There’s always a quiet buzz this time of year as the next season looms closer. With Rolex in the middle of spring, many potential competitors will get the ball rolling in Florida, Aiken or California. For these riders, the anticipation of competing at the pinnacle of the sport will make it more difficult to relax throughout the holiday season.
Believe it or not, the qualifications that are required to go to a four star are fairly simple. The FEI requires three qualifiers, while the USEF only tacks on the requirement that one of the qualifiers must have occurred in the past 12 months. This article applies to uncategorized riders only.
As always, we will be referring to the USEF Eventing Rules and the FEI Rules for Eventing. To refresh everyone’s memory, Minimum Eligibility Requirements (MER) are still in effect. National Qualifying Results (NQR) are not needed for CCI4* qualifications. Click here to read the first post in this series, which looks at MER and NQR in depth.
To achieve an MER at a given show, you must:
- Score 75.0 or below in dressage
- No jump penalties on cross country
- No more than 90 seconds over optimum time on cross country, which equates to 36.0 time penalties
- Four rails or less in show jumping
Important things to remember when thinking about qualifications:
- MER requirements must be obtained as a pair.
- One qualifying result (MER) must be obtained within 12 months of the show you are entering.
- One cross country jump penalty may appear in one of the MER results only if multiple MER qualifications are required.
- Option One:
- Two MER at CIC3*, achieved as a pair.
- One MER at CCI3*, achieved as a pair.
- Option Two:
- One MER at CIC3*, achieved as a pair.
- Two MER at CCI3*, achieved as a pair.
- One of the three MER may have cross country XC jump penalties.
- One of the three qualifications achieved within 12 months.
Currently, there are only four CCI3* shows in North America, with Jersey Fresh and Bromont in the spring and Fair Hill and Galway Downs in the fall. A fifth is slated to start running in July next year at Rebecca Farm.
As a result, pairs tend to make the move up to Advanced either in the winter season or the summer months with intentions to make a spring or fall CCI3*. Those who move up in the winter have the advantage of multiple chances to gain an MER at CCI3*.
They can generally gain their CCI4* qualifications through Option One by the end of the spring season, with a second chance at gaining MERs in the fall. For those who move up in the summer, Option One is the only route to qualification, and it can be tight to complete all of the qualifiers in one season.
One unique thing about North America is that it is not currently possible to move up to Advanced and compete at Rolex in the same year. Since Rolex is earlier in the schedule than any North American CCI3*, pairs must obtain their CCI3* MER the preceding calendar year. Therefore, at the end of 2014, we already know who is definitely qualified, who might become qualified and who will need to wait another year for their first CCI4* attempt.
For those who may become qualified, CIC3* are available in the spring, and for any FEI event, a CIC qualification must be obtained 10 days before the start of cross country day. This essentially means you can obtain a CIC MER up to two weeks prior to the show you need it for, but not one week prior. The only CIC3* in the U.S. the week before Rolex is the spring Fair Hill event. A rider would not be able to obtain a final MER at this CIC3* because of the time limitation.
The USEF requirement that one of the qualifications must be met within a year of the competition date adds another element to the mix. While this is no problem for those newly qualified, it can pose a dilemma for riders who entered Rolex the previous year, did not obtain an MER and perhaps gave their horses the fall off from FEI competition. They will need to obtain an MER at a CIC3* the following spring prior to Rolex. Luckily, Rolex itself can be used for the year requirement, so long as it was completed with an MER.
For 2015, there are currently 78 North American based horses qualified for a CCI4*. An additional 14 horses need a CIC3* in the spring to complete their qualifications, while 39 more will have to complete an additional CIC3* in order to be within the 12 months requirement.
We will not see all 131 pairs come down the centerline at the Kentucky Horse Park. Some of the pairs will sit out due to illness or injury to horse or rider. Some will fail to meet the final qualifying requirements. Others will simply decide to remain at the three-star level for another year. However, simply qualifying is a huge accomplishment, and there’s always 2016.