Huge disappointment as Hickstead – and Britain — miss out in Nations Cup revamp

  • Hickstead is “hugely disappointed” to have missed out on the chance to be part of the revamped Nations Cup series.

    The FEI announced this year it was to rename the flagship showjumping series and run it in a new format. Last month, the FEI said it had accepted bids from events to run five qualifiers and a final in the Longines League of Nations.

    It has confirmed today (1 August) that there will be four qualifiers and a final from next year, and that neither Hickstead nor Dublin is on the list.

    “Obviously we’re hugely disappointed, with the FEI’s decision and the way it’s been handled, after 50 years of hosting Britain’s Nations Cup, and after such a magnificent win at Hickstead last week,” Hickstead director Lizzie Bunn told H&H.

    “We are still keen to have the Nations Cup, and we now have the freedom to explore other sponsors.”

    Lizzie added: “We are fortunate to have many loyal supporters, and the backing of our governing bodies and stakeholders has never been more vital. Our challenge now is that we have just weeks to make crucial decisions about the schedule for next year’s shows, and to secure a new sponsorship deal.”

    For the first seasons, from 2024 to 2027, the qualifiers will be held at St Gallen, Switzerland, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, Abu Dhabi, UAE, and Ocala, US. The final will be in Barcelona, Spain. The FEI board unanimously confirmed the decision yesterday.

    “The allocations were made further to a bid process, which began on 22 May, with extensive consultation between the FEI, the bidding organisers and their national federations in accordance with the allocation of FEI named events policy,” an FEI spokesman said.

    FEI president Ingmar de Vos said it was a “historic decision for the future of equestrian sport”.

    “This series is about inspiring individuals and nations around the core values of our sport – camaraderie, team spirit, horsemanship and excellence – and for over a century it has played an invaluable role in the development of equestrian globally.

    “We were very pleased with the large number of organisers eager to host a Longines League of Nations event in the coming seasons.

    “We undertook the task of selecting the events with great responsibility and I believe we have made a difficult but fair choice, striking a good balance between continuity and evolution. This fresh and exciting series gives us the opportunity to display the very best of team equestrian sport to large audiences in key territories and we are looking forward to working closely with these organisers to continue the Nations Cup legacy and inspire future generations of equestrians.”

    Mr de Vos said there were difficult decisions to be made owing to the number of bids submitted to host the series, and thanked organisers for hosting the competition in the past.

    “The board allocated four qualifiers for this global series in three regions – two in Europe, one in North America, and one in the Middle East,” FEI secretary general Sabrina Ibáñez said.

    “Although we originally planned to have five qualifiers, we were mindful that next year will be particularly busy with the Paris 2024 Olympic Games taking place from 26 July to 11 August. Having four qualifiers keeps the calendar reasonable and allows athletes, horses, and chefs d’équipe to manage horsepower and still have enough time to train, compete, and prepare for the Olympic Games.

    “During the inaugural Longines League of Nations season in 2024, we will evaluate the new concept and together with Longines and the FEI jumping committee, we will work towards adding a fifth qualifier in the following seasons.”

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