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FEI Jumping Director John Roche: “The equestrian community is well aware that we need to keep evolving”

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

John Roche. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
John Roche. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

At Helsinki International Porsche Horse Show, FEI Jumping Director John Roche discussed the future of the sport of jumping and the challenges it is facing. “One should always strive to improve. The equestrian community is well aware that we need to keep evolving. We have a great, growing sport – but we have to make sure the formats are clear and simple for people to follow,” was the message from Roche.

“Currently, there are a lot of things that are being looked at in the sport of jumping. In many ways it is a very happy situation; many issues we are experiencing at the moment are basically luxury issues – such as the growing number of international events, for example. Since I started to work at the FEI 29 years ago there has been an increase of 480% in the number of CSI events, which is enormous,” Roche reflected.

There are a number of things the FEI is currently working on; the event categorization system for CSI and CSIO events and the invitation system – just to mention a few examples. “A number of years ago the FEI decided that another categorisation system for CSI and CSIO events needed to be introduced; now the categorization system is based on prize money alone. However, we are working on a new way to evaluate events,” Roche reveals.

“We wish to take everything into consideration, the facilities and stabling for example – and not only the prize money. There are many organizers who can offer way above the minimum prize money required, and there are fantastic events with excellent facilities that might struggle to get the money together. An event with half a million Swiss francs in prize money, which is now the minimum requirement for a five-star event, might possibly in future lose its five-star status if it does not reach the necessary level for certain other requirements,” Roche explains. “Everything needs to be considered together in order to get the overall picture right; at the moment we find ourselves at a crossroad.”

“The FEI has also been working on an invitation system for the CSI events for the past number of years which together with the FEI online entry system will be fully functional during the course of next year,” Roche says. “To assist the riders, the invitation system will function automatically; riders in descending order will receive an invitation and if it is rejected the invitation will keep going to the following riders next in line on the Longines Ranking. A lot of work over the years has gone into assisting riders obtaining invitations to international events.”

On the possibility of creating a six-star level of events, Roche commented: “We have to wait and see. It is premature to discuss that until we are 100% sure how the new evaluation system works out, because the invitation system, the ranking system and event classification system are all tied together.”

For the smaller countries that are striving to improve within the sport, and also are geographically far from the centre of it, Roche had some encouraging words: “Nothing is impossible. Naturally there needs to be a plan; you reach the top through participation. The challenges to reach the top increase if one is not based where the top sport takes place. Countries that wish to improve and have a number of riders compete consistently at the top level need to have a sound educational system for the youth, then the rest will fall into place. And of course it is important in order to reach the top, to be mounted correctly and to have good trainers.”


Text © Nanna Nieminen for World of Showjumping // Picture © Jenny Abrahamsson

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