Why is the Global Champions Tour (GCT) so successful? It’s because it’s had one shrewd businessman at the helm. Even though Jan Tops has now brought in a partner, Frank McCourt — another very shrewd businessman — at worst their decisions are answerable to a panel of two.
They have a huge advantage over the rest of showjumping — no committees. They can make fast and commercial decisions, purely in their best interests. They’ve expanded round the world and the prize money has also continued to go up.
The FEI would struggle to match Jan in his vision but then the FEI would have to go through a lot of committees. The results of the processes the FEI has to take on board were particularly obvious in their recent decision to implement the boot rule, and continue with the blood rule. What a bad PR move that name was in the first place.
Rule changes should only be made by a small expert group, who are focused solely on showjumping. If they keep opening up the vote to countries all around the world — who don’t necessarily have knowledge of the top end of the sport — we’ll find ourselves all jumping in snaffles and no martingales.
The FEI’s inclusivity was obvious in its decision to host this year’s general assembly in Uruguay — but can you imagine how much that jolly cost?
Let’s pool expert resources
As for showjumping in Britain, I am wholly in agreement with William Funnell’s column last week. We need to find solutions and there is no magic wand.
We lost a valued supporter of top-end showjumping when Michael Mac died. He could make a decision in the best interest of owners, showjumpers and shows. He understood the sport completely.
It’s no coincidence that since he passed away we’ve seen a downward turn in our national shows, our top-end sport and the rules decisions that are made.
Now we have a lot of committees making rules that affect a lot of people — and not for the better. We need to come together and use the expertise we have so we can make some steady progress in small steps, not in knee-jerk reactions.
We have great business people in this country who are supporters of showjumping and they should be brought on board to give the sport some momentum. We could use their input on how to market it and how to appeal to commercial England for investment.
Modern technology has given us fantastic and easy ways to communicate, so I’ve also suggested to Nigel Coupe and Matt Sampson that they form a WhatsApp group — essentially a “riders club” forum for ideas and comments. This then can be a great way of communicating with British Showjumping, team leaders and sponsors.
At this point, we need to be constructive; if everyone keeps knocking the sport, no one will want to be a part of its future.
Time to split WEG?
News came out of the FEI’s AGM that Samorin’s bid to host WEG 2020 has been withdrawn. It’s the scale of the championships that people are now reluctant to take on. We know dressage and showjumping work well together — as shows like Olympia demonstrate — so has the time come to start dividing the championships up? I think there would be plenty of venues keen to take those two disciplines on as a package.
Ref Horse & Hound; 14 December 2017