Equestrianism: GB out of the top flight

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The Independent Online

International equestrian chiefs have dismissed an appeal against Great Britain's relegation from the Nations Cup showjumping super-league.

Britain, Belgium and Italy will all be demoted to the second-tier promotional league for 2010.

The British Equestrian Federation appealed a decision to relegate Britain, who finished tied eighth with Belgium, but above Italy, following the Meydan FEI 2009 Nations Cup series.

The International Equestrian Federation originally decided not to relegate Britain and Belgium after confusion over criteria used to separate teams tied in the relegation positions.

But then the FEI reversed its decision and announced Britain and Belgium should go down after all, prompting the furious BEF's appeal.

The BEF now has 30 days to decide on an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which Press Association Sport understands is likely.

The BEF said it was "very disappointed" with today's developments.

"Following the FEI's announcement that both Great Britain and Belgium, as well as Italy, would be relegated from the 2010 FEI top-level Nations Cup, the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) and British Showjumping did not accept that decision," said the BEF, in a statement.

"They defended Britain's place in the league via an appeal to the FEI tribunal.

"We have today been informed that the tribunal has declined the appeal.

"We are very disappointed by this and need to consider the decision of the FEI tribunal in detail before deciding our next move.

"We will also consult our stakeholders prior to making a final decision.

"The BEF has 30 days in which to confirm whether they will carry on the appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport."

If Great Britain end up in promotional league competitions this year, it will be a setback in terms of building towards the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky during September and October.

The Nations Cup provides regular team competition exposure against top countries like France, Germany and the USA, and would leave a considerable void in the British showjumping calendar.

While Britain would be expected to secure promotion back into the top flight at the first attempt, the loss of Nations Cup status is a blow in regard to WEG preparations and, to a lesser extent, London 2012.