Children, Junior & Young Riders from Ecuador Blocked by FEI from Competing in Florida Jumping Nations Cups
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
Nine Ecuadoran riders aged from 15 to 21 and their horses on the way to Florida to compete in an historic staging of four Nations Cups at the same time were blocked from participating by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) because of a dispute involving alleged interference by the Ecuadoran government in the country’s sports programs.
The nine riders were among 47 being flown from several Latin American nations on a flight chartered by Hollow Creek Farm of Aiken, South Carolina, and owned by Alejandro Andrade of Venezuela. Hollow Creek is funding the entire series for Children, Junior and Young Riders.
They were to compete in the Nations Cups that, apparently for the first time in history, will be staged simultaneously for children, juniors, young riders and seniors to be held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, Florida the last week of February.
Riders from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Venezuela as well as Canada and the United States were to participate.
However, the riders were on their way to the airport in Quito, Euador with their horses when they were informed that the FEI had joined “a large number of international federations” in preventing Ecuadoran athletes in all sports from participating in official sanctioned events because of a dispute with the Ecuadoran government.
A Hollow Creek Farm spokesman said they were disappointed that the youngsters were caught in the dispute and were trying to arrange another charter flight to bring the Ecuadoran horse and rider combinations to Florida to share in the Nations Cup experience and possibly compete in an unanctioned event.
FEI Secretary General Ingmar De Vos said in response to questions from dressage-news.com:
“A large number of International Federations, including the FEI, have taken action against the Ecuadoran national federations following interference in sports governance issues by the Sports Minister. Unfortunately, this affects the participation of athletes at competitions, but it is the responsibility of all International Federations to check that the National Federations are governed in line with the Olympic Charter, remaining independent and free of government interference.
“We totally adhere to the IOC principles in terms of policy safeguarding the autonomy of sport globally and we are following the IOC’s recommendations and actions in this regard.
“The ECU NF (Ecuador National Federation) was informed last month that they could not register athletes or horses, or enter them for international events, but sent the athletes to Wellington knowing that they would not be able to compete.
“The FEI is currently investigating the situation in Ecuador and a report is being prepared for the Executive Board in the hope that this issue can be resolved as speedily as possible.”
Hollow Creek Farm and Equestrian Sport Productons, organizers of the Wellington events, are footing the bill for the events with no funds from any government or national federation.
The ban on Ecuadoran equestrian pariticpation applies to all disciplines governed by the FEI, based in Lausanne, Switzerland–dressage, driving, endurance, eventing, jumping, reining and vaulting as well as para-equestrian. Although the Nations Cups in the current case are for jumping, a dressage Nations Cup formatted specially for Pan American Games nations is scheduled for Wellington in mid-April. It is not known whether any Ecuadoran combinations would seek to take part.
Only one Nations Cup is assigned to a country each year, and the Wellington jumping event has become one of the most popular in the world with teams from throughout the Americas, Europe and Australia. Ten nations participated in 2012. Germany won.
Two Nations Cups are held each year in the entire Americas, one in Wellington in winter and a second at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Canada, in the Fall.
Equestrian Sport Productions organizes the Winter Equestrian Festival of 12 weeks of jumping and the companion Gobal Dressage Festival with five CDIs including a dressage Nations Cup at the Palm Beach center in Wellington.
It has become the main hub of equestrian sports for the Americas as well as a winter destinaton for Europeans.
One of the top sponsors of WEF and other equestrian events in the United States in recent years is G & C, owned by Gustavo and Carolina Mirabal, who are from Venezuela but are based in Wellington.