Campaign on against plans for only one owner per horse in Tokyo *H&H Plus*

  • The International Olympic Committee announced that only one owner per horse would be allowed at the Games. H&H finds out what this might mean, and what action is being taken

    THE FIGHT is on to reverse the “disappointing” rule that only one owner per horse can attend the Tokyo Olympics as organisations lobby for a U-turn.

    Last week the FEI wrote to national federations informing them of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Tokyo organising committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (TOCOG) decision that only one owner per horse will be allowed to attend the Games owing to the coronavirus pandemic. In previous years, two owners per horse have been allowed.

    In Carl Hester’s column he explained that many horses have multiple owners as that is a way to keep top horses in this country. Carl also raised concerns about the possibility of a “worst-case scenario” if owners were to refuse to allow their horses to attend, if they are not allowed to go.

    “Owners are the lifeblood of equestrian sport and, just as it is for riders to ride there, to see your horse perform at an Olympics is the pinnacle and dream for owners and breeders alike,” he said.

    British Equestrian performance director Dickie Waygood told H&H the decision was “massively disappointing”.

    “Owners are the biggest sponsors of our sport. We’re hugely grateful to owners and really like to think that nobody will not make their horses available because they can’t go, but it’s what dreams are made of and that’s why owners put huge investments into their horses for little if any financial award – it’s about being part of the journey; the Olympic dream,” he said.

    “We are campaigning to see if the decision can be reversed. Myself, and along with other national federations, have gone back robustly to try to defend the owners.”

    The FEI told H&H owners are “absolutely crucial” to the sport and the FEI is continuing to “proactively” lobby the IOC and the TOCOG on owner accreditation.

    “It is important there is an awareness that these owner accreditations come through the National Olympic Committees (NOC), it is not an FEI accreditation,” said an FEI spokesman.

    “We have written to all participating national federations about the issue, urging them to push for this through their NOCs, and athletes can help in the process by contacting both their NOC and national federation. We all know we wouldn’t have a sport, especially at the elite level, without our owners, so we all need to fight for them.”

    Gary Widdowson, owner of Nick Skelton’s London and Rio Olympics gold medal-winning ride Big Star, was at both Games and said attending the Olympics is the “ultimate” experience for an owner.

    “While you’re not the competitor, it’s your biggest involvement in owning the horse and being part of a team event; the horse, rider, owner are the team that manages to get to the Olympics,” he told H&H.

    “It would be very disappointing [to not be allowed to attend] but with Covid, can anyone say that one owner is not correct?”

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