The FEI Tribunal, in a decision dated 8 January 2024 addressed an appeal lodged by the Royal Spanish Equestrian Federation against a decision made by the ground jury during the Endurance World Championship for Young Riders in France. The dispute arose from a protest relating to the elimination of a horse, Eryvan, ridden by Clara Latorre Sala following an incident during the competition.
The rider fell from her horse at a guarded road crossing, leading to her horse bolting and becoming lost. The horse was later found 2 hours later and was inspected by a vet and deemed fit to compete. The Ground Jury proposed that the rider continue from the point of the fall, but the rider’s team suggested restarting from the vet gate (a later point on the course, where the horse had been taken to by those who found it). The Ground Jury’s proposal was not accepted and the horse was therefore eliminated.
The Spanish team appealed the decision. They argued that the removal of the horse without their consent contravened rules regarding the responsibilities of the person responsible for the horse.
The key preliminary issue for the FEI to decide was whether it was able to consider the appeal, or whether it was a “Field of Play” decision, which was not appealable according to the FEI’s General Regulations. The Tribunal concluded that this was a clear Field of Play decision, and the Spanish team’s request for financial compensation was therefore denied.
Albeit that this case turns on a very unusual set of facts, it is a reminder that if the applicable regulations preclude a right of appeal, a Tribunal is unlikely to interfere with the decision of a ground jury or steward. These regulations are drafted keeping in mind the special perspective, insight and experience which those responsible for making such rulings at competitions hold.
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