New North American World Cup Format for 2020-21–Two-Tier Shows With Higher Results for More Entries, Points Replacing Scores to Qualify

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American riders at the 2019 World Cup Final–Laura Graves, Adrienne Lyle and Kasey Perry-Glass.

Dec. 2, 2019


Major changes in World Cup qualifying in North America including switching from scores to points to qualify similar to Europe and a two-tiered system based on the number of competitors will come into effect for the 2020/21 season leading to the Final in Gothenburg, Sweden in April 2021.

A limit of 10 qualifiers will be held in North America—6-8 in the United States, 1-3 in Canada and 1 in Mexico, under the new rules that were approved by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) and posted Monday. As many as 12 qualifiers have been staged in recent years, all in the U.S. The last time there were qualifiers elsewhere was in 2015 when two were staged in Canada. A North American League committee will decide how to reallocate events if the proposed schedule is not filled, subject to approval by the FEI.

The North American League–one of four geographic regions set up for the World Cup, the others being Western Europe, Central Europe and Pacific–will continue to be awarded two of the 18 places at the Final, though under the rules this can be increased to three. It was this year when Laura Graves on Verdades, Kasey Perry-Glass on Dublet and Adrienne Lyle on Salvino competed at Gothenburg.

Points awarded based on results of the Grand Prix Freestyle will be 13 for first place, 10 for second, eight for third down to 1 for 10th. However, if at least eight combinations are in the Freestyle, bonus points will be added—seven for first down to 1 point for sixth place that would make the total 20 points for first, same as in Europe.

Until recently, only the best two scores counted in qualifying for the annual championship Final, but that was changed to three scores and now is being altered to points for placings. Big differences in the number of entries made the change essential if adopting a points system, as some North American qualifiers have only a handful of entries–as few as one.

A minimum of total combined prize money of the equivalent of US$5,000 must be provided for the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Freestyle.

The new rules will come into effect after the Final in Las Vegas in mid-April.

The new World Cup qualifying system reflects the changing landscape of international dressage competitions in North America.

The Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida is by far the most successful circuit with seven CDIs over winter, including four World Cup events, each with US$17,000 in prize money. Under the new rules, though, Global will lose one after next winter’s circuit as only three qualifiers by the same organizer will be allowed.

In 2019, after two qualifiers in Southern California, one in Saugerties, New York and one in Devon, Pennsylvania the only remaining qualifiers on the schedule for the current season leading to the Las Vegas Final are the four at Global from January through March.

The West Coast dressage circuit created three years ago to include at least four World Cup qualifiers has folded. A new CDI, not identified as a World Cup event, has been announced for California.

At World Cup events in California in recent years, only Del Mar in late August has attracted sufficient entries to meet the new requirements of at least eight combinations to earn full points.

On the East Coast, Devon and the Wellington competitions typically have attracted enough entries for full points.

However, the changes could lead to new World Cup qualifiers to emerge at different locations.