Spain’s Matute Family Hope to Make Up Entire Team for Wellington Nations Cup
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Feb. 10–Juan Matute who rode for Spain in three Olympics is coming out of retirement from international competition to attempt to qualify for a rare, possibly unprecedented, team made up solely of the same family members that he hopes will represent Spain in the dressage Nations Cup in Wellington, Florida in April.
Paula and Juan, Jr., his two teenage children who have been successful in junior and young rider competitions in Florida, will be the other two riders on the team that can include Grand Prix and Prix St. Georges combinations in the CDIO3* event April 11-14 designed to test a format for the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.
Maria, Juan’s wife and a member of the Ybarra family, hopes to make it a complete family affair by serving as chef d’equipe, following in the footsteps of her grandmother who was chef for Spain at the Munich Olympics in 1972.
The family moved to Florida for what was to be a time out for one year but after a few years does not look like ending any time soon.
Spain’s family team is another unique feature of the Nations Cup aside from its first-ever mix of small and big horse teams.
The event was created as an undertaking by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), the U.S. Equestrian Federation and Equestrian Sport Productions, organizers of the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington of which the Nations Cup will be the finale of the 2013 winter circuit. The event is sponsored by Stillpoint Farm of Wellington and will be staged at The Stadium, a state of the art dressage complex that is part of Palm Beach International Equestrian Center which hosts the world famous Winter Equestrian Festival and the companion Global Dressage Festival.
The event is in its second year in Wellington as the only non-championship Nations Cup in the Western hemisphere. It is designed to transition dressage at the Pan Ams, the multi-sport championships that are second only to the Olympics in size, to Grand Prix from small tour. The Games, held once every four years, are a qualifying competition for the Olympics the following year.
Along with teams that can compete in the Pan American Games, the Nations Cup competition is open to teams from all nations, including Europe and Australia. While initially it was proposed that team nationalities would be restricted, the competition was opened to teams from any country, as it was in the 2012 event.
“The FEI initially proposed a more restrictive team structure, but when working with all the stakeholders, we reviewed and agreed that last year’s team formation was best for the sport and event. We are delighted at the cooperation between the FEI, the USEF, and ESP that has led to this landmark event that we are certain will be a success,” said Michael Stone, ESP President.
“We are doing our utmost to contribute to the development of dressage throughout the Americas and help countries prepare for the Pan American Games. To that end, we will make the Nations Cup a highlight of the 2013 Adequan Global Dressage Festival and plan to host it in future years.”
Teams can consist of either three or four horse and rider combinations and include horses performing at Prix St. Georges or Grand Prix.
A maximum of 10 teams of four riders each can be accepted. Riders must receive their National Federation’s permission to compete first and then form teams.
Teams can be made up of riders and horses solely from a single nation or composed of riders from more than one country, with priority given to Central and South America.
Colombia, Puerto Rico and Venezuela have indicated plans to field teams made entirely of their own national riders, and other individual riders from Central and South America have expressed interest in being part of multinational squads.
The United States and Canada are expected to each field a team.
In addition to Spain, up to two other teams are expected from Europe.
Australia fielded a team in 2012 and is expected to do so again this year.
“We want this event to be as open as possible, and on the other hand supporting the nations from the Americas, mainly Central and South America, as much as we can, (for them) to take part in the test event and share this experience for further development,” said Thomas Baur of the FEI Dressage Committee.
The FEI will award a Baccarat crystal horse head to the top team from Central and South America.
In addition to the FEI America’s Award, an International Cup will also be presented as well as $35,000 in prize money. Title sponsor of the AGDF, Adequan, will present one of their special Adequan Tack Lockers to the high-scoring rider from Saturday night’s class.
For more information, prize list, or entries for the Wellington Dressage Nations Cup CDIO 3* presented by Stillpoint Farm or the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, please visit www.globaldressagefestival.com or phone +1 561 793 5867.