With Hickstead Remaining In 2019 Nations Cup Series, Sweden Already Clinched Title

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The Swedish team that won the Falsterbo Nations Cup to clinch a third straight title in the annual trans-Atlantic series.

July 23, 2019

By KENNETH . BRADDICK

With the Hickstead, England Nations Cup wrapping up the 2019 trans-Atlantic series of eight competitons, Sweden has already clinched its third straight annual title with no indication the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) is considering changes to put more life into the team event.

None of the three countries at the top of the standings–Sweden at 47 points, Germany at 44 and the USA at 35–are competing at Hickstead and only if Great Britain wins will the home side earn enough points to change the top rankings, moving to third place to bump the Americans down to fourth. Teams entered for Hickstead are Great Britain, Ireland, Netherlands and Portugal.

Sweden clinched the title at its home competition at Falsterbo two weeks ago while Germany’s victory in its own sandbox at Aachen assured it runner-up.

Sweden is expected to send an official to Hickstead to pick up another silver tray–not a cup. The FEI rejected an offer by dressage-news.com in 2014 to donate a cup as a perpetual trophy and miniatures for the riders of the winning team. The governing body said it was working to attract a major series sponsor. Five years later there is still no series sponsor, major or otherwise.

“The Nations Cup series is disappointingly, really under supported,” said Dane Rawlins, organizer of the Hickstead event that was one of four foundation competitions, all in Europe in 2013.

Järvenpää, Finland, a newcomer to the lineup this year received entries from only three countries so the results did not count toward the final totals as four nations are required to start.

There are three different formats for the series.

The United States, which has typically hosted the first event each year at the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, allows both Big and Small Tour combinations to meet the needs of a substantial number of participants from South America and the Pan American Games provide for the same mix.

Some countries choose to count results of the Grand Prix and the Special with the top three scores of each team counting while others opt for the more complicated verson of three team members riding in the Grand Prix and three scores from up to two pairs in both the Special and Freestyle but calculated by the finishing orders so the lowest total is the winner.

The Netherlands won the series the first two years, Germany in 2015, the USA in 2016 and Sweden all three since.

Of the 44 Nations Cups staged since the first in the series in 2013, Sweden leads in participation by competing in a total of 33.

The Dutta Corp. USA teams, despite distance and cost, is tied with the Netherlands by participating in a total of  28 events with Denmark and Germany tied at 24 each.

Some countries, such as Australia and Germany, have blown hot and cold on the series, both having refused to allow teams to enter on at least one occasion although sufficient combinations were available to form a team.

Some national federations and riders have spoken out in favor of a series final, similar to the popular final of the jumping Nations Cups.

Patrik Kittel, who has ridden in many Nations Cups, described the dressage series as OK, but should be the same format throughout to make the events simple and understandable to everyone.

He suggests a final of the top four or five teams to generate “mega” excitement.
“I like a final if there is something to fight for–which is the best team in the world?” he said. “But we have to lift that to mean something and not just somthing that passes on as it is in the format we have today where you get nothing if you win it and that makes it then also worth nothing for the riders. Whatever we do let’s make it count and make the sport better and more interesting.”