When the Belgian Equestrian Federation named their team for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games on Aug. 18, they named Pieter Devos on Dream of India Greenfield, Jos Lansink on Ensor de Litrange LXII, Olivier Philippaerts on Cabrio de Heffinck, Gregory Wathelet on Conrad de Hus and alternate Jos Verlooy on Domino.
But on Aug. 21, 20-year-old rider Constant van Paesschen and Alain Van Campenhoudt, the owner of the Citizenguard horses, filed legal action protesting van Paesschen’s omission from the team.
Van Paesschen and Citizenguard Toscan de Sainte Hermelle jumped a double clear performance in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup in Rome in May and have been well-placed in five-star grand prix classes.
On Aug. 21, the Belgian Court for Arbitration of Sport released their decision in van Paesschen’s favor, indicating that he should be included on the team.
The Belgian federation, however, announced on Aug. 22 that it chose to disregard the BCAS ruling and keep the original team as named, without van Paesschen. “This decision was taken unanimously, after deliberation by the national jumping commission, which today has come together by emergency,” said the Belgian federation’s statement.
The statement continued that it was not possible for it to comply with the BCAS ruling, since in doing so it would have to remove without justification a horse/rider combination named to the team. “The [Belgian federation] makes this decision in the interests of the sport and with a view to complying with the commitments entered into with the riders [on] the selected team,” the statement read.
Van Paesschen's father, Stanny van Paesschen, released a press statement on Aug. 23 indicating that the Belgian federation would be fined 5,000 Euro for their decision to disregard the BCAS decision.
A statement released on Aug. 25 clarified the Belgian federation's position. "The Federation wishes to not be set above the law, but will take any further legal action where necessary to continue to defend, through thick and thin, their selection of the team. We want to set an example for other sports and sports federations. General principle that a federation would be forced to adapt their own selection of teams through legal filings defies all imagination and would be a failure for any sport at this level.
"In addition, the Federation wishes to emphasize that the coaches weighed the options and have proposed the proper team in their final decision again. That they are supported in this by the jumping committee is unanimous. This team was created by selecting on the basis of past performance, past experience in major championships, freshness and fitness of horses and prospects for the near future. These are criteria that were also used by all the other coaches in the past and their proven success. Never have and never will community motives have an influence on a selection, even though some claim the opposite.
"All riders, Constant Van Paesschen included, have a charter which includes an integrity clause, a clause information and a code of ethics for him and his entourage endorsed. The events of the past months are in stark contrast with the commitments made in the charter," the Belgian federation's statement continued.
Van Paesschen is the son of Stanny van Paesschen, who represented Belgium in three Olympic Games and a World Equestrian Games and also coached the Saudi Arabian team. He runs a training, selling and breeding business outside of Brussels. Constant won the Belgian Young Rider championship in 2011.
Constant also has had the ride on Citizenguard Cadjanine Z since April. Rodrigo Pessoa won the $280,000 World Cup Qualifier at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival (Fla.) in March, but then Pessoa and owner van Campenhoudt parted ways and the mare went to Constant’s string.
Constant competed Citizenguard Cadjanine on the Global Champions Tour circuit this summer, most recently at the London fixture on Aug. 14-17. But Citizen Cadjanine is on the list of definite entires for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games with Amre Hamcho, a rider for the Syrian Arab Republic. Hamcho is competing Cadjanine at a CSI*** show in Verbier, Switzerland on Aug. 20-24 as his first show with the mare.