2018 was a big year, to say the least, and it was great! We have once again shown that, together, everything is possible. The equestrian community is growing stronger, and our fan base is increasingly diversifying as we continue to promote our seven unique disciplines through cutting-edge formats across the globe. This is the fruit of a collective effort. Each and every stakeholder community plays an essential role in making our sport the best it can be. I have revisited some of the highlights of 2018 and I hope you will enjoy looking back on what has been a challenging but memorable year for our sport.
BY SABRINA IBÁÑEZ, FEI SECRETARY GENERAL & PRESIDENT OF THE ASSOCIATION OF PARALYMPIC SPORTS ORGANISATIONS
At a glance…
- Four fabulous FEI World Cup™ Finals
- Japan shines at the Asian Games
- Challenges and successes at the FEI World Equestrian Games™
- Belgium triumphs at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final
- 2018 – a big year for the next generation of equestrian superstars
The FEI World Cup™ Finals dominated the first quarter of the year, with Australia’s Boyd Exell proving his exceptional talent by claiming the FEI Driving World Cup™ title for the fifth time in Bordeaux (FRA) in February. The FEI Vaulting World Cup™ titles were up next, with the Germans unstoppable on home turf in Dortmund, starting with Kristina Boe claiming the individual female title, finally reaching the top step of the podium. Meanwhile, her compatriot Jannis Drewell was crowned individual male champion and the successful partnership of Theresa-Sophie Bresch and Torben Jacobs claimed the Pas de Deux.
Paris, France was the final deciding event for the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ and FEI Dressage World Cup™ series, where Beezie Madden (USA) outshone the world’s best partnerships to claim the FEI Jumping World Cup™ trophy for the second time in her career on her wonderful stallion Breitling LS. Defending champion Isabell Werth summoned all her skill and experience to claim the FEI Dressage World Cup™ trophy for the fourth time in her career, and for the second time with her wonderful mare Weihegold OLD.
The 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta (INA), the largest multi-discipline event in history, proved a tremendous testing ground for Asia’s equestrian community in the build-up to Tokyo 2020. Next Olympic and Paralympic host Japan were on good form, winning team gold in both Eventing and Dressage, individual gold in Eventing and individual silver in Jumping. Other gold medallists were Kuwait’s Ali Al Khorafi competing in Jumping under the FEI flag, Hong Kong’s Jacqueline Wing Ying Siu in Dressage, and Saudi Arabia in Team Jumping.
In Tryon, Germany’s Simone Blum carved her name into the record books when becoming the first woman in the 28-year history of the FEI World Equestrian Games™, and only the second athlete in the 65-year history of the FEI Jumping World Championship, to take the individual Jumping title. Other sporting highlights were the first jump-off at an FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Jumping – won by team USA; gold for Team USA in Driving; double gold for Great Britain in Eventing; and of course, the historic win by Team Netherlands in the Para Dressage Championship where they beat Great Britain, a feat which had never been achieved before at Paralympic, World or European level.
The FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 also represented the largest commercial airlift of horses ever undertaken, with 23 flights transporting 550 horses. Specialist horse transportation company Peden Bloodstock – working alongside The Dutta Corp – coordinated the highly complex logistics, with horses from six of the world’s seven continents flying into Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport in South Carolina and Miami, Florida.
An event of this scale and magnitude also presented an array of challenges, as did the adverse weather conditions. We sought solutions where possible and everyone, from the OC to the Officials and the FEI HQ representatives, worked extremely hard to minimise the impact on the sport. Nevertheless, the Endurance Championships had to be cancelled due to a collection of factors which were subsequently investigated and presented at the General Assembly, and we also had to cancel the Dressage Freestyle Championship due to the after-effects of Hurricane Florence.
Barely a handful of weeks after the FEI World Equestrian Games™, the world’s best Jumping nations gathered in Barcelona once again for the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final. Belgium, also known as the “Never Give Up Team”, won the Final followed by France and Ireland in second and third.
2018 was also a big sporting year for the rising stars of the equestrian world, with milestone events such as the Youth Africa Games in Alger, the FEI European Jumping, Dressage and Eventing Championships in Fontainebleau (FRA) for Juniors and Young Riders, as well as the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires (ARG), where Team North America – made up of Haiti, Honduras, Mexico Panama and the USA – rewrote history by winning gold for the first time, while Giacomo Casadei brought individual gold home to Italy.
With 4,464 events in 2018, the highlights mentioned above are just a glimpse of all the exciting sporting moments that took place. For more on your favourite discipline, go to the FEI World of Sport in this Annual Report and, of course, don’t forget to look at all our digital platforms and channels where we actively cover and promote an impressive array of events. Events are the lifeblood of our sport and without tremendous organisers, we would not have a platform to display our sport – so a big thank to all the Organising Committees and to all the Officials, industry specialists, volunteers, sponsors and media for their commitment and promotion of our sport.