Finnish Olympic Team Selection for 2024 Paris Troubled By Issues with FEI Ownership Deadline

Fri, 07/05/2024 - 19:15
Henri Ruoste and Tiffany's Diamond at the 2024 CDI Hagen in June :: Photo © Astrid Appels

The Finnish equestrian federation is one of the last to announce its team for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris as the federation has been embroiled in issues concerning the FEI Ownership of Stella Hagelstam's horse.

Finland sent their nominative entry list to the FEI of the potential team riders on 24 June, but never officially named the actual team riders. However, on 1 July two riders were definitively confirmed: Henri Ruoste (with Tiffanys Diamond) and Emma Kanerva (Greek Air).

The federation has gone totally mum on who the third team member and the reserve are.

Stella Hagelstam

Mid June the federation inofficially told Stella Hagelstam that she would be the third team rider, but the federation had to fully back-paddle on its promise.

The FEI passport of Stella's  9-year old KWPN bred Kiss Me (by Johnson x Sandro Hit) was only registered on 12 March 2024, well after the FEI Olympic ownership deadline of 15 January 2024. This makes the horse ineligible for Olympic team selection.

Stella started her Olympic campaign in March and competed the horse at CDI's in Ypaja, Kristiansand, Aalborg, Aachen, Hagen and Jardy. At no point did her federation inform her that her passport was not in order and that the Olympics were out of the question.

The Finnish Olympic team is selected by the Finnish Dressage Selection Committee together with the Finnish Olympic Committee. The Finnish NF's board confirms the selection committee's proposal. The Dressage Committee includes Marko Björs, Tanja Takkula, Jenny Eriksson and Jutta Koivula.

A Dream Destroyed

Stella Hagelstam on Kiss Me at the 2024 CDI Hagen
Only after the nominative entry deadline, Hagelstam found out the harsh truth.

"The past week has been a living nightmare," Stella stated. "After finally being appointed team member of the Finnish Olympic Dressage Team I got a shocking phone call. The FEI denied my horse Kiss Me’s entry to the Olympics."

She continued, "I have owned Kiss Me since she was 3 years old. However we only registered her to FEI in March when she was about to start her first international show and I got the go ahead to switch horses. Sadly I wasn’t aware or informed about this registration rule."

Hagelstam explained, "I still find it hard to believe that a thing that has nothing to do with the sport itself could destroy a dream I have had all my life. We have tried absolutely everything but the rules are rules and nothing can apparently be done."

Due Diligence

This is not a first time that a rider lost the opportunity to compete a horse at the Olympics because of the FEI ownership rule.

The previous high profile case in dressage, which was highly publicized in equestrian media world wide, was Dinja van Liere's in 2021 when her top horse Hermes turned out to be not registered to the Dutch nationality. That same year also Italian Tatiana Miloserdova saw her Olympic dream go up in smoke as her horse was not properly registered before the 15 January deadline. 

Joanna Robinson on Glamouraline
The appeal the Dutch owner lodged with CAS was turned down. The FEI has very clear rules about FEI ownership and it's the rider's responsibility to do due diligence as well as each federation's to keep its members informed.

Who Are the Finnish Number Three and Four?

Only two other Finnish combinations have been entered on the nominative entry list that can make the third Finnish team member and reserve.

They are Joanna Robinson (Glamouraline) and Elisabet Ehrnrooth (Daytano). Unconfirmed reports state that Robinson is the team member and Ehrnrooth reserve. 

Multiple emails to to the Finnish federation and its international sport manager Jutta Koivula about Hagelstam's appeal or the team constitution have gone unanswered. 

Photos © Astrid Appels

Related Links
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2024 Olympic Games
Dinja van Liere's Hermes Not Eligible for Dutch Olympic Team Selection
Miloserdova Not Eligible For Italian Olympic Ticket due to Wrong Owner Nationality