FEI responds to eventers’ ‘frustration’ after hopes dashed of replacement class

  • The FEI has said it “appreciates the frustration” and that there was “no lack of willingness” on its part to allow a replacement CCI2*-S to go ahead – but that its hands are tied by its rules.

    Event riders made a “personal appeal” to the FEI after hopes of adding a CCI2* at Bicton International (25 to 28 May) at short notice were dashed. This extra class would have been a replacement for those lost to the wet spring, such as Chatsworth’s cancelled short-format two-star. Bicton’s other classes will go ahead as normal.

    British Eventing (BE) chairman Mark Sartori said on Saturday (20 May) that owing to the “extreme weather challenges” and the “ramifications of so many lost events”, BE is working with the FEI, organisers, owners and riders “to address the many issues our members are facing”.

    “We are listening to our membership but need clarity from the FEI on replacement classes as well as working with our organisers on key issues such as abandonment insurance,” said Mr Sartori.

    “We will be updating our membership as soon as possible. It’s vital that we work with all our stakeholders during this period and keep our membership informed.”

    An FEI spokesman told H&H today (Monday, 22 May) that it “fully appreciates the frustration of event riders in Britain following several cancellations of classes and events due to bad weather”.

    “This is an unfortunate situation which has especially impacted the lower-level classes, and while we understand this has reduced the opportunities for athletes, we cannot override rules which have been put in place to ensure the integrity of the sport and the decision-making process,” added the FEI spokesman.

    A statement from Bicton on Thursday (18 May) said that approval granted by the FEI on 17 May for the addition of a CCI2*S had been “suddenly revoked”.

    Eventing Riders Association chairman Bruce Haskell added that the decision to “un-approve” the additional class was made “outside of the Bicton organising committee, BE, British Equestrian [BEF] and the FEI eventing committee”.

    “From a governance perspective It is clear that FEI eventing does not have control of its own programme and that under the current FEI administration, the destiny of eventing is determined by other non-related disciplines and the issues they have created in the past,” said Mr Haskell.

    “As athletes we again appeal to the FEI administration to see sense especially as the request for additional classes will directly impact young athletes, young horses, recreational working athletes, in other words, your future FEI customers.”

    Today’s response from the FEI spokesman added: “The BEF and the Bicton organising committee did request the FEI to grant an exception to the rules, however, as the rules are approved by the general assembly and there is no provision in the rules to override this – the FEI headquarters and/or secretary general, not for the want of trying, were ultimately not in a position to grant the exception.

    “In terms of revoking approval, the FEI did initially respond to the request, saying it ‘should be possible’, however, within a few hours, the FEI went back to confirm that it would not be possible, with a full explanation as to the reasons the request could not be granted.

    “This clearly demonstrates there was no lack of willingness on the FEI’s part, but that the rules would not allow for it and the FEI had no other option but to uphold the rules at play.

    “It’s also important to note a precedent was set in 2019 with regards to the FEI’s capacity to grant exceptions, when the FEI Tribunal issued a decision confirming that the FEI headquarters and/or secretary general were not entitled to grant exceptions if the rules did not allow the possibility of an exception.”

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