Showjumping’s Nations Cup is going global under a new name and with a €16m sponsorship package.
The inaugural leg of the new series running under the Furusiyya banner takes place at Al Ain, Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, February 21.
The world has been split into six regions for the series, which was announced during the FEI General Assembly in Istanbul, Turkey last November. A new four-year, €16m sponsorship package from the Saudi Equestrian Fund marked an important turning-point for the long-running series as it expands from its traditionally European-oriented base to embrace the rest of the world. As part of the new 10-year partnership with Longines, the Swiss watchmaker will be the Official Timekeeper for the entire Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup series.
This is a pivotal moment for the sport which was described by FEI President Princess Haya as “the jewel in the crown” of the international governing body during the centennial of team jumping in 2009. Throughout the long and distinguished history of the FEI Nations Cup, a great spirit of warmth and camaraderie has been matched only by the fierce pride and passion of the riders who have joined forces to represent their countries in the annual battle for international team supremacy.
Princess Haya said at the time, “it is really wonderful news for equestrian sport and for the future of the FEI Nations Cup, now the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup. The Arabic word Furusiyya encompasses horsemanship, equestrian skills and knowledge, as well as chivalry. It perfectly captures the key elements of our wonderful sport and our unique relationship with the horse. I am confident that we now have the right format to put the FEI Nations Cup series right back where it belongs, at the heart of the international calendar”.
HH Prince Faisal Bin Abdullah Bin Muhammad Al Saud, a former FEI Bureau member and Chairman of the Saudi Equestrian Fund board of trustees, added that “Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup will herald a new dawn in the 100-year old history of this series”.
Under the new rules, the world has been divided into six regions from which teams will qualify for the Final. Europe has been sub-divided into two divisions, and the eight FEI Nations Cup Top League venues from the 2012 series – La Baule (FRA), Rome (ITA), St Gallen (SUI), Aachen (GER), Falsterbo (SWE), Rotterdam (NED), Hickstead (GBR) and Dublin (IRL) – will each host a qualifying leg for Europe Division 1.
The other regions are North and Central America and the Caribbean Islands; South America; Middle East; Asia/Australasia; and Africa. In regions where there are no qualifiers, teams will qualify for the Final according to the sum of points of their four highest-placed riders in the Longines Rankings two months before the final.
Strategic planning will be key to success, and the top four nations from the 2012 Top League – Germany, France, Ireland and Great Britain – were given first option to choose the venues at which they will aim to accumulate points, while the remaining four countries will be allocated their events by the FEI. This increases the pressure at each outing, but the intention is to safeguard the welfare of horses by limiting their exposure to top-class competition during the hectic calendar of international activity while also producing edge-of-the-seat excitement at each event.
In this inaugural season, 22 events will take place during the series before the final at the end of September. The venue is to be allocated shortly. A total of 18 teams will be eligible to compete at the final, with nine from Europe, two each from North & Central America & the Caribbean, South America, Middle East and Asia/Australasia, and one from Africa. If the host nation does not qualify for the final, they will still be permitted to compete, bringing the number of teams to 19.
At the final there will be three competitions, and all teams start in the opening one-round class which is not against the clock. The top eight teams from this competition will go through to the third and final competition, while the remainder will compete in the Consolation class which will be held before the final competition.
All nations start on a zero score on the last day, and four riders from each team will compete in the first round. If there is a tie for first place after this first round, then three riders from each team will go through to a jump-off against the clock, guaranteeing a tense and thrilling finale to decide the first Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping champions.
FEI TV will broadcast coverage of at least 13 of the 22 competitions and the Final. throughout the season. Broadcasts will begin with the opening leg at Al Ain next week where teams from Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and the UAE are expected to line out. The transmission schedule will be announced shortly.
The calendar for the 2013 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup season is as follows:
Al Ain (UAE) CSIO 5* – 21 February – Middle East;
Wellington (USA) CSIO 4* – 1 March – North America, Central America and Caribbean;
Lummen (BEL) CSIO 4* – 5 May – Europe Division 2;
Linz (AUT) CSIO 3* – 5 May – Europe Division 2;
Drammen (NOR) CSIO 3* – 10 May – Europe Division 2;
La Baule (FRA) CSIO 5* – 17 May – Europe Division 1;
Rome (ITA) CSIO 5* – 24 May – Europe Division 1;
Copenhagen (DEN) CSIO 4* – 24 May – Europe Division 2;
St Gallen (SUI) CSIO 5* – 31 May – Europe Division 1;
Lisbon (POR) CSIO 3* – 7 June – Europe Division 2;
Sopot (POL) CSIO 3* – 14 June – Europe Division 2;
Spruce Meadows (CAN) CSIO 5* – 14 June – North America, Central America and Caribbean;
Rotterdam (NED) CSIO 5* – 21 June – Europe Division 1;
Aachen (GER) CSIO 5* – 27 June – Europe Division 1;
Falsterbo (SWE) CSIO 5* – 12 July – Europe Division 1;
Budapest (HUN) CSIO 3* – 12 July – Europe Division 2;
Hickstead (GBR) CSIO 5* – 2 August – Europe Division 1;
Bratislava (SVK) CSIO 3* – 2 August – Europe Division 2;
Dublin (IRL) CSIO 5* – 9 August – Europe Division 1;
Gijon (ESP) CSIO 5* – 30 August – Europe Division 2;
San Marino, Arezzo (ITA) CSIO 3* – 6 September – Europe Division 2;
Kiev (UKR) CSIO 5* – 13 September – Europe Division 2;
FINAL: venue to be confirmed, 26-29 September.
“Furusiyya” (Arabic: فروسيه): this single Arabic word conveys so much, embracing the idea of horsemanship, chivalry, and equestrian knowledge in general. The term comes from faris, or horseman, and faras, a horse.