Sweden Wins Nations Cup Series, Faltering in 2nd Year as FEI Event Lineup
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July 24, 2017
By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
Sweden has won the Nations Cup series for 2017 but several participating nations have banded together to seek a major overhaul of the official International Equestrian Federation (FEI) trans-Atlantic lineup that has been derided as confusing and lacking both spectator and national appeal with four different formats at seven shows.
With the CDIO3* Nations Cup in Hickstead, England to be staged this week as the finale event for 2017, Sweden has accumulated an unassailable total of 52 points from its best four results. The United States, winner of the series in its inaugural year of 2016, is the likely runner-up.
The U.S. has made by far the biggest commitment to the series, competing in the Wellington, Florida event that kicked off this year’s lineup and all six European legs despite significantly higher costs for the Americans than the Europeans–air transportation as well as accommodations for horses and riders and the loss of business at home while showing in Europe. Many Americans competing in the European events pay their own costs.
Commitments by some countries for some of the Nations Cups has been lukewarm, while the formats and scheduling have also factored against participation.
A total of 11 countries took part in this year’s series as against 15 countries in 2016. This is expected to be boosted in 2018 with the World Equestrian Games, held once every four years, scheduled for Tryon, North Carolina.
The four different formats followed this year included Florida’s event that follows the Pan American Games system of mixed big and small tour combinations; France, Denmark, Netherlands and Great Britain adopted a format of teams of four in the Grand Prix, three scores counting, with two pre-designated pairs going to the Special and one to the Freestyle; Sweden restricted the number of starting pairs to three that led to the U.S. being uncompetitive as one horse was eliminated during the Grand Prix, and Germany’s Nations Cup decided by results from the Grand Prix and the Special.
The three final competitions in the series–Sweden, Germany and Great Britain–were scheduled on succeeding weeks.
The opening event at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington led to only three teams participating–Canada, Spain and the United States that meant no points were awarded as a minimum of four teams are required under the rules. Australia, for example, which officially has rated team competition as a priority for development of the sport, blocked a team from taking part although all prospective riders are based in the U.S. and pay all their own costs. The Australian federation relented but too late.
Only four countries competed at Nations Cups in Denmark and Sweden.
Representatives of the eight teams in Aachen, Germany plus one other agreed to recommend to the FEI the Nations Cup should be competed only at the Grand Prix.
Riders would decide whether to go on as individuals to the Special or the Freestyle.
A break of at least two weeks between Nations Cups was also recommended.
Some countries have made it plain they will not participate unless they are likely to finish high up, while others,use the series to provide team experience for as many riders as possible and to develop camaraderie.
The only likely exception under this proposal would be Florida, where a significant Central and South American presence could be excluded if the event is restricted to Grand Prix as the Pan Am Games held once every four years provides for both small and big tour horses.