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Chairman of the Jumping Owners Club Dominique Mégret: “Championships are important to keep dreams alive, and to transform dreams to reality”

Friday, 29 May 2020
European Championships in jumping 2021

Photo © private collection Dominique Mégret, Chairman of the Jumping Owners Club. Photo © private collection.

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

The reactions have been many and widespread after the FEI announced that the 2021 European Championships would be cancelled for the disciplines of jumping, eventing, dressage and para dressage due to the revised dates for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. World of Showjumping talks with Dominique Mégret, chairman of the Jumping Owners Club, who says the Club’s first reaction on the cancellation was “huge disappointment”. 

“The Jumping Owners Club would have preferred to find a solution to secure the 2021 European Championships in jumping, and there are a number of reasons for this,” Mégret opens. “First of all, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Olympic Games and whether or not they can take place next year. While it is likely that the Games will be staged, we are far from sure about it. If the Olympic Games end up being cancelled it means we will be left with a gap of two years without a major championship for the European horse-and-rider combinations. This will undoubtedly be a big blow for our sport. To use the word catastrophe is perhaps a bit too much, but it’s not far from it.”

“Secondly, we have to take into account that the number of European horse-and-rider combinations competing at the Olympic Games is relatively low,” Mégret continues. “For nations qualified with teams there will be four pairs travelling to Tokyo, but under the new format only three of them will be competing – totalling 37 European horse-and-rider combinations including those that are qualified individually. In comparison, we had 80 horse-and-rider combinations at the Europeans in Gothenburg in 2017 and 70 in Rotterdam in 2019. Obviously, there is a large number of horses and riders that now will miss out on competing at championship level for a period of two years – which is very unfortunate, for the development of both horses and riders.” 

“Furthermore, in Europe, we are also in the lucky position that several countries have a lot of depth in their choice of horses and riders – and have enough power to field teams for both the European Championships and the Olympic Games. Hence, we would not be talking about sending the same combinations to both championships and jeopardizing the welfare of the horses,” Mégret says. 

“From an owner’s point of view, we have to acknowledge that for many the ultimate end goal is to get the chance to see your own horse participate at a championship and perhaps even win a medal,” Mégret says. “Championships are important to keep dreams alive, and to transform dreams to reality. Believe me, when our mare Flora de Mariposa won the team gold for France at the Olympic Games in Rio my wife, my daughter and I indeed felt a part of that success – it was both motivating and rewarding, which I believe is important for the owners.”

“The owners invest a lot of effort, resources and time into the sport. At the end of the day, we do this because we love horses and we love the sport – but we all need goals to reach for,” Mégret tells. “Of course, these goals depend on the horse, as well as the wish and will of the owner – but for many of us the championships or Nations Cups give something to strive for and work towards, already when you have a young horse.”

“The Jumping Owners Club shares a lot of the concerns that have already been expressed by different chef d’equipes and riders,” Mégret says. “However, as owners are not represented in the FEI Jumping Committee, nor in the FEI Jumping Calendar Task Force, we were not involved in the decision to cancel nor the process that led to it. When taking everything into account, we do understand the decision taken by the FEI as hosting a multi-disciplined European Championships in the same year as the Olympic Games is far from ideal from an organiser’s point of view. As we are well aware of, it is financially challenging to organise such a big multi-disciplined event – so to attempt to do that in an Olympic year must be very difficult, if not impossible.”

"That being said, the Jumping Owners Club believes that if an organiser has the financial strength and the venue to push forward an alternative for jumping only there is no reason why the FEI should not agree to reverse its decision,” Mégret says.

 

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