Wellington Nations Cup Likely to Launch at Small Tour

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Nations Cup teams of Canada, USA and Colombia on the medals podium at the Pan American Games. 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WELLINGTON, Florida, Dec. 20–The first non-championship dressage Nations Cup in the Western Hemisphere is being planned as a small tour event at the newly created Global Dressage show grounds in Wellington as a major step to help the transition to Grand Prix level for Oympic qualifying in the Americas.

The U.S. Equestrian Federation has proposed to the International Equestrian Federation’s Dressage Committee that the inaugural CDIO scheduled for April 11-15 will be Prix St. Georges/Intermediaire, the same level as the Pan American Games held once every four years as a qualifying event for teams for the Olympics the following year, similar to the biennial European Championships.

At small tour for the first year, Equestrian Sport Productions that owns and operates the Global Dressge Festival intends to invite several teams for the $35,000 (€26,700) event. In addition to Canadians and Americans, a large contingent of Latin Americans, Australians and Europeans–many based year round in Palm Beach–are scheduled to compete on the Florida winter circuit of 11 CDIs.

The second year would be a format mixing both small and big tour combinations.

The third year is planned to be at Grand Prix level, a year ahead of the next Pan Am Games in Toronto in 2015.

This progression would help national teams in the Americas fulfill two major requirements ahead of the 2016 Olympics to be held in Rio de Janeiro:

1. Meet Olympic requirements of qualifying at Grand Prix for the 2016 Games, and

2. Keep the Pan Ams as the Olympic dressage team qualifier.

Informal polling of several nations indicated enthusiastic support for the proposal from Latin American and Caribbean nations as well as other countries with significant representation on the Florida circuit , but not enough Grand Prix horses.

Brazil, Canada and the United States are among only a handul of countries that have the depth to field teams at Grand Prix for international competitions.

Colombia, for example, qualified a team for the London Olympics next summer by placing third behind Canada and the U.S. at the Pan Ams in Guadalajara, Mexico, three months ago. However, at the time of the Pan Ams the team had only two horses and two riders with Grand Prix experience and was plannng to lease horses for its 2012 Olympic squad.

The initial proposal for the mixed format as a bridge to the big tour while keeping Olympic dressage qualifying in the Pan Ams came from Colombia during a meeting of national representatives at the Guadalajara Games.

National federations overwhelmingly supported keeping dressage qualifying in the Pan Ams which are the second largest sporting event in the world behind only the Oympics. More than 6,000 athletes from 42 nations competed in 36 sports, including all 28 Olympic sports.

A majority of the FEI Dressage Committee is believed strongly in favor of the proposal that was reportedly proposed by Anne Gribbons, U.S. Technical Advisor and a member of the committee, and Eva Salomon, the USEF managing director for dressage.