A key moment in the evolution of Show Jumping: Dominique Mégret

Credit : Scoopdyga

Wednesday 13 December - 14h48 | Sébastien Roullier, translated by Ian Clayton

A key moment in the evolution of Show Jumping: Dominique Mégret

This past weekend, France’s Dominique Mégret was named president of the Jumping Owners Club. Owner of that country's Clarbec stud farm, which works with elite French rider Pénélope Leprevost, Mégret is taking over from compatriot Christian Baillet at what he sees as a pivotal time in the sport of Show Jumping. The new president is determined to actively participate in that evolution, and spoke with GrandPrix-Replay about his objectives.

 - A key moment in the evolution of Show Jumping: Dominique Mégret

GRANDPRIX-Replay: Did taking on this role as president of the owners club seem like a natural progression for you, given your previous experience with the organization?
Definitely. When I learned that Christian Baillet was stepping down, it felt natural to be a candidate for the job. I’ve been very involved in the Jumping Owners Club as a member of the executive committee, helping develop our political positions, contributing to policy analyses and taking part in our discussions with governing bodies like the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI). I think I can bring a bit of a different perspective, all the while conserving my strong passion. We are at a key moment in the evolution of our sport, and I don’t think we can stand in the way of that evolution. We have to try to understand it, analyze it, follow it, and above all find the right balance between the old world and the new world. 

All these new circuits [like the Longines Global Champions Tour —editor's note] have brought a lot to our sport; the money from them has indisputably helped riders and that’s a good thing. At the same time, money shouldn’t dictate everything and we have to maintain the fundamental values of Show Jumping. It's also necessary to be able to develop new riders. For us owners, the most important thing is to find a balance between the newer and older circuits. So I’ve given myself the following mission: I want the voices of owners to be heard and listened to. And when you represent an organization, you have to represent everyone and not just present your own personal point of view.

GPR.: How many members does the Jumping Owners Club have?  

D.M.: There are about 100 members, but that number is expected to grow. Just to make clear, I am talking about ‘pure’ owners, without counting horse dealers and riders who trade in horses. On the flipside, the Club represents owners from around the world, whether they’re from the United States, Asia, and Europe — even though most are based in Europe. We also represent owners of horses at different levels, from CSI 2* to CSI 5*, with their different realities and issues. We're very conscious of the need to develop horses and permit new riders to emerge, but that can’t just be done with money. It’s very important to not discourage young riders who are trying rise up to the elite levels. That’s a real challenge for us. 

GPR.: Isn’t that equally true for owners?  
D.M. : Yes of course, owners mustn't be discouraged either. Finding a balance is possible. We’re going to have to proceed carefully but getting there is our goal.

GPR.: In your view, is it a problem that a Frenchman is succeeding another Frenchman at the head of this international organization?  
DM : No, I don’t think so. After all, I was elected unanimously. And even if I am French, I don’t think of myself in that way in my work and my responsibilities. I understand the way other owners in other countries think. Article continues below.

“Follow the evolution of the equestrian world closely”

“Follow the evolution of the equestrian world closely” - A key moment in the evolution of Show Jumping: Dominique Mégret

Kevin Staut
Credit : Scoopdyga

GPR.: In the same vein, will the fact that [World No.3 Show Jumper] Kevin Staut, who is also French, has just been elected to the head of the International Jumping Riders Club (IJRC) facilitate the relationship between your two organizations?  
DM : No, I don’t think so — it’s a coincidence as these two elections aren’t connected. Obviously the owners club feels that it has to have a good relationship with the FEI in order to have constructive discussions. This is not about a power balance — for me, it is about collaboration. And of course, that has to be done in close collaboration with the IJRC. But the fact that their president is French or not doesn’t change the discussion, as in any case we have regular meetings.

We agree on a lot of issues, but not on everything. In addition, the owners club also has to communicate with organizers as there are subjects we have to work on with them as well. We don’t have any legal power to impose our views, so we have to rely on our convictions and the power of our arguments. A memorandum of understanding between the Club and the FEI gives us the possibility of meeting [with them], and potentially an opportunity to sit in on meetings of the FEI's Show Jumping committee as an auditor.

GPR.: What are your priorities and objectives over the next few months?
D.M.: The priority of our executive committee is that our voice be heard. I’m not saying that that wasn’t the case previously, but we are going to work on our communication. That includes through our discussions with different bodies, notably the FEI, which has a fundamental place in the equestrian sports landscape. My second priority, which goes hand-in-hand with the first, is to follow the evolution of the equestrian world closely. The world of competition has been changing very quickly in recent years, and those changes are accelerating.

So we will have to find a balance between CSIOs, classic CSIs and newer series. Some people would like for the 60-20-20 invitation system [with a majority of places going to ranked riders and not paying participants] be applied to all competitions, including the new circuits. Obviously, that would solve the problems but I’m not sure it is going to happen soon. I have to point out also that some owners may have a different vision of things. But collectively as owners, we all agree that the well-being of horses has to be safeguarded as the sport is becoming more and more difficult for them.

GPR.: Where are things at with the debate about the global rider rankings [how they are calculated, which classes and competitions should count, etc.]? 
D.M.: There’s a working group that has been created made up of riders and the FEI, which is pretty logical as those are the two groups directly concerned. We asked the FEI for the right to sit in on those discussions as an observer but were refused. But in some ways, this issue has an impact on horses. And one point where we have a different view from some riders is that we feel the Nations Cups should be better endowed in terms of prize money.  Today, riders can earn less points for the global rankings when they win a Nations Cup Grand Prix than they do winning a speed class in a well-endowed competition. I find that somewhat unfortunate and I think the riders are going to weigh in on this. Nevertheless, the fundamental issue remains the 60-20-20 invitation system.

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