A REPEAT of their 2015 victory in the Aga Khan competition at this year’s Dublin Horse Show on July 22nd could see Ireland top their division of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup League, writes Mike Dunne.
Although currently only in sixth place in their ten-team Europe Division 1 grouping, Ireland in reality are in better shape because they are ‘owed’ an allocation of points from a cancelled event in Lummen early in the season, which will only be added on when the last nations cup league event takes place at Hickstead a week after Dublin.
The format of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup League is somewhat complex and it requires quite an amount of analysis to keep tabs on how each nation is faring as the season progresses, with the cancelled Lummen meeting adding another dimension to the calculations.
Five teams were affected by the Lummen event, and those five will be allocated points instead based on their average performances in their other league fixtures.
WHAT A DUBLIN VICTORY WOULD MEAN
What can be established at this point is that victory in the Aga Khan would see Ireland top the league table, and the only team that could then finish above them would be Switzerland, who would have to win at Hickstead a week later to knock the Irish off the top spot.
If Ireland do win in Dublin, the league table will not at that point show Ireland on top, because their Lummen allocation will not be added until Hickstead is completed, but it would be as good as in the bank, and as long as the Swiss don’t win Hickstead, the final table will show Ireland in first place.
BIDDING FOR THE FINAL
While winning the Aga Khan is the goal for Ireland, if that can’t be achieved there is another target to be aimed at in the Nations Cup competition in Dublin – qualification for this year’s Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Final, which takes place in Barcelona in September, and also features qualifiers from other divisions of the league worldwide.
To get there, Ireland must finish in the top seven of their 10-team Europe Division 1, and doing so would also ensure the retention of their Europe Division 1 status for next year.
That target has almost been achieved already – a top three finish in the Aga Khan would guarantee it, but it will probably require much less than that.
In fact It would almost take a last place finish or an elimination in Dublin for Ireland not to progress to Barcelona. Finishing equal to, or better than, Italy’s placing in the Aga Khan would also clinch it, but again, that may not be essential.
Of course lifting the Aga Khan is the ultimate result from which all the other benefits would follow – qualification for Barcelona, retention of elite Europe Division 1 status, and (as long as the Swiss don’t win Hickstead) the prestige of being Europe Division 1 league champions. Given that team manager Robert Splaine has all his aces available, Ireland can dream of another glory day on Friday July 22nd at the Dublin Horse Show.
HOW THE LEAGUE WORKS
The newer format of the league over the past few years has been challenging for equestrian fans to follow, and while the FEI regards the format as a great success, it requires some analysis to see how each nation is faring as the season progresses.
It would be wrong to say that the format is confusing, but it is complex, and It has been made more so this year by the Lummen cancellation.
There are ten teams in Europe Division 1 (Ireland, Great Britain, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Czech Republic and Germany) and there are eight venues (rounds) in the league (Lummen, La Baule, Rome, St. Gallen, Rotterdam, Falsterbo, Dublin and Hickstead).
Each team competes for points at four pre-designated venues, and while they may compete at other venues in the series as well, they only earn league points at the specified four events, which vary from country to country. Therefore at any point in the season, the league standings have to be evaluated in the light of how many points-scoring rounds each nation has contested.
This year the picture has been complicated further by the Lummen cancellation. The FEI rule which then came into play is that the teams due to compete for points at Lummen would instead be allocated an average of the points gained at their other scoring events.
Assuming that all the nations concerned complete their fixtures, they would be entitled to a Lummen allocation of one-third of the points accumulated at their other three qualifying venues. Ireland, Germany, Czech Republic, Belgium and Italy are the teams for whom Lummen was to have been a points-scoring venue and whose current league points will be boosted when the allocation is factored in.
According to the FEI rule the Lummen allocation will only be added when the last event at Hickstead has been completed.