MARIBEL ALONSO APPEALS TO PAN AM NATIONS TO COMPETE AT FLORIDA NATIONS CUP TEST

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Maribel Alonso de Quinzaños. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By. KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Maribel Alonso de Quinzaños has appealed to countries throughout the Americas to take part in the 2013 Nations Cup at Florida’s Global Dressage Festival that will test a format of teams of mixed small and big tour combinations for the first time in the history of the sport as a step to maintaining the Pan American Game as the qualifying championship for the Olympics.

Maribel along with Thomas Baur of Germany, a member of the International Equestrian Federation’s (FEI) Dressage Committee, has been spearheading efforts to get agreement of the 30 nations involved in equestrian sports in the Americas. The Pan Ams are held once every four years and have been an Olympic qualifier at small tour.

“We will keep consulting with all the nations,” Maribel said in an interview with dressage-news.com at the Dressage at Devon World Cup event in Pennsylvania. In addition to being a 5* judge, the highest level, she is deputy chair of the FEI’s Group 5 of nations that includes her native Mexico “We want as many teams as possible to participate in Wellington, to try out the format and then give us feedback.

‘Nothing is decided. So if the Dressage Committee and the General Assemby approve, we will have this test event that is unprecedented in our sport. This is just the first step.

“Then, everyone can give us their feedback, their thoughts and suggestions. Maybe they will like it, maybe not. Maybe they will like some parts and not others. The way to find out is to take part and see how it is.

“This is not a Thomas or Maribel thing. We hope to learn the will of the whole continent. That would be the best thing.”

The draft proposal for the Wellington test will be considered by the FEI Dressage Committee and then sent to the FEI General Assembly for review and vote at its meeting in Istanbul in early November.

If approved, the new format will be tested at the CDIO3* Nations Cup at the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida April 11-14, the second year for the only non-championship dressage Nations Cup outside Europe. Eight teams, some of them made up of combinations from different nations and incuding Europe and Australia, took part in the inaugural 2012 event.

The goal is to find a format to be used at the 2015 Pan Ams in Toronto that will also be a qualifying event for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The proposal also seeks to enable riders to accumulate qualifying scores at CDI1* events to make it easier for countries to stage dressage shows in areas where they are not typically held. Only Brazil, Canada and the United States staged FEI-sanctioned dressage events in the Americas in 2012.

Equestrian Sport Productions that organizes the Global Dressage Festival has pledged $35,000 in prize money to help attract teams for the Nations Cup.

The first Pan Am Games were staged in Buenos Aires in 1951 with 2,513 participants representing 14 nations that have since grown to more than 5,600 competitors from 42 countries held once every four years, making it the largest multi sports discipline event in the world after the Olympics themseleves.

Although one of the qualifying championships for the Olympics, Pan Am dressage has been at small tour–Prix St. Georges, Intermediaire I and Intermediaire Freestyle–primarily because of a lack of Grand Prix horses outside North America making it almost impossible to field teams at the highest level. A major effort to make Grand Prix the qualifying level was launched  in 2012 with the FEI Dressage Committee approving the Nations Cup in Wellington at small tour with a tentative shedule to raise the level to Grand Prix in stages.

The idea faced its first real world test when Colombia finished third behind the United States and Canada at the 2011 Pan Ams in Guadalajara, Mexico, thus qualifying a team for the London Olympics.

However, no Colombian combination attained the minimum Grand Prix results for the Olympics despite undertaking a circuit of several European competitions the first half of 2012.

The proposal calls for Prix St. Georges, Intermediaire I and Intermediaire Freestyle for small tour and Intermediaire II, Under-25 Grand Prix and the standard senior Grand Prix for big tour.

Big tour combinations would receive additional scores–an extra one percent for the Intermediaire II, two per cent for the Under-25 Grand Prix and four percent for the Grand Prix.