Wellington Nations Cup Designed to Test Pan American Games Format Opened to All Nations
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
The Nations Cup designed to test an upgraded Pan American Games format will be open to teams from around the world and not restricted to countries that can compete in the Pan Ams, and the International Equestrian Federation will award a special prize to the top finishing rider or team from Central and South America.
Approval by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) of a final format means that nations other than the 29 countries throughout the Americas will be invited to compete in only the second non-championship Nations Cup in the Western Hemisphere in Wellington, Florida April 11-14.
The CDIO3* Nations Cup at the Global Dressage Festival will thus be allowed allow teams of mixed small tour and big tour combinations for the first time as a step to raising the the level of the Pan American Games ahead of the next quadrennial event, scheduled for Toronto in 2015 as part of the largest multi-sport championship after the Olympics. As many as 40 big and small tour combinations will be accepted for the Wellington event.
“We are really delighted and pleased that there has been such cooperation between us as the organizers, the U.S. Equestrian Federation and the FEI,” said Michael Stone, president of the Equestrian Sport Productions that manages the event.
The Pan Ams are a qualifying event for the Olympic Games that next will be held in South America for the first time, in Rio de Janiero in 2016. Until now, the Pan Ams have been held at Prix St. Georges/Intermediate level while the Olympic Games a year later are at Grand Prix.
Maribel Alonso de Quinzaños of Mexico, a FEI 5* judge and active in governing the sport, and Thomas Baur of Germany, a member of the FEI Dressage Committee and organizer of several major European events, have led development of the new Pan Am format and the Nations Cups at Wellington.
Along with members of the FEI Dressage Committee and the FEI Dressage Department, they have juggled the issues that the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, had a record 12 teams for the small tour competition. Colombia qualified through those Pan Ams to win a place in the starting lineup at the Olympics but no combinations were able to achieve the required individual qualifying scores at Grand Prix and was not represented in London.
Under the format approved by the FEI the United States would be restricted to one team instead of two. Both the U.S. and Canada have large numbers of top riders and hores in Florida for the winter circuit and can enter Olympic-level teams.
Colombia, Puerto Rico and Venezuela have sought to create squads made up entirely of combinations from the same country while there are likely to be other teams made up of different nationalities.
Other possible teams include Australia, Denmark and maybe other European countries, either made up of combinations entirely from their own nations or mixed nationalities.
The Nations Cup event is considered key not only as a step to elevating the Pan Ams to the same level as the European Championships but to provide support to efforts to increase the total number of dressage combinations at future Olympics. Dressage is a stepchild at the Oympics with an allocation of 50 starting combinations compared wth 75 each for eventing and jumping.
The FEI has made it clear that 2013 is a test event and the final Pan Am format may change based on experience and input from competitors and national federations.
The 2012 Nations Cup in Wellington was made up of teams from Australia, Canada and two from the United States as well as mixed teams from Latin America and Europe.
The FEI initially proposed limiting the second edition of the Nations Cup to teams directly involved in the Pan Ams with combinations from other regions making up vacancies on teams that could not field a minimum of three riders and horses. Teams have up to four combinations with three top scoring rides counting toward the team total.
However, riders from Australia and some European nations which competed in the inaugural Nations Cup in 2012 sought to be included in the event, which won widespread praise for organization, team spirit and fun for participansts.
As part of the effort to make the event as successful as possible, the FEI said it decided the event “should be as open as possible.”
Support should be provided for nations from the Americas, mainly Central and South America, “as much as we can to take part in the test event and share this experience for further development.”
Thus, the CDIO will be open to national teams from outside the Americas as long as the total number of horses does not exceed 40 in the Grand Prix and the Prix St. Georges.
The issues of combined teams from different regions outside the Americas will be decided after nominations and final entries are received by the organizer.
The FEI will also create a special prize for the best rider and/or the best team from Central and South America–a Baccarat Crystal Horse Head.