At Saturday night's press conference in Lyon, things became slightly heated as Frank Rothenberger was somewhat upset about not being able to adjust the time allowed – while FEI's John Roche went in defence of the rules, and a crystal clear Steve Guerdat spoke his mind. This is what went down yesterday night in a small clash of the titans after 21 riders went clear, by far too many, after the time obviously should have been adjusted so that it became a factor.
Frank Rothenberger on the question on why he didn't change the time allowed: "I don't want to get in details on this question, as I am really angry about the situation that we are almost not allowed anymore to change the time allowed. So, the new situation is that the judges has to follow the course designer when the course is measured and then normally we go up to the judges box – we watch the first three horses. Then we try to agree to find a suitable time allowed for the class. And normally we would have set the time allowed to 72 or 73 seconds, but the judges said before I started asking the question 'We will not change anything'. Then I asked if I could leave the judges box, as it is wasted time to be up there. We watched three horses, the time was set, I left and for me it was very sure that the time was too long. It was correct measured, but the time was no factor anymore for this class. And I was very sure when we left the judges tower that we would get too many clear rounds. Full stop, end of story."
FEI's John Roche followed up by replying: "The rule hasn't change. The course is set at a specific speed, and it's supposed to be measured according to the ideal line that the rider rides. That's it. That's always been the way. Over the years, a degree of advantage has been taken out of the situation and the time allowed has been changed without really the necessity to change the time. There is a laid down speed, and if the speed is not fast enough then the speed needs to be changed to 350 to 375 – but the speed is as it is laid down and the course is supposed to be measured according to the ideal line to be ridden. It's as simple as that. That is enforced by the FEI and after our experiences in Herning at the European Championship, were the time was changed considerably because the first rider went in and rode very, very quickly, and then the time was changed immediately afterwards – creating a situation where as an actual fact the riders were no longer required to ride at the required speed which was 400 but faster than that which as an actual fact was against the rules. So, we are just following the rules and we are doing exactly as we have always done. There has been no change, we are just applying the rules."
Steve Guerdat then took the word: "Is the World Cup Final the right place John to apply the rules for the first time?
John Roche: "The rules are not being applied for the first time"
Steve Guerdat: "I think the course designer – it is his job you know, and he knows better than any FEI judge or any FEI official because he is course designer – it is his job. And I think it should be up to him to be free to change the time.
John Roche: "There's a principal here."
Steve Guerdat: "It's my opinion."
John Roche: "That's fine, everybody is entitled to have their own opinion. The situation is the riders ride at the laid down speed according to the line to be ridden and that's it. There is an actual fact that there is a conference tomorrow to discuss the future of course designing and this item is on the agenda anyway for discussion."
John Roche then got the question whether he thinks it really didn't change the sport this weekend to apply this now. 'What is more important – the time allowed or the fact that there are 21 clear rounds instead of 10? ' he was asked and replied: "I don't think that the entire blame can be put down to the time allowed. I am sorry."
The winner Kent Farrington also commented on the course ahead of this 'discussion': "I think obviously it wasn't exactly what Frank wanted. When we first walked the course, it was a difficult line to the combination on four and a half strides – and then the line was changed before we started the class. I think that maybe ended up with a few more clears than expected."
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