World Cups To Be Held Earlier in Year?

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Adelinde Cornelissen of the Netherlands holding aloft the World Cup she won on Jerich Parzival in 2012 for the second straight year. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dresage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

The possibility of holding the World Cup Finals of Dressage and Jumping earlier in the year–March instead of April–is being pushed by some riders and owners seeking to avoid conflicts with the growth of outdoor competitions starting earlier each year.

Efforts are underway to have the International Equestrian Federation move World Cups to the end of March from the current dates of the second half of April for the annual global championships of individual combinations for the two sports, according to preliminary conversations.

The 2013 World Cup Finals of both disciplines are scheduled for Göteborg, Sweden, April 24-28 and in 2014 on April 16-20 at Lyon, France.

Informal discussions have been led by the jumping community and during the World Cup Finals of dressage and jumping at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, reliable sources reported that if there is strong support for a change in the jumping calendar, the FEI Dressage Committee would consider going along with a date move.

If the FEI Bureau that controls the events gives its approval, the first year it could become effective would be for 2014 at Lyon or 2015 which have not yet been awarded. Las Vegas, Nevada, Wellington, Florida, and Guadalajara, Mexico, are possible bidders for 2015 for both disciplines.

One of the main factors in the discussions for a change in dates has been the growth of the Global Champions Tour which began this year’s circuit in Doha, Qatar, April 5-7, two weeks before the World Cup Final.

The impact of a change in dates would not only affect the Finals but the schedule and number of qualifying competitions. The last of the jumping qualifiers in the Western European League were in February, but North American League East qualifiers in Fiorida ran into March.

For dressage the number of World Cup qualifiers in the Western European League has been reduced to eight for the 2012/2013 season, from the 10 that were staged in the 2011/2012 season.

Of the four dressage geographic leagues, the Pacific and Central European League typically wrap up their qualifying calendars months ahead of the Finals.

However, the last dressage qualifier in the Western European League this year was Feb. 23-26 in Göteborg. Next year, the last qualifier will be Mar. 14-17, more than a month before the Final in Göteborg .

The 2012/2013 calendar for the North American League has not yet been finalized. But this year, qualifiers were held as late as Mar. 8-11 in both Del Mar, California, and West Palm Beach, Florida.

In the increasingly mobile top level dressage, the growth of outdoor winter/spring cicuits in the Northern Hemisphere–such as the Sunshine Tour in Spain, Vidauban, France and Palm Beach in Florida–have also raised questions over different rules between the four World Cup leagues.

Western and Central European Leagues determine rankings by points awarded at qualifying competitions, the North American League of Canada and the United States by averaging scores and the Pacific League at a head-to-head league final.

Riders in the WEL who compete at World Cup qualifiers in the North American League, for example, can accumulate full points from one competition, half points from a second competition and none thereafter if competing in North America. Five of the eight WEL qualifiers for the 2013 Final will be held in 2012, but the Florida circuit starting in January, 2013, could include another five World Cup qualifiers in North America.

Points or scores acquired in a league other than the one the rider is in do not count after their own league concludes so that if, for example, a European rider in the Western European League decides to compete in North America results at those competitions do not count once the WEL concludes.

However, riders from nations outside a league can compete in a different league–Catherine Haddad-Staller of the United States who is based in Vechta, Germany, has competed for several years as a member of the WEL and has, when she is in the United States, accumulated points in the North American League, as provided for in the rules.

Unrelated to the competition schedule, the 2012 Final included only three of the top 10 ranked dressage combinations in the world–defending champion Adelinde Cornelissen and Jerich Parzival of The Netherlands (No. 1) and German partnerships Isabell Werth and El Santo NRW (No. 9) and Helen Langehanenberg and Damon Hill NRW (No. 10).

For jumping in which the rankings are solely for riders, 14 of the top 20 were in the Final, though the winner, Rich Fellers of the United States, is ranked 33rd in the world.