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New EEF Nations Cup series aims to create excitement and opportunity

Thursday, 06 February 2020
Sport

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

This season, the EEF series will be launched – and the team competition will be replacing the former FEI Nations Cup Europe Division 2. EEF President Theo Ploegmakers says that the new EEF series aims to help the sport develop further in all parts of Europe.

“We have a strong vision for the series,” Ploegmakers tells World of Showjumping. “All European nations can participate. In the EEF series, teams from less developed jumping nations get the chance to compete against more experienced nations. The less developed nations will be able to field their best horses and riders, whereas the more experienced nations – that perhaps already have teams in the Longines FEI Nations Cup Series – can send horses and/or riders that for different reasons are new to the level. As an example on how we aim to keep the level equal between the nations, horse-and-rider combinations from the Longines FEI Nations Cup Series’ national federations that have competed in a Nations Cup or team competition at 5* level within the current calendar year are not allowed to compete in a Nations Cup competition at an EEF series event. We believe the EEF series will be a great stage for horses and riders to gain experience and mileage in a team environment. We hope to develop talent for the future, and to help the sport grow further,” Ploegmakers says. 

“We have changed quite a lot from the former concept of the FEI Nations Cup Europe Divison 2,” Ploegmakers continues. “In the EEF series we start out with regional qualifiers at CSIO3* level. There will be four regions – South, Central, North and West. When we divided the groups, a key issue was to keep the travelling distances to the regional qualifiers minimal – both for the sake of the horses and the environment,” Ploegmakers says. “Each region will host two regional qualifiers at CSIO3* level and through these the teams qualify for the EEF Series semi-finals. There will be two semi-finals with ten teams qualified for each; the top five teams from both Regions South & Central and the top five teams from both Regions North & West. Regions South & Central will have their semi-final in Geesteren in the Netherlands, Regions North & West in Gorla Minore in Italy. If the home team has participated in the qualifiers but is not qualified for the semi-final and/or final, they can still participate as the eleventh team,” Ploegmakers explains. “The top five teams at each semi-final, will qualify for the EEF Series Final which will be a CSIO4* which will take place in Warsaw, Poland.”

“The winning team in the EEF Series Final will be promoted to the Longines FEI Nations Cup series for the next calendar year, unless it comes from a national federation already eligible. In such a case, it will be the next ranked team in the final that will be promoted,” Ploegmakers explains.

“Through the different qualifiers, the participating nations will have to take the various steps up the ladder – through the CSIO4* final, and potentially all the way to CSIO5* level. On the way there, we will also offer good prize money and ranking points and we are also currently negotiating with a title sponsor for the series for the next five years,” Ploegmakers says. 

Photo © Hippo Foto - Dirk Caremans “There is a lot of opportunity in the concept, and we hope it creates excitement – not only for the riders but also for owners, organizers, officials, sponsors and fans,” EEF President Theo Ploegmakers says. Photo © Hippo Foto - Dirk Caremans.

“We also hope that the EEF series will make it more interesting for existing owners to either keep their best horses or for new owners to invest even in a 3* horse,” Ploegmakers says. “With this series, owners have the chance to get their horses out competing for their country at CSIO3* level with the chance to qualify to jump at 4*- and then ultimately 5*-level.”

“This first year we hope to give the series a solid base, and to make it a competition that will be exciting for all and easy to follow. Through the different qualifying events, we hope to raise the level for everyone involved, also for the organizing committees. We will for example evaluate facilities and stable security for each event to make it better where it is necessary. This to raise the bar of all possible facilities,” Ploegmakers says.

“When it comes to talent this should not just be developed among horses and riders, we also aim to help upcoming course builders from different parts of Europe gain experience. We have teamed up with Santiago Varela and Louis Konickx, and the group of course builders that will be designated to the different events will be working under their wings. Santiago and Louis will this way be able to quality check courses ahead of the events, give their input and help the course builders in their career development,” Ploegmakers says. “This will also ensure that all the events have equal levels.”

“There is a lot of opportunity in the concept, and we hope it creates excitement – not only for the riders but also for owners, organizers, officials, sponsors and fans,” Ploegmakers concludes. 

 

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