Chefs d’equipe of top-level show jumping Nations Cup teams are frustrated with the new format, saying it is restrictive and stops them from introducing new riders to five-star competition.

Samsung’s sponsorship of the series, then named the Super League, ended last year and Meydan became the 2009 sponsors (news, 22 May 2008).

The reformatted series includes more teams — from eight to 10, but smaller squads, from five to four.

International Equestrian Federation (FEI) director of show jumping John Roche said: “Having fewer participants per country is about timing and a need to keep public interest.”

He said the new format was developed due to globalisation of the sport and the increased number of teams reflects this.

But the implications of a four-rider entry are causing concern to the chefs d’equipe, especially as America has been allowed to run a fifth rider this year.

Mr Roche explained: “Due to the riders being based overseas, the US has been allowed a fifth rider as an individual. It would be extremely difficult for them to field teams otherwise.

“Without allowances, we would risk them not competing, so the series would not be global.”

British team manager Derek Ricketts said: “If something happens to a rider, we have no spare. Also, we can no longer take younger riders along to give them experience at five-star level.”

Irish chef d’equipe Robert Splaine shares these concerns.

The US chef d’equipe, George Morris does not see that his country has any advantage in the new format competitions.

“We can’t fly horses back and forth so we’ve got the same ones at each event — every team at St Gallen [the Nations Cup competition last weekend] had fresh horses, except the USA.”

Speaking after a meeting at St Gallen, Dutch chef d’equipe Rob Ehrens said: “We need to find the best solution for everyone. It’s good we can communicate.”

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (11 June, ’09)