By Louise Parkes/ Photo: FEI/Rui Pedro Godinho: The Winter Equestrian Festival at Wellington in Florida (USA) plays host to the opening leg of the second season of FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage on Wednesday, 19 February. Once again this is a pilot series, designed to assess the attractiveness of this type of event for organizers, athletes, National Federations, spectators, the media and potential sponsors. And the inclusion of the American fixture in this year’s calendar suggests the appeal of the concept is already spreading around the globe.
With nine teams entered provisionally to date the opening leg looks set to be a highly competitive affair. Both the USA and Canada have listed two teams while Australia, Colombia, Germany, The Netherlands and Spain have entered one each.
The series has expanded from four to six events in total for 2014. Following this week’s Wellington fixture, the spotlight will move to Vidauban (FRA) where the Dutch scored their first win on the road to taking the inaugural title last year. Rotterdam (NED) where the British won through last season will host the next leg again in June and this will be followed by another new fixture at Kristiansand (NOR) later that month.
The German team demonstrated their enormous strength to top their home leg in Aachen last summer before going on to take team gold at the ECCO FEI European Championships in Denmark a few weeks later, and Aachen will once again present the penultimate leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage this season. Hickstead (GBR) will bring the series to a close in early August, and with such colossal excitement around British Dressage right now, the event is bound to create huge excitement.
In Wellington, a new format will be tested so that team members can either ride Prix St George or Grand Prix tests to earn points towards the FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage ranking. At all the other fixtures in the series, the Grand Prix test alone will be used.
Each event is of equal standing, and the best three results for each nation over the six events will decide the overall result.
A minimum of four teams will take part in each event, and there is no maximum limit to the number of FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage competitions in which athletes and horses can take part. A team consists of a minimum of three and a maximum of four athlete/horse combinations. Organisers have the right to invite a limited number of additional home or foreign individual competitors.
Prize money for each event must be not less than €20,000 for the team classification (in addition to the standard prize money for individual classification) for CDIO 5*, €15,000 for CDIO 4* and €10,000 for CDIO 3*. If a team is eliminated it is not entitled to either prize money or FEI Nations Cup™ points.
Further positive evaluation at the end of the 2014 may lead to the establishment of a long-term official FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage series with the rules being further detailed according to the experiences of this second pilot season.
Trond Asmyr, FEI Director Dressage and Para-Equestrian Dressage says: “last year we only had qualifiers in Europe, so we are very happy now to also include a venue outside Europe which sets the series on the road to becoming truly global”.
Referring to this week’s opening fixture in Florida he continued: “This is the first time for a leg of the series to take place in the USA, and also the first time for Big Tour and Small Tour riders to combine in mixed teams. This is the formula that will be in use for the Pan American Games next year, so it will be interesting to see how it works out and we are all very much looking forward to the coming season.”