Friday 31 March - 10h59 | Lulu Kyriacou/Diana Dobson
Blood Rules Rear Head At World Cup Finals
There was disappointment and heartbreak at the FEI World Cup Dressage Final when New Zealand's Wendi Williamson was disqualified after her Grand Prix test on Dejavu MH when the stewward found a tiny amount of blood on the horse' lip, that had not been noticed by any of the judges during the test itself.
As has happened at other high profile competitions in the past, there rule was applied arbitarily despite the fact that the horse completed its test without incident, on he whole looking relaxed and was clearly not the victim of any sort of abuse. The very tiny amount of blood appears to be from a bitten lip. Riders had to score at least 60% to progress to Saturday's Freestyle and Williamson had acheived this goal when eliminated. Equestrian Sport New Zealand (ESNZ) said in a statement, "“We are very disappointed,” said Kumeu-based Williamson. “We underestimated how hot he was going to get and he was beside himself. He bit his lip – not sure when – and while the judges didn’t notice it, the stewards did. It was very minor but rules are rules.”
If there is any blood on the horse, it is seen as a welfare issue and means immediate elimination.
Williamson and Dejavu MH drew praise from the commentators during the test for their piaffe and passage work. After the test – but before elimination – the combination were awarded a provisional score of 63.843% by judges.
“It was a very difficult test to ride and we are obviously very disappointed,” she said. ”It is such a shame because he is in the best shape. His work here has been amazing but he just got so worked up over the last 24 hours as the noise and intensity levels in the centre increased.”
The combination, who represented the Pacific League at the final, had travelled the farthest of the 16 combinations. It was the first time New Zealand has ever had a combination at the world dressage final.
Equestrian Sports New Zealand high performance director Sarah Dalziell-Clout said it was an unfortunate end to a very exciting step for dressage in New Zealand.
“Having a New Zealand representative at the world final is such a significant achievement,” she said. “These two are a promising combination for the future and while the final result was unfortunate, the experience will undoubtedly be invaluable and we look forward to seeing their next performance on the world stage.”
Subsequent to the ruling, ESNZ have asked for clarification on whether or not Williamson will be able to take her place in the Freestyle if her horse is declared fit by the officals in Omaha. The combination, who represented the Pacific League at the final, had travelled the farthest of the 16 combinations. It was the first time New Zealand has ever had a combination at the world dressage final.