H&H has learnt that the FEI had to ring William Fox-Pitt at home last Wednesday (7 December) to break the news that Mary King was number one.
William – in common with H&H and rankings sponsor HSBC – had until that point believed he was the leading rider.
“There’s not really anything I can say to it,” said William. “I can’t even say it’s disappointing – because it’s obviously how it should have been.”
The misunderstanding arose because the FEI runs the HSBC rankings on a rolling 12-month basis and not a calendar year.
Because the latest rankings list is based on results between 1 December 2010 and 30 November 2011, William’s second place at Pau in November 2010 was not included in his tally.
That meant his points total was reduced to 586, compared to Mary’s 601.
A spokesman for the bank said: “HSBC is delighted for Mary King and proud to acknowledge and reward her incredible achievement as leader of the HSBC world rankings.”
William added his congratulations, saying: “It is great for Mary and a fitting end to the season she has had.”
Mary secured the $150,000 ( £94,800) HSBC FEI Classics – which recognise the best rider of the year across the world’s four-star horse trials – when she came fourth at Pau.
William told H&H that he hoped the rankings system would become more comprehensible in the future as a result of this year’s misunderstanding.
“I think next year everyone will be able to be abreast of it and, hopefully, the leader board through the season will be more transparent,” he said.
However, the FEI’s director of eventing Catrin Norinder said she believed the rankings system was quite clear.
“The points system and the whole rankings system are on the FEI website and they have not changed in five or six years,” she said.
“This rollover system is used in most sports, including the FEI showjumping rankings.”
This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (15 December 2011)