April 16, 2010 -- The FEI is to freeze the Rolex Rankings points for jumping riders on maternity leave, starting with the April rankings issued on March 31. Under the new system, female riders will now lose only 50 percent of their Rolex Rankings points during their absence from competition while on maternity leave.
The new ruling means that former world No. 1 Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum moves up from 31st on the March Rolex Rankings to 20th following the reinstatement of 50 percent of her points. The German rider, who gave birth to her first child, Brianne Victoria Beerbaum, on February 27, has announced that she will not be defending her Rolex FEI World CupT title in Geneva next week.
"This is great news for all female jumping riders," Michaels-Beerbaum said. "It means that we can take time out from competition to have a baby and not lose all our Rolex Rankings points while we're off the circuit. It's a really proactive move by the FEI, and as far as I know, they are the first international governing body to do something like this."
Michaels-Beerbaum had her last international outing at the CSIO Spruce Meadows Masters in September 2009. She is planning a return to international competition at Hagen in Germany at the end of this month.
The Rolex green and gold armband, which is worn by the leading rider in the Rolex Rankings, remains with Switzerland's Pius Schwizer, who retains his world No. 1 spot for the third consecutive month.