Gothenburg, Sweden—April 26
The ground jury for the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final Grand Prix has denied the protest filed April 25 by Swedish rider Patrik Kittel about flowers around the dressage arena. Some of the flowers were not around the ring for the arena familiarization period. Kittel's horse, Watermill Scandic HBC, spooked in the first extended trot movement in the Grand Prix test, and Kittel filed an official protest with the Gothenburg show office. Kittel finished 10th in the class.
The ground jury acknowledged that it had jurisdiction to decide the protest under Article 163.4 (4) of the FEI General Regulations concerning irregularities or incidents during a competition, or the results of a competition.
Kittel did not request the right to be heard by the full ground jury but met with the president of the ground jury, Gustaf Svalling, and explained that there were red flowers on top of the arena marking letters that had not been there during the final warm-up before the competition. Kittel believed that the red flowers had frightened his horse and caused it to perform poorly in the test.
The ground jury acknowledged that the red flowers were not present for the last pre-competition warm-up. However, Svalling had seen a photograph of the set-up of the final warm-up, which showed a green plant in the same position and at roughly the same height as the red flowers. The ground jury also stated that the red flowers were present from the start until the end of the dressage competition, and that all of the horses and riders had competed under the same conditions.
Additionally, the ground jury commented that Kittel was the 14th rider out of 17 and would have had the oppurtunity to observe the red flowers in the arena prior to competing. Finally, Kittel did not identify to the ground jury where in the FEI rules it is stated that the "full set-up" must be in place for the competition at the final warm-up, and the ground jury did not find any such rule in the FEI regulations.
As a result, the ground jury denied the protest in its entirety. However, it also acknowledged the potential disappointment for riders who relied on the set-up of the arena at the final warm-up, which turns out to be different from the final set-up for the competition. Accordingly, the ground jury has requested that the FEI investigates this concern and considers issuing further guidelines to organizers to ensure that that set-up of the final warm-up is as similar as possible to the final competition set-up.