Positive Hypersensitivity Test Eliminates Sapphire from FEI World Cup Final

The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) reported that Sapphire, the horse ridden by McLain Ward (USA), has been eliminated from the second round of the FEI World Cup Final in Geneva, Switzerland, and disqualified from the rest of the event following a positive hypersensitivity test. The horse was selected for thermography testing on its legs Friday, April 16.

The test involved the use of a thermography camera and a clinical examination of the legs, which was carried out by FEI appointed veterinarian Dr. Paul Farrington and Dr. Emile Welling, the Foreign Veterinary Delegate. Following the examination, Farrington informed US Team Vet Dr. Tim Ober and the two grooms that were present at the test that the horse was showing sensitivity in its left foreleg but that it was fit to compete at that time.

McLain Ward and Sapphire went on to finish second in the class to take over the lead in the overall standings, but the FEI made a decision to re-examine the horse post-competition, using both thermography and clinical examination. The second test was carried out at 12.30am on Saturday, April 17, in the presence of the President of the Ground Jury, Rene Billardon (FRA), Ober, the two grooms, and Lizzie Chesson from the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF). Farrington, Welling (BEL), and Dr. Markus Mueller (SUI) each re-examined the horse and declared that, due to the level of hypersensitivity, it was unfit to take any further part in the competition.

Welling immediately informed the President of the Ground Jury, who notified the rider that the horse was eliminated from the competition and disqualified from the rest of the event. Farrington stressed that there was no indication or evidence of any malpractice by McLain Ward or any member of the team.

An urgent appeal/protest was lodged this morning, April 18, by the USEF, McLain Ward, and Ober against the disqualification of Sapphire from the FEI World Cup Final. The FEI Tribunal heard the case for emergency relief to allow the horse to compete today. Following the hearing, the FEI Tribunal Chair Ken Lalo (ISR) denied the request for emergency relief on the grounds that the FEI Tribunal did not have jurisdiction to overturn the Ground Jury's decision. This means that Sapphire remains disqualified from today's final round of the FEI World Cup.

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