Judge Ghislain Fouarge Says Assistance to Russian Riders “Not Training”

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Inessa Merkulova on Mister X who appears to be receiving instructions from Ghislain Fouarge of the Netherlands in a photo dated Oct. 22-24, 2015 on the Internet site of New Century stables, the facility owned by Inessa and her husband.
Inessa Merkulova on Mister X who appears to be receiving instructions from Ghislain Fouarge of the Netherlands in a photo dated Oct. 22-24, 2015 on the Internet site of New Century stables, the facility owned by Inessa and her husband.

Mar. 2, 2016

FEI, International Equestrian Federation, five-star judge Ghislain Fouarge defended his judging of Inessa Merkulova on Mister X in a Moscow competition saying that assistance to help Russian riders improve their scores was not training.

The Dutch judge noted that his score of Inessa and Mister X of 82 per cent in the Grand Prix was in the middle of the range of the five-member ground jury.

He told the German equestrian magazine St. Georg that he had discussed the issue with the FEI Dressage Committee that met in Jerez de la Fronera, Spain Monday and Tuesday.

He told St. Georg: “As regards the assessment of the rider, I have to say I was exactly in the average. If I had been the only one who the couple had so high, then I would have understood the excitement yes. But I was right in the middle. ”

Of the photo dated in October, 2015 showing him with Merkulova he explained: “It is true I was in Russia. But I gave no proper training. There were 18 riders since the task ride and I told them what they need to improve in the task to get more points. ”

Although St. Georg said this was not proper training in the judge’s eyes, he had agreed to step aside as a member of the ground jury at the World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden later this month.

“I wanted to avoid complications,” he was quoted.

The former Judge General, the FEI chief judge, said of the complaints: “It’s character assassination, what happened there! It was awful! Inessa Merkulova rode great in Moscow. My horse was in contrast to previous rides, in which they already received high 70-percentage points was no longer so tight in the neck and everything is evaluated in the Grand Prix twice, worked out great: piaffe, pirouettes–that was not a ‘pretty good’ examination, but a ‘good’ test, this is an 80 per cent.”

Ghislain Fouarge as the judge at C gave the couple 82.60 percent. Russian judge Olga Soboleva awarded 85.70 percent while German Peter Engel gave 78.90 per cent, Natalia Rubashko of Belarus at 82.20 percent and Irina Maknami of Russia 81.80 percent.

An earlier version reported that Ghislain Fouarge had withdrawn from the ground jury for the World Cup Final in Sweden. That was incorrect as he was not on the ground jury for the World Cup Final.