‘Hell no’ turns into ‘sure please’ on eventing flag rule debate
The urge for food amongst eventing’s leaders to reopen the flag rule debate has gone from “hell no” to “sure please” after a possible breakthrough in Sweden.
Eventing’s flag guidelines are a spiky topic, in regards to the gray space the place a mix knocks a flag on a cross-country fence. This leads to typically prolonged selections as to whether or not they have been clear (no penalties), ran out (20 penalties), or the horse’s level of shoulder was outdoors the extremities of the impediment, however its hindquarters jumped the peak of the strong half (15 penalties).
By its nature, the flag rule often comes into play at slender or nook fences and has had many variations in definition and penalties through the years.
Vet and FEI threat administration steering group member Staffan Lidbeck offered the rule, which has been in place in nationwide competitors in Sweden since 2020, on the FEI eventing threat administration discussion board.
Flags are connected to fences utilizing rubber bands and steel cramps, and the higher attachment may be dislodged. Mr Lidbeck harassed that it isn’t essential for flags to be connected in precisely the identical method from fixture to fixture, however the best way fences are flagged should be constant for everybody competing at that occasion.
Mixtures mechanically obtain seven penalties when a flag loses its higher attachment, and 20 penalties for a run-out or when a horse jumps the fence with no a part of his hindquarters going by means of the flag.
“We have now to make the cross-country extra influential. There are too many clear rounds and it is a secure strategy to make the cross-country take a look at extra influential,” he stated, including that that is maybe not the ultimate reply, however it’s working in Sweden. “It’ll additionally improve extra exact and balanced driving and thus enhance security. It’ll make life simpler for officers and likewise for riders.”
He stated the Swedish federation selected seven penalties because it means combos can have two flags and nonetheless end with a qualifying rating, however not three.
However it has not been examined at greater ranges, as all fixtures at three-star (intermediate) and above in Sweden are FEI occasions.
Swedish eventing technical delegate and course-designer Lars Christensson stated: “I believe it has made riders respect fences extra, they usually journey extra accurately. We will likely be going the suitable method if we introduce this within the sport.”
Rider Clayton Fredericks stated: “I believe sure, there’s a place for this. I might agree that the penalties needs to be low. It’s clear and concise. There’s most likely nonetheless going to be some dialogue if it’s a marginal slide-off. We would like everybody to be aiming for that good journey, we all know nobody ever will get that, however that’s the aim.”
Cleonice Attolico Guglielmi stated that as a floor jury member, she “actually likes this rule”.
“I believe it’s going to make riders journey extra precisely. It’s going to make them journey combos safely,” she stated.
Eventing Riders Affiliation president Bruce Haskell stated: “The query we actually need to ask earlier than we make any adjustments is what’s mistaken with the present rule and what’s the perceived want to alter?”
He added that everybody needs a sport that makes fast selections – having a debate hours after a rider’s spherical at an Olympics as to whether or not they had penalties or not is “unacceptable” – and any adjustments need to be balanced selections.
Course-designer and technical delegate Alec Lochore questioned whether or not there can be a threat it could push riders additional in direction of the broader a part of corners.
Course-designer Mike Etherington-Smith stated he personally doesn’t like the concept, however understands the logic and that something that may get outcomes out extra rapidly on the finish of the day is essential.
He learn out notes from a dialogue earlier than Christmas with high riders, coaches and course-designers about this and stated: “It’s not going to essentially scale back a few of the discussions that floor juries need to have on the finish of the day, about whether or not one thing was a run-out or not.
“It’s not going to be one remedy to repair all these items. However hopefully a few of the discussions will likely be taken off the desk.”
FEI eventing committee chairman David O’Connor requested the discussion board if a gaggle needs to be put collectively to suggest this rule in close to future, and was met with a powerful present of palms from the room.
“That may be a shift, as a result of 4 years in the past that was ‘no and hell no’,” he stated. “There’s a shift in considering of the path the game goes, and that’s why we’re right here.”
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