How should the global rankings work? Top riders weigh in ahead of FEI assembly

Steve Guerdat and Bianca in France in 2017
Credit : Scoopdyga

Thursday 09 November - 11h46 | Ian Clayton

How should the global rankings work? Top riders weigh in ahead of FEI assembly

Protecting “real sport.” That is what the international club for Show Jumping riders wants to do on the issue of CSI 5* points and world rankings as it prepares for the 2017 FEI General Assembly in Montevideo, Uruguay later this month.

 - How should the global rankings work? Top riders weigh in ahead of FEI assembly

The International Jumping Riders Club (IJRC), whose voting members are riders who have competed in major championships, at least five Nations Cups, or are ranked in the top 300 worldwide, has spoken out on how athletes should be able to earn points for the prestigious Longines Rankings. Those rankings are currently led by World No.1 Kent Farrington of the United States, who won last night's World Cup qualifier in Toronto.

The full IJRC release is below, and it illustrates how the top riders are preoccupied with the idea of certain competitions allowing other riders to pay — however indirectly — to take part in CSI 5* shows. And as one of the IJRC’s missions is to, “put the riders’ views in matters of rules and regulations before the governing body [the International Federation for Equestrian Sports [FEI]]”, the group is staking out its position ahead of the world body’s meeting, from November 18-21 in the South American country.

Notably, the IJRC wants 5* rankings points to only be awarded (at most once a day) at competitions where a maximum of 20% of the riders are invited by the organizing committee (with the rest of the riders entered coming from the top rankings and home federation selections). The concern is that committee invitations can take the form of a kind of pay card, or ‘pay to play’ system, even though the FEI is technically opposed to that kind of payment possibility. And one of the biggest potential points of contention is with circuits like the Longines Global Champions Tour and parallel Global Champions League, which allow a certain number of lower-ranked riders into elite 5* competitions through the €2 million team entry fee.

The Jan Tops circuits reached a deal with the FEI earlier this year after a longstanding dispute, but their entries/invitation system does not correspond to the top-level riders’ demands, being more weighted to revenues — more riders invited by organizing committees, accepted through the expensive entry fee — than pure ranking eligibility. At the same time, the ability to pick up global rankings points is an important part of the appeal of such competitions for riders. But as the IJRC makes clear in its statement, the club holds the technical rights to the rankings and how they are calculated (even though they are sponsored by Longines and compiled by the FEI) and is determined to exercise those rights on this point. Read the full IJRC press release below. 

IJRC press release

"At its last General Assembly, held during the European Championships in Gothenburg, Saturday 26 of August, in front of more than 150 persons and with the presence of the FEI President Ingmar De Vos, the FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibanez  and others FEI managers, the International Jumping Riders Club (IJRC) voted unanimously a Board's proposal, as follows:

-  Limit the possibility to earn points one time per day at each show ( under discussion)
- Ranking points for 5* will be earned only in events that respect the following percentage of invitations:

60% of the riders entered in the show, in descending order of the rankings (including home riders) 
20% to the Home federation (NF) 
20% by the organising comity (OC)

The IJRC is responsible for the show jumping rankings rules (except the commercial rights), and the Club will accept exceptions only for the FEI Longines Nations Cups and the FEI Longines World Cup of show jumping, two historical circuits where the participants are selected by team chefs of the NF. 
No other exception will be made. Other shows, events counting for other circuits, will have to follow this rule of 20% invitations maximum.
The actual situation, with too many pay cards in some shows, could kill our sport and his best and most talented athletes and their olympic future. We have to consider that ranking points are important for the qualification to the Olympic Games, and we want that only the deserved riders can be qualified to Olympics.
Olympic champion Steve Guerdat (London 2012), also member of the Board, added: “Our goal is to achieve that we will support and distribute points only to shows which are presenting good sport and not shows that are open to athletes that have the possibility to pay to compete. Therefore we are doing our best to find a way and best solutions to achieve our goal, as we have to protect the real sport.”
IJRC holds the technical rights of the world rankings, but it was important to remind the resolutions of the riders during this period, before the FEI General Assembly, November 18 to 21, at Montevideo. 
We hope the National Federations will be able to quickly choose the right path for the benefit of the sport."

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