Germany Defends Withdrawing Team from Wellington Nations Cup, Cites “Mainly” Riders Unknown to Coach

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Michael Klimke competing in Florida. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Michael Klimke competing in Florida. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Mar. 21, 2016

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

The German Equestrian Federation defended its decision to withdraw a team from the CDIO3* Nations Cup in Wellington because the squad would have been Small Tour only and “mainly” riders unknown to national coach Monica Theodorescu personally.

Three of the four riders competed on Small Tour horses on German Nations Cup teams in Wellington in the previous two competitions. The team competition was launched at the Global Dressage Festival in 2012 as the only non-championship Nations Cup in the Western Hemisphere.

Soenke Lauterbach, Secretary General and CEO of the German Federation, issued a statement to dressage-news.com saying:

“Last week some riders, whom we have had in mind to be team members, were no longer available to compete in the CDIO. This resulted in a situation that our team would have been composed of small tour riders only. Among them mainly riders, who are unknown to our national coach Monica Theodorescu personally.

“While a Nations Cup is of course a great opportunity to support and strengthen the sport development–especially in that region with only few possibilities–it also places a certain responsibility on the National Federation sending a team.

“Firstly, we do not want to send riders, with whom we are not sure that they are really up to representing us. I am not saying that this was the case with those riders, but when you don’t know them, you simply can’t tell.

“Secondly we felt that a German team should definitely be composed of Grand Prix riders, at least partly. Some may call this arrogant. Looking at the overall nomination criteria of our NF I consider it a technical decision out of principles. And this should be respected by others.

“I assure that this was not a decision that was taken without putting thought in it. Neither was it in any way a judgement of the CDIO itself. And it had nothing to do with fears that the German team might not win. An athlete or team entering a competition always needs to be ready to accept not to win.”

Neve Myburgh on Bellissma in Wellington. © 2016 SusanJStickle.com
Neve Myburgh on Bellissma in Wellington. © 2016 SusanJStickle.com

The decision by Germany to enter a team for the Nations Cup then withdraw after the lineup of riders became known led to sharp criticism from United States coach Robert Dover and America’s top ranked rider Steffen Peters.

The riders were to be Michael Klimke, Neve Myburgh, Kevin Kohmann and Sarah Stanuschewski.

Michael Klimke and Neve Myburgh both rode Small Tour horses on the German team with a single Grand Prix combination in Wellington in 2015 that earned the country seven points toward its total to win the series by four points over the Netherlands.  Both riders have competed successfully on this year’s winter circuit.

Kevin Kohmann was one of two Small Tour pairs on the German Nations Cup team with a single Grand Prix combination in Wellington in 2014. He also rode on a team made of riders of different nations in the inaugural Nations Cup and the second year at Global. Neve Myburgh also competed the first year.

Sarah Stanuschewski, 21 years old, has competed at CDI Small Tour throughout the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington this year in their international debut.

All the German riders and horses are in Wellington–Neve Myburgh and Kevin Kohmann live fulltime in the United States–so no costs would have been incurred by the federation. Michael Klimke had already been named chef d’equipe.

The FEI first included the Wellington CDIO3* among the six countries in the second of three years of testing the Nations Cup format.

Wellington staged its first Nations Cup in 2012, the inaugural year of the Global circuit. Three German riders competed–two on a four-member “Europe” team and the third on an “Intercontinental” squad.

Australia, Canada and the United States have fielded teams every year of the event.

The Nations Cup at the Adequan Globa Dressage Festival is unique in that it allows a mix of Big Tour and Small Tour combinations so as to include as many countries as possible, especially those with a few or no Grand Prix horses such as in Central and South America. The Wellington competition has won widespread praise for raising the level of the Pan American Games with the mixed format. It includes full Big Tour teams this year for the first time.

The other six Nations Cup events in the series for this year are: CDIO3* Odense, Denmark May 12-15; CDIO5* Compiègne, France May 19-22; CDIO5* Rotterdam, Netherlands June 22-26; CDIO5* Falsterbo, Sweden July 7-10; CDIO5* Aachen, Germany July 13-17 and CDIO3* Hickstead, England July 28-31.