Tag Archives: FEI World Cup

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

Dalera Storms to Victory for von Bredow-Werndl in Salzburg

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and TSF Dalera BB (FEI/Lukasz Kowalski)

Defending champions Werth and Weihegold have to settle for second as Germans scoop top four placings

It has been a long wait since the first leg was staged last October, but the resumption of the 2020/2021 FEI Dressage World Cup™ Western European League didn’t disappoint when Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and TSF Dalera BB swept to victory in Salzburg, Austria.

In a cracker of a competition, the pair who helped claimed team gold at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games™ threw down a superb performance when second-last to go in the field of 13. And their score of 87.960 ousted the partnership that have claimed the coveted FEI Dressage World Cup™ title on the last three occasions, Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD, who had to settle for runner-up spot on their mark of 84.720.

Reminding the world that German dressage is in great shape, Helen Langehanenberg slotted into third with Annabelle when putting 81.340 on the board, while Dorothee Schneider filled fourth place with Faustus when posting 80.650. Only one other horse-and-rider combination managed to break the 80 percent barrier, Swedish star Patrick Kittel steering Delaunay OLD into fifth on a mark of 80.125.

Halfway stage

It was another Swedish pair who held the lead at the halfway stage, Antonia Ramel and Brother de Jeu, who were on the bronze medal winning side along with Kittel and Well Done de la Roche at the 2019 FEI European Championships in Rotterdam (NED).

Ramel produced a lovely test from the 15-year-old gelding to score 77.460 but, third to go after the break, Werth moved things on to a completely different level when scoring more than seven percent higher. And when both compatriot Langehanenberg and then Kittel couldn’t get close to bettering that, it seemed the writing was already on the wall.

But von Bredow-Werndl had other ideas.

“I was really ready for it today because Dalera already felt amazing yesterday,” she pointed out. In Saturday’s Grand Prix she finished second to Werth, but that didn’t blunt her ambitions.

“I came in today with the hope to win! We had a very stupid mistake yesterday when she fell into trot before the one-tempis because she thought it was already the last line for the extended trot, and that was more than expensive because the one-tempis count double. Today I knew if we got things right then we had a really good chance!”

And they got it absolutely right, the 34-year-old rider and her 14-year-old mare nailing it with a superb test that secured pole position by more than three percentage points over Werth who may not have been all that surprised, as she clearly wasn’t happy with her own performance, shaking her head as she left the arena.

This winning partnership had already beaten Werth and Weihegold twice before – at the FEI Dressage World Cup™ qualifier in Stuttgart (GER) in 2019 and at last year’s German Championships. Werth knew perfectly well that she needed a mistake-free test to keep the pressure on her fellow-countrywoman who is always a strong challenger, so when she didn’t get that she was always going to be vulnerable.

Season

Instead of a full season of qualifiers, the Western European League has been severely curtailed by the effects of the pandemic, and this leg at Salzburg was only the second in the lead-up to the 2021 Final which is scheduled for Gothenburg (SWE) from 31 March to 4 April. In this virus-ridden era it is difficult to predict anything anymore, but another qualifier is planned for ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED) in March and under the revised qualifying criteria the best two results from the Western European and Central European Leagues will count towards qualification.

Von Bredow-Werndl is at the top of the qualification table with Langehanenberg in second, Kittel in third, Morgan Barbancon from France in fourth, and The Netherlands’ Thamar Zweistra and Ireland’s Anna Merveldt sharing fifth place.  Austria’s Christian Schumach lies seventh while Denmark’s Carina Cassoe Kruth, who collected eight points when finishing tenth with Heiline’s Danciera, is in eighth place. A total of nine athletes will make the cut to the Final and Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour, who won the opening leg on home ground at Aarhus last October, at this stage shares that ninth spot with Germany’s Benjamin Werndl.

Environment

As von Bredow-Werndl pointed out, it’s not an easy environment for either horses or riders these days.

“Dalera was a bit nervous yesterday but I have to admit I was too! I realise now that it is too long for me to have a competition break for over three months – I really need to compete and so do the horses. Riding the test at home and going to a competition are two completely different things.

“You need to measure yourself against the other competitors, and it’s a more honest way to look in the mirror if you do it at a competition.” — Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (GER)

She complimented Show Director Josef Goellner and his team for staging the Austrian event in such difficult times. The show is taking place without spectators and with rigorous restrictions. “I’m so grateful that the organisers managed to do such a great job and that it was perfectly organised. Everyone feels safe here, everyone is wearing a mask and there is hand sanitiser everywhere – it’s strange, but I’m so glad to be here!” she said.

She would like to compete in ’s-Hertogenbosch, but brotherly love may get in the way of that. “I want my brother (Benjamin Werndl) to have a chance to go there because he already won one qualifier (at Zakrzow, Poland in October) and he needs to go to another one, and there are usually only four Germans allowed to ride,” she explained.

When it comes to the Final in Gothenburg, however, nothing will hold her back. “Oh yes, I’ll be going there for sure – and with all guns blazing!” she said.

Result here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Another Dream Double for Dufour at First Leg in Denmark

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

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

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

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

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

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

Same top three

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

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

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

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

Consummate ease

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

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

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

Achieved so much

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

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

Results here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Dufour Leads Danish Defence at Opener in Aarhus

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

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

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

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

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

Five nations

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

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

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

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

Newly-crowned champion

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

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

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

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

Check out the Western European League here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

FEI.TV Available Free of Charge while Live Sport Is on Hold

Swedish Dressage athlete Patrik Kittel tries out the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ trophy for size, whilst compatriot, former European Champion Peder Fredricson, takes hold of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ trophy. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

FEI.TV, the FEI’s online television platform, will be providing all its coverage of past events and special equestrian features free of charge to everyone while live sport is on hold until end of June.

Under normal circumstances, FEI.TV live-streams all major FEI Series and Championships, with an extensive range of replays, special features, and historic events coverage available on-demand combining to provide unparalleled coverage of equestrian sport year-round.

But with no live sport, access to FEI.TV will be free and existing subscribers will be compensated for the months of April, May, and June. They will get automatically refunded on their accounts. All content on the platform, including VOD, will be freely available to all users who will need to register, meaning that fans can re-live all the action from past events so there’s no need to miss out on your fix of equestrian sport.

“Premium content like this usually sits behind a paywall and is normally available only to subscribers, but while there is no ‘live’ sport, we want to give equestrian fans the chance to binge-watch for free during this terrible pandemic,” FEI Commercial Director Ralph Straus says.

This week’s Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ and FEI Dressage World Cup™ Finals in Las Vegas were one of the early high-profile victims of the Covid-19 outbreak when they were cancelled in mid-March. But Jumping and Dressage fans now have the opportunity to relive some of the very best moments of the FEI World Cup™ Finals from the past five years – 2015 to 2019 – live and free on FEI.TV, FEI Jumping and Dressage Facebook pages, and FEI YouTube channel daily. And if you can’t watch it live, catch it on replay on FEI.TV.

For fans of the other equestrian disciplines, FEI.TV has lots more unique content, ranging from FEI Vaulting and Driving World Cup™ highlights to wrap-ups of the FEI Eventing and Dressage Nations Cup™ series.

An additional broadcast offering has been made available by the FEI, equestrian sport’s global governing body, providing free access to video archive footage to TV broadcasters in EBU member territories across Europe through its partnership with EBU, and to key territories in the rest of the world via its partnership with IMG.

“Our broadcast partners are struggling to fill their air-time without live sport, so this initiative has been put in place to ensure that they have access to top equestrian footage and, together, we can keep our fans around the world happy with their daily dose of equestrian content,” Straus says.

Media contacts:

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

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

FEI World Cup Finals 2020 in Las Vegas Cancelled Due to Coronavirus

Lausanne (SUI), 13 March 2020 – The International Equestrian Federation (FEI), United States Equestrian (USEF), and Las Vegas Events have announced the force majeure cancellation of the FEI World Cup™ Finals 2020 in Las Vegas. The annual equestrian competition, featuring the Olympic disciplines of Jumping and Dressage, was scheduled for 15-19 April at the Thomas & Mack Center.

“It is very regrettable that next month’s FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas have had to be cancelled, but the decision was out of our hands,” FEI President Ingmar De Vos said.

“Since the FEI World Cup series began in 1978 for Jumping and in 1985 for Dressage, the Finals have never had to be cancelled before, but the global concerns about the spread of the virus and the travel restrictions imposed by the US Government have meant that the Finals are one of many major sporting events impacted by this outbreak.

“Like everyone in our community, we are disappointed, not only for the athletes who have qualified for the Finals, but also for Las Vegas Events and US Equestrian, and of course our top partner Longines, but the health, well-being, and safety of our athletes, officials, and our fans has to be our top priority. We hope we can alleviate that disappointment by returning to Las Vegas for a wonderful FEI World Cup Finals in the future.”

All ticket buyers and exhibitors will be issued full refunds. The Las Vegas Events ticket office will contact all ticket holders on the process starting the week of 16 March.

Further information on the FEI World Cup™ Finals 2020 in Las Vegas can be found at www.WorldCupLasVegas.com.

Media contacts:

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

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

Verdades to Appear at 2020 FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas

Photo Credit: Shannon Brinkman Photography.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Las Vegas, Nev. – Verdades, one of the most popular and beloved horses in dressage history, will make two public appearances at the 2020 FEI World Cup™ Finals in Las Vegas, April 15-19. “Diddy” will headline the Devoucoux Dressage Showcase on Friday afternoon, April 17, and then have his official retirement ceremony on Saturday evening.

Laura Graves, Verdades’s owner and rider, announced the 18-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding’s retirement in January, leading to an outpouring of love and support from his many followers around the world. That spurred a plan to give his fans a chance to see the legendary superstar at the FEI World Cup™ Final.

“Diddy has so many fans and I wanted to give as many of them as possible a chance to see him before his retirement,” said Graves, who purchased Verdades as a yearling and is the only rider he has ever known. “He has performed on the world’s biggest stages and there really is no bigger stage than the World Cup Finals in Las Vegas, so this is really the perfect place for his formal retirement.”

Graves and Verdades will appear during the Final’s Devoucoux Dressage Showcase on Friday afternoon and again on Saturday evening when his official retirement ceremony will be held during the intermission of the Grand Prix Freestyle, the event determining the 2020 FEI World Cup™ champion.

As part of the special occasion, a drawing will be held to select 16 individuals among those in attendance at the Devoucoux Dressage Showcase to meet the legendary horse later that day. In addition, Graves will appear that afternoon in the Taylor Harris Club presented by Lugano Diamonds to meet guests in the World Cup’s VIP club.

Verdades first caught the world’s attention when he carried Graves to the Reserve Championship in the 2014 The Dutta Corp./USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship and then followed that by finishing fifth in the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games, the top U.S. finish.

To order tickets, or for further information on the 2020 FEI World Cup™ Finals in Las Vegas, please visit the event’s official website at www.WorldCupLasVegas.com.

Coyle Bookends 2019/2020 North American League with Wins in Ocala

Daniel Coyle (IRL) and Farrel. (FEI/Shannon Brinkman)

Daniel Coyle (IRL) finished the 2019/2020 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ North American League the same way he started it — with a victory.

After beginning the season with a win in Vancouver (CAN), Coyle rode Farrel to the top of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Ocala (USA), besting an eight-horse jump-off. The duo crossed the timers of Olaf Petersen, Jr.’s (GER) shortened course in 37.05 seconds. Margie Engle (USA) and Dicas finished second with a 37.37-second time, while Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) and Cristalline finished third in 37.96 seconds.

“I think everything was going really well until the last turn. I had a little slip there, and I thought everything was going great until that point. I thought, ‘Have I lost it?’” Coyle detailed. “When I went through the finish and [saw] that I was able to catch the [leaders] — both of them have fantastic horses and are fantastic riders as well — I was delighted to beat them!”

Last to go and Engle to beat, Coyle executed a very different plan than the then-leader. Engle used Dicas’ massive stride to her advantage, while Coyle relied on Farrel’s swift turning, along with a sheer will to win.

“[Farrel] is a very small horse. He doesn’t have as big a jump as most horses, but he just believes he’s one of the best. Belief always overdoes talent, and he obviously has loads of that as well, but it’s his way, and he can do things that other horses can’t do.” — Daniel Coyle (IRL)

The victory secured Coyle a place in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final, which will take place in Las Vegas (USA), 15-19 April 2020. The appearance would mark Coyle’s first in a championship.

“In the middle of last year, [my team] decided to try and aim for the [Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final]. Until today, it seemed we didn’t have enough points. It’ll be my first World Cup Final, and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Sternlicht finishes the season atop the east coast standings with 61 points, one more than Elizabeth “Beezie” Madden (USA) with 60 points. Brian Moggre (USA) is third in the standings with 56 points.

Karl Cook (USA) sits atop the west coast standings with 59 points. Jenni McAllister (USA), who finished seventh in Ocala, moved into second with 40 points, one ahead of Alex Granato (USA), who has 39 points.

FULL RESULTS

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

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

Look Who’s Qualified to Ride in Las Vegas

The 14th and final leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Western European League took place over the weekend in Gothenburg, Sweden, and now we know who is qualified for the 2020 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup ™ Final in Las Vegas at the Thomas & Mack Center on April 15-19. Continue reading.

Las Vegas Events/FEI World Cup™ Finals Statement about COVID-19

Las Vegas Events, the Local Organizing Committee for the FEI World Cup™ Finals, and the Thomas & Mack Center, along with the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority and our resort partners continue to monitor COVID-19 and communicate with our local health officials. Continue reading.

Stay up to date on all news by joining the World Cup Club. Join now by clicking here.

Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final and FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final
April 15-19, 2020 • Thomas & Mack Center • Las Vegas, Nevada
www.worldcuplasvegas.com

Gulliksen Posts Career-Defining Victory in Gothenburg

Geir Gulliksen riding VDL Groep Quatro. (FEI/Satu Pirinen)

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

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

“I feel fine actually – except for my arse! I wouldn’t change anything that happened today. This crowd – of all the shows in the whole world there is no crowd like this. Even to fall off it doesn’t matter; I couldn’t be happier. This is definitely the highlight of my career!” said the 60-year-old rider afterwards.

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

The contours of the Scandinavium Arena always ensure a strong challenge, and only five of the 32 starters found the key to Peter Lundstrom’s tough 14-fence first-round track. The spectators groaned loudest when their own Henrik von Eckermann (Peter Pan) and Peder Fredricson (H&M Christian K) made it all the way to the very last fence only to pick up a fault there, but their long-time hero Rolf-Goran Bengtsson saved the day when making the cut with the big grey, Cassilano Jmen.

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

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

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

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

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

“He doesn’t have all the scope, but he is so athletic and he believes he’s just as good as any other horse! There was no place on the course today where I thought he would struggle – he just makes it happen. He’s a bit like a pony, and he never stops – he amazes me more and more!” — Geir Gulliksen (NOR)

FULL RESULTS

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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