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Cuckson Report | December 3, 2018
Since the FEI general assembly in Bahrain two weeks ago, the FEI website has featured a portrait of Ingmar de Vos, re-elected president unopposed. “The sky really is the limit” says the blurb, in a somewhat sweeping statement. Broad brush strokes are indeed the theme of Ingmar’s “road map” for his next four years.
There is not much sport-specific detail. Eventing gets mentioned once, in the context of future Olympic venue selection. Dressage is mentioned in terms of needing a title sponsor for the World Cup series – now in its second season funded wholly by the FEI after the contract serviced by Haya’s buddy Reem Acra expired. No mention of rollkur, notwithstanding the oft-repeated mantra that welfare is TOP priority.
The only thing that to me has the sky as its limit is Jan Tops’s Global Champions Tour. My word, how the Global has mushroomed during the first four years of Ingmar’s presidency – and despite the FEI, not because of it.
While bringing riches to jumpers akin to other top sportsmen, the Tour has unwittingly undermined the very Olympic participation that most senior jumpers believe their sport compromised itself to maintain. I can only comment on what I am hearing in the UK, but there have now been several championships and key Nations Cups for which Scott Brash and Ben Maher were unavailable, due to commitments to the Tour. Plenty of folks are murmuring that riders who don’t help GB qualify (as we are not there yet) should not be on the Tokyo team. Whether or not that bites off one’s nose to spite one’s face, the mindset hardly builds camaraderie.
Still, the Tour is hard to knock from a spectator perspective. Because of its pay card-related business model, a number of get-rounders are par for the course, but the cream always rises to the top. No principal class jump-off all season has been less than electrifying.
And now, significantly, the Tour moves indoors for the first time, with the new “play-off” show in Prague (December 13-16) boasting an eye-watering 12m euro (US$ 13.6m) purse. If a Global winter indoor league is being developed, more than the FEI Nations Cup is at risk.
Incredibly, there is not one mention of the E-word in Ingmar’s road map, despite endurance being the FEI’s biggest public relations/welfare problem of all time. Endurance’s “issues” are hardly top secret, why not discuss the strategy, unless there isn’t one, of course...
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