The British Equestrian jumping team achieved a significant feat by winning their first world team medal in 24 years in Herning, Denmark. And with that thrilling win, he secured a spot in Equestrian Jumping at Paris 2024. On a thrilling night, Olympic champions Ben Maher and Scott Brash teamed up with up-and-coming riders Harry Charles and Joseph Stockdale to secure the bronze medal. This achievement also earned them a coveted France Olympic quota place.
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Scott Brash expressed his delight at the team’s victory, praising the young riders for their impressive performances. Their achievement secured a team quota place for Paris 2024 as the top five highest-ranked teams. But excluding the host country France earned a spot. This success means that Team GB will participate in Equestrian jumping. And they have up to three entries in the individual event at the iconic Château de Versailles in two years.
The team was led by Ben Maher as hewon the individual Olympic gold medal in Tokyo. And his 12-year-old horse Faltic HB. After a shaky start, 39-year-old Ben Maher recovered from four early faults to deliver an impressive round. And earned him a new personal score of 5.42. Maher credited his success to his horse Faltic HB, who he said had done an amazing job this week. And he had proved that he was a championship horse. Maher added that the course was challenging, but he focused on taking it one jump at a time. Also praised Faltic for jumping fantastically.
FEI appoints Equestrian Jumping Co-Course Designers for Paris 2024 Olympic Games
FEI Board announced that Santiago Varela Ullastres from Spain and Gregory Bodo from France will be the Co-Course Designers for the Equestrian Jumping and Jumping Eventing Competitions at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Varela is a well-respected 4* Technical Delegate and Course Designer in Jumping. As he has been designing courses since he was 14 years old.
He achieved FEI Level 4 Course Designer status in 2013. And he has designed courses at various events of all levels around the world. That includes the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ qualifiers and finals. As well as championships for Children, Juniors, Young Riders, and U25. He was also the Course Designer for the first Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Final in Barcelona in 2013. And the FEI Jumping European Championship in Madrid in 2011.
Santiago Varela has had a distinguished career as a Technical Delegate for Jumping. He has overseen the event at various prestigious competitions such as the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Normandy in 2014. And the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and the FEI Jumping European Championship 2017 in Gothenburg. However, Varela’s most notable contributions to the sport lie in his role as Course Designer. And particularly in designing the Jumping test of Eventing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. There his innovative designs were praised for their cultural sensitivity. And rider-friendly challenges that prioritized the well-being of both horses and athletes. Meanwhile, Frenchman Gregory Bodo has been building Jumping courses on an international level for over two decades.
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In addition, Bodo served as Assistant Course Designer alongside Varela at the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Paris in 2018. And later designed the FEI Jumping European Championships for Youth in Fontainebleau the same year. He continued to serve as Assistant Course Designer at various prestigious competitions. And it includes the FEI Jumping European Championship 2019 in Rotterdam and the FEI Jumping European Championship 2021 in Riesenbeck. Other than that once again at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, where he collaborated with Varela to design the courses.
Riders agree to disagree about the Equestrian Jumping Paris Olympic format
There is a contentious issue in the world of show jumping regarding the three horse-and-rider combinations per team Olympic formula. The FEI has proposed a review of the qualification system for the Paris Olympic Games. As it will be given priority after the Tokyo Games. The FEI Jumping Committee has already indicated that they will adhere to the Olympic formula of three horse-and-rider combinations per team.
However, some show-jumping riders, including Steve Guerdat, Ludger Beerbaum, Mclain Ward, Nick Skelton, and Rodrigo Pessoa. They have expressed concerns and grievances about this new system. Their biggest concern is the welfare of the horses involved. Rodrigo Pessoa, a renowned show jumping rider, has expressed his worries about horse welfare in the new three horse-and-rider combinations per team Olympic format.
He believes that the FEI Jumping Committee should listen to stakeholders, gather information, and make decisions for Paris Olympic based on the best recommendations possible. However, he has learned that the committee is not unanimous in their decision. Whcih is with two members in favour of having four riders and a drop score instead. Pessoa disagrees with the dispute that the Paris Olympic tournament is hard to recognize. Specially when there are four riders, and the worst score is scratched off.
It is not a complicated task to follow a team competition format with four riders, and using the excuse that it is difficult to understand is simply poor reasoning, he believes. He even compares it to following cricket, a sport known for its complex rules. Moreover, the American, French, German, and Irish national federations have also expressed concerns about horse welfare in the new format. However, the FEI Jumping Committee’s report did not address these concerns during the FEI Hybrid General Assembly.
Three to a Team gets the nod for Olympic 2024 despite concerns
During the FEI General Assembly held from November 14-17, the delegates conducted a vote and decided that teams of three will compete at the Olympic 2024 Games. However, the exact formats for the equestrian disciplines in the Olympic 2024 and Paralympic Games are still under consideration. And it will be decided at the International Olympic Committee executive board meeting in February. The rules and minimum eligibility requirements for Olympic disciplines are also yet to be consulted on. And the process is expected to run over the next 12 months.
The decision taken this week by horse sport’s decision-makers at the FEI general assembly effectively confirms the format of three combinations per team for the Olympic 2024 and Paralympic Games. While the exact formats of the equestrian disciplines for these Games are yet to be finalised, the process of qualification has been set in stone. The three-to-a-team format has faced criticism from riders and national federations alike, and FEI president Ingmar de Vos proposed a separate vote on the qualification process for teams of three.
The International Jumping Riders Club has shared a video of Olympic medallist Steve Guerdat speaking on the club’s behalf about how the fantastic sport in Tokyo was down to the sportspersons, course designer and horses, and not the new arrangement. Steve Guerdat’s suggestion of increasing the number of individual places and reducing the number of teams to four riders each, rather than three, could potentially be a better way forward.
He argues that this would increase the number of flags at the Games, a key priority for the International Olympic Committee, and help grow the equestrian sport in developing nations. Not all nations have enough riders at the required level to field a team, so boosting the individual quotas would help build the sport globally and act as a progressive way towards more countries qualifying in the future.
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