City Olympic Games. His career as a trainer began in 1972, working first as an assistant at Flintridge Riding Club and later developing his own training stable for hunter/jumpers until his retirement from competition in the late 1990s.

With a proclivity for innovation, Phelps paved the way launching dozens of ingenious events throughout his career. Whether they were equestrian competitions or philanthropic fundraisers, his successful events were often the talk of the town with packed attendance. For example, in 1970, he created and produced the AA-Rated Christmas Show in San Antonio, Texas, an annual event that is still an integral part of the Texas equestrian community. In 1976, Phelps founded the American Jumping Derby (later the International Jumping Derby) in Newport, Rhode Island. The first of its kind, it quickly became a major show on the East Coast jumping circuit through 1988. In 1977, Phelps created the New England Horsemen’s Association Hunt Seat Medal, also still a popular event to this day. In the late 1970s and 1980s, Phelps produced a driving event for the Newport Preservation Society. He was also one of the original organizers of the first World Cup Final in the U.S., in Baltimore in 1980.

In the early 1990s at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, Phelps created innovative classes including the first equitation class for previous winners of the Maclay Equitation Championship and Medal Finals; an equitation class for past U.S. Olympic, Pan American Games, and Nations Cup athletes; and the first hunter classic for the American Hunter Jumper Foundation, held in the International Arena. Phelps was Director of Equestrian Operations at Palm Beach Polo in 1993. He served several years as President of the National Horse Show, reestablishing its prominence at its new home in Lexington, Kentucky following its stint at Madison Square Garden. In 2012, he also organized the World Dressage Masters Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida.

Phelps was Chairman of American Horse Show Association’s (now USEF) Zone I for eight years and served on the boards of the AHSA, USET and Show Jumping Hall of Fame. He also served as President of the New England Horseman’s Council and Rhode Island Horseman’s Association. As an AHSA judge, he judged many horse shows including the AHSA Medal Finals at Harrisburg.

A pioneer and natural leader, Phelps has been instrumental in numerous charity and fundraising events, starting with the famed Newport Roundup in the 1980s. He was one of the founders of the Equestrian Aid Foundation (EAF) in 1996 and in 1998, he produced the first Denim and Diamonds, a benefit gala for the USET Foundation that he produced again in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2004, raising millions of dollars that supported the USET.

In 2001, Phelps founded Phelps Media Group which has grown to represent many of the most prestigious equestrian events, organizations, companies, athletes, and businesses. By 2011 he was named to the Wellington Chamber of Commerce President’s Circle for building “America’s most progressive and successful equestrian public relations firm.”

Please direct all inquiries to Phelps Media Group at info@phelpsmediagroup.com and (561) 793-3389.

Stay connected with Phelps Media Group.

Santiago Lambre Wins $137k Palm Beach County Sports Commission Grand Prix CSI3* on Easy Girl

Santiago Lambre (MEX) and Easy Girl © Sportfot.

Wellington, FL – April 25, 2021 – On the final day of Spring III on the grass Derby Field at Equestrian Village, Santiago Lambre (MEX) flew to a first-place finish aboard Mario Onate’s Easy Girl in the $137,000 Palm Beach County Sports Commission Grand Prix CSI3*.

Olympic course designer Guilherme Jorge (BRA) set the track for the feature class as 42 horse-and-rider combinations entered the opening round. That number was narrowed down to just 13 that qualified to return to jump over a shortened course.

In the subsequent round, Colombia’s Roberto Teran Tafur was the first to put forth a clear effort as he guided his own Dez Ooktoff, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion by Colandro x Lys Rouge, across the track swiftly to take over the lead in 42.69 seconds. The first to catch him was Ireland’s Paul O’Shea aboard Squirt Gun, owned by Eye Candy Jumpers, shaving nearly four seconds off the leading time. He and the 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Diarado x Quick Star stopped the clock in a clear time of 38.70 seconds.

Returning eleventh in the order, Margie Engle (USA) and Dicas, owned by Storm Ridge Capital, LLC, Show Horses, and Garber and Gladewinds Partners, LLC, came close to the top with a clear effort of their own. The Olympic veteran guided the 12-year-old Rheinlander gelding by Diarado x Cassini I, across the track in 39.31 seconds. Last to go, Lambre and the 10-year-old Oldenburg mare by Conthargos x Nintender did it best, stopping the clock fault-free in 38.02 seconds to claim the victory.

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

Nassar Is Superb, Picking Up Second Win of the Week in $37k Nutrena 1.50m Classic CSI3*

Nayel Nassar (EGY) and Igor Van De Wittemoere © Sportfot.

Wellington, FL – April 24, 2021 – A successful week continued for Egypt’s Nayel Nassar, who claimed his second victory in three days on Saturday, riding Evergate Stables, LLC’s Igor Van De Wittemoere to top honors in the $37,000 Nutrena 1.50m Classic CSI3* on the grass Derby Field at Equestrian Village.

An impressive field of 38 top competitors set out over the 1.50m track set by Olympic course designer Guilherme Jorge (BRA) with a dozen combinations jumping clear to punch their tickets to the jump-off. In the subsequent round, Nassar kicked it into high gear aboard the 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding by Cooper VD Heffinck x Orlando 96, flying across the course for a double-clear effort in 39.21 seconds.

“He’s so quick across the ground and it was a great jump-off for that,” said Nassar of the talented gelding. “It really only had one rollback to slow you down. For a little horse, he covers so much ground, so I was able to leave the strides out. I just got on a roll and stay like that the whole way through. He felt unbelievable.”

In the final class of the day, 94 horse-and-rider combinations contested the $5,000 Omega Alpha Equine 1.35m Classic with prizes awarded in Section A and Section B.

Darragh Kenny (IRL) took home the title in Section A aboard the Heathman Farm, LLC entry Carla. The pair put forth a clear first-round effort and matched that in the jump-off with the fastest time of the day, crossing the finish line in 36.80 seconds. Andrew Welles (USA) and Primo Troy, owned by Itasca Group, LLC, jumped into second position with a double-clear score in 36.97 seconds. James Chawke made it two on the podium for Ireland as he guided his own Gamble to a third-place finish in a time of 38.86 seconds.

In Section B, it was a win for Alison Robitaille (USA) aboard Ginger Pop, owned by Bertram Firestone. The dynamic duo raced around the jump-off track, leaving all the jumps in their cups in a time of 37.55 seconds. Isabel Roth (USA) and Vive The Quine, owned by Two Socks Farm, LLC, flew to a double-clear finish in a time of 44.15 seconds to take home second place. Peter Leone (USA), who was victorious in the $6,000 Bainbridge Companies 1.40m Jumpers on Thursday, finished the day in third place with Cedric 84, owned by Maarten Huygens. The pair completed the jump-off with just four faults in a time of 38.98 in the jump-off.

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

Ballard Blasts Off, Scoring Victory in $37,000 Equine Tack and Nutritionals Qualifier CSI3*

Erynn Ballard (CAN) and Jack Van’t Kattenheye © Sportfot.

Wellington, FL – April 23, 2021 – Kicking off another beautiful day of the ESP Spring Series, Erynn Ballard (CAN) and Jack Van’t Kattenheye, owned by Lindemann Barnett Sporthorses, flew to the top of the leaderboard to claim victory in the $37,000 Equine Tack and Nutritionals Qualifier CSI3* on the grass Derby Field at Equestrian Village.

A field of 55 entries contested the two-phase track set by Olympic course designer Guilherme Jorge (BRA). A total of 13 horse-and-rider combinations from the starting field qualified for the jump-off, with eight pairs electing to give it a shot. Ballard and the 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding by Diabeau x Canadian River posted the fastest time of the day, finishing on a double-clear jumping score in 34.39 seconds.

“Jack is quite new for me,” said Ballard of her winning mount. “It’s only our fourth week showing together. So far it has been very straightforward. He is just a reliable guy; he knows the game, he does what he’s supposed to do when he’s out there, and he tries his best to give us a good effort every time. Darragh [Kenny] is hard to beat so we just ran from start to finish and it ended up in our favor, so that was pretty cool. It’s a privilege to be able to ride in these classes.”

Wrapping up an exciting Friday afternoon on the grass Derby Field, a pair of winners were crowned in Section A and Section B of the $10,000 Bainbridge Companies 1.40m Open Stake.

Sam Walker (CAN) rode Evita, owned by Marbill Hill Farm, to a victory in Section A. The 19-year-old rider completed a fault-free jump-off round in an impressive time of 38.55 seconds. Paul O’Shea (IRL) finished in the runner-up spot with his own Primo Havall, leaving the jumps in their cups in a jump-off time of 38.96 seconds. Rounding out the podium to cap off a fantastic day, Walker rode his second mount Coralissa, owned by Marbill Hill Farm, to a double clear effort in 39.76 seconds.

Enrique Gonzalez (MEX) and Filemon, owned by E2 Stables, captured the blue ribbon in Section B, finishing with a double-clear effort in 40.25 seconds. Cormac Hanley (IRL) and RMF Chacco Top, owned by Rushy Marsh Farm, LLC, finished in second, stopping the clock in a fault-free 41.36 seconds. Anna Dryden (USA) finished third aboard Carioca K, owned by Double Meadows Farm, LLC, with a clear jump-off round in a time of 42.06 seconds.

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

Nassar Notches a Win with Oaks Redwood in $37k Perfect Products 1.45m Jumpers CSI3*

Nayel Nassar (EGY) © Sportfot.

Wellington, FL – April 22, 2021 – The third week of the 2021 ESP Spring Series opened with a brilliant victory for Nayel Nassar (EGY) and Oaks Redwood, owned by Evergate Stables, LLC, as they flew to the top of the podium with a speedy clear round in the $37,000 Perfect Products 1.45m Jumpers CSI3*.

Olympic course designer Guilherme Jorge (BRA) set a challenging speed track for a field of 39 horse-and-rider combinations during the opening day of competition on the grass Derby Field. It was Nassar and the 16-year-old gelding by ASB Conquistador x Verdi to answer all the questions in the quickest time, stopping the clock in 60.52 seconds to claim the victory.

In the first class of the day, Peter Leone (USA) and Donner, owned by Lionshare Farm, captured the $6,000 Bainbridge Companies 1.40m Jumpers. Leone and the 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding by Thunder VD Auuthoeve x Heartbreaker put forth a double-clear effort in the two-phase format, crossing the finish line in 29.44 seconds in the speed portion to take the win. Margie Engle (USA) and Cesna M, owned by Virginia Bartholomay, rode to second place in a fault-free time of 29.84 seconds, followed by Eduardo Menezes (BRA) on his own H Big Action in third place with a clear time of 31.88 seconds.

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