Sapphire, the horse ridden by McLain Ward (USA), has been eliminated from the second round of the FEI World Cup™ Final last night (16 April) and disqualified from the rest of the event following a positive hypersensitivity test. The horse was selected for thermography testing on its legs yesterday and US Team Vet Dr Tim Ober was notified in the late afternoon that the horse would be tested at 7.30pm (CEST).
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, Dr Farrington informed Dr 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, 17 April in the presence of the President of the Ground Jury, Rene Billardon (FRA), Dr Ober, the two grooms and Lizzie Chesson from the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF). Dr Paul Farrington, Foreign Veterinary Delegate Dr Emile 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.
The FEI Foreign Veterinary Delegate Dr Welling immediately informed the President of the Ground Jury, who notified the rider (the Person Responsible) that the horse was eliminated from the competition and disqualified from the rest of the event. Dr Farrington stressed that there was no indication or evidence of any malpractice by McLain Ward or any member of the team.
Under the FEI General Regulations (Art. 159.6.2, 159.6.4), there is no appeal against the decision of the Ground Jury to eliminate or disqualify a horse from an event for abnormal sensitivity.