Task force named in push for “level playing field” in endurance

ESNZ CEO Jim Ellis
ESNZ CEO Jim Ellis

The task force set up to develop practical solutions to solve the problems within endurance includes the head of Equestrian Sports New Zealand, Jim Ellis.

The task force, announced this week by the FEI, has been asked to develop practical solutions to ensure horse welfare and a level playing field at endurance events globally.

It will also look at deploying modern technology in a bid for equality and integrity in all endurance competitions.

The FEI says it is hopeful that some of the solutions offered by the task force will be ready for implementation in time for the endurance competition at the FEI Alltech World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France, in August.

The world of endurance has been split amid concerns over the level of doping infractions, welfare issues, and what some consider to be a cavalier approach to the rules shown by some officials and competitors in several Middle Eastern competitions within the FEI’s Group VII.

The task force was announced amid growing concerns that the work of the Endurance Strategy Planning Group might not be enough to bring about change. A round of consultation in Lausanne, Switzerland, in February did not attract any formal representatives from Group VII nations.

As part of its remit, the task force will review several initiatives that can offer a workable solution for varying terrains and climatic conditions to ensure that they can be implemented globally.

The task force will be chaired by FEI Secretary General Ingmar De Vos. The other members are FEI Endurance Committee chairman Brian Sheahan (Australia); the deputy general manager of the Dubai Equestrian Club, Mohammed Essa Al Adhab; legal adviser Andrew Holmes; racing and equestrian-sports consultant Alain Storme; and Ellis.

FEI Secretary General Ingmar De Vos
FEI Secretary General Ingmar De Vos, who will chair the new endurance task force.

Experts from sports management consultancy IMG will also be included among the core members. The FEI said the company had extensive experience in reviewing and modernising competition structures in other sports.

FEI first vice-president John McEwen and members of the FEI Veterinary Committee will be available in an advisory capacity, and the task force has a mandate to engage any other experts as needed.

De Vos said: “The Endurance Task Force will be looking at systems that will ensure horse welfare and a level playing field, and the use of modern technology is a key component of that.

“While it is of course important that we consider the financial systems of our national federations, we cannot compromise on quality.

“We have to find the formula to ensure that this technology is financially available to all our national federations, including the developing nations, but it is vital that we have the best technological solutions available to ensure enforcement of and compliance with our rules.”

The task force’s first meeting will be in Lausanne, Switzerland, on April 27, the day before the start of the two-day FEI Sports Forum.

The task force will be funded in a sponsorship deal with the Meydan racing enterprise of Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Meydan is the regulator of several equine-related sports in Dubai.

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