SHOW JUMPERS from the Emirates have good news after Ingmar De Vos, the President of the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI), revealed the official governing body for the sport had decided to increase the number of qualifying spots available for the World Cup. Three spots had been reserved for nations from the entire Arab League, which includes countries spread out across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. But at a FEI meeting convened on the sidelines of the CSI 5*-W HH Ruler of Sharjah Cup presented by Longines, a grand show jumping competition which concluded at the Sharjah Equestrian and Racing Club (SERC) last week, a decision was taken to break the Arab League qualifying competition into two parts.
The new qualifying format hands three qualifying spots to countries in the Middle East and two to countries in the North African belt. However, riders will be allowed to carry points from competitions outside their qualifying zones into their own zonal qualifying systems, which would enable them to participate in more competitions and in the words of De Vos ‘enhance the quality of show jumpers produced in the region’. Speaking to Al Adiyat, De Vos said: “We had an important meeting to discuss the future of the FEI World Cup Jumping competitions here in the region and invited all the national federations of the countries involved and I think we have arrived at some very good conclusions.
“The systems had been in existence for 14 years, while the sport continued to evolve and we have seen great developments in all these countries so we have now decided to divide the Arab League qualifiers into two and to also give two more spots to the region at the World Cup. “I think we have found good solutions that have made everybody happy and gives everybody an equal chance to organise and qualify. I think we have now created a structure for the sport to grow further in the future and we are looking forward to the outcome of that.” De Vos, 54, took over the reins at the FEI as its 13th President in 2014, succeeding HRH Princess Haya bint Al Hussein.
And the FEI’s Belgian boss took the time to laud the UAE’s efforts to promote show jumping and praised the organisers of the HH Ruler of Sharjah Cup for putting together a brilliant show. “I think organisers here are doing a very fine job of putting together events like these which have caught the attention of riders from around the world. We have not only World Cup competitions here, but also qualifiers for the Longines FEI Nations Cup which leads up to the final in Barcelona,” De Vos added. “But what is important that they are running a lot of smaller competitions for riders based here and this will give a good push to enhance the quality of jumping competitions.”
A final decision will be taken by the FEI Jumping Committee at the FEI Bureau in March, but John Roche, the FEI Director of Jumping, can see no obstacles. He too was present at the Sharjah competition and told Al Adiyat: “I haven’t been in the country for nearly seven years but when I compare that time with what I can see today they are worlds apart. “The level of riding has improved so much and the quality of jumping here is absolutely world class now. It’s fantastic that the sport has developed and progressed so much in the entire region is fantastic and it is very, very rewarding to see this and to be here. “We wanted to know where we are and where we we would like to go in the future and I genuinely believe that we had a very successful meeting and we have a very clear vision in relation to where we want to go in the future.”
SERC General Manager Sultan Al Yahya’ie welcomed news regarding the increase in the number of qualifying spots saying: “When the Arab League started there was only 1 spot for countries here and then it went up to three and now we will be having 5 which is really good. “After the FEI has witnessed what’s happening at this competition they are very proud to have made the right decision to award two more spots to the region.”