Aachen will not host FEI Nations Cup

  • Aachen will not feature in the Nations Cup series for what is thought to be the first time since the competition began in the 1930s,

    The German fixture is a notable absentee from the 2014 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup showjumping calendar, which was unveiled last week.

    Aachen, which first hosted a Nations Cup in 1929, will still host its own Nations Cup event, but not as part of the official FEI series.

    FEI jumping committee chairman John Madden said Aachen was “unable to meet the [FEI’s] commercial requirements”.

    It is unclear as yet whether there has been a dispute over finances.

    “Despite the best efforts of all parties it was not possible to resolve this matter,” he said.

    A spokesman for Aachen said the decision was made due to “financial reasons”. 

    British showjumping team manager Rob Hoekstra said he was “disappointed” by the omission and was considering how it would affect his plans.

    “We were shocked to hear the news,” he told H&H. “We will now have to consider whether we go to Aachen’s [own] Nations Cup. Our top priority is the World Equestrian Games and qualifying for the Olympics, and our second priority is the FEI Nations Cup Series.”

    He added: ”We have won the grand prix there for the past  2 years [Michael Whitaker, 2012; Nick Skelton, 2013]. It is arguably one of the best shows in the world, and for it not to be in the series is a great shame.”

    But Frank Kemperman, of the Aachen organising committee, said it was a positive move.

    “This new situation means that we are now significantly more flexible regarding which teams we invite to participate. In future, the strongest teams at the given point in time will compete against each other in the [Aachen’s] traditional Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup.”

    Last year, the FEI restructured showjumping’s leading annual international team contest, backed with massive funding from the Saudi Federation.

    But the structure has been criticised for being confusing. Countries elect 4 shows out of 8 for their scores to count in, but can still compete at other venues.

    Last year, Britain didn’t choose Aachen as 1 of its counting shows, so fielded a lesser team.

    Countries are grouped geographically into assorted leagues and are able to score qualifying points for the finals at their four pre-elected shows.

    This year, the number of qualifiers for the season has been limited to 20, with 8, instead of 10 in both Europe division one and Europe division two.

    In place of Aachen, Lummen in Belgium has been moved into Europe division 1.

    This story was originally published in 16 January 2014 issue of Horse & Hound.

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