Global disappointment as pandemic forces championship cancellation

  • Dressage riders and breeders worldwide are disappointed after the FEI World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses (WBFSH) Dressage World Breeding Championship for Young Horses was cancelled.

    The championships, postponed from August, were due to take place in Verden, Germany, on 9-13 December, with the world’s best five-, six- and seven-year-old horses battling it out for the prestigious titles.

    Despite the fact additional measures were added to the event protocol to mitigate the risks from Covid-19 – and a negative coronavirus test result is required to enter Germany – the event organisers pulled the plug on Friday (27 November).

    “It is precisely the international nature of the championships that makes it impossible to hold it,” said the Hanoverian Verband, which runs the championship.

    “Further to several meetings between the FEI, WBFSH and the OC [organising committee], and despite the updated mitigation plan, the regrettable decision was made that the best and only option, in the face of this pandemic, is to cancel the event,” said Jan Pederson, president of the WBFSH.

    Event director Wilken Treu added: “The safety of everyone involved is paramount and we can’t expect anyone to take long detours on their journey or to have problems returning home just before Christmas.”

    Combinations from 23 nations were expected to compete at the championships, among them six British horses. Greg Sims and Waverley Fellini, and Jezz Palmer on King IV were due to represent Britain in the five-year-old section, while Tom Goode was selected to ride both Straight Horse De Milla and Jaristo in the six-year-old championship. Sarah Millis and Impressive VDC, and Luke Baber-Davies riding Ivoli-E were due to be Britain’s representatives in the seven-year-old ranks.

    “This would have been my first big championship and we were really looking forward to it, so for it to be cancelled is a real shame,” Greg told H&H. “It’s a massive honour to have been selected, and it is something I have always wanted to do.

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    “It’s nice for the horse to get the praise and recognition as well; we have had him since he was three and he deserved the chance to show what he can do on a big stage,” he added of the Fürstenball x Sandro Hit gelding Fellini, who was bred in Warwickshire by Sara Longworth of Waverley Stud.

    “He has had a great year, winning the novice gold championship, the five-year-old championship and the selection trial, and he was geared up and ready to go for Verden. I just hope we can produce the same sort of results in 2021.”

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