Oslo, Norway, Feb. 7, 2015. The Federation Internationale des Gentlemen Riders et des Cavalieres (Fegentri) elected prominent local horseman Mr. Donald Yovanovich to the Board of Directors of the Federation on February 7, 2015 in Oslo, Norway at the 60th Annual General Assembly representing a membership of 25 different nations with over 70 delegates. Mr. Yovanovich, a noted local horseman, trainer and race rider himself from Upperville, Virginia, was the representative from the Amateur Riders Club of America (ARCA) and is the first American to be elected to the Board of Fegentri.
Fegentri represents amateur riders who do not receive any fees for riding in races. Each nation has their own active association which is responsible for promoting and coordinating races and safeguarding the interests of their amateur riders. The best amateur riders of each country qualify to participate in the World Championships.
For Mr. Yovanovich, to win a seat on the Internationale Federation was a great tribute to his successful program in the United States. Report has it that his election was overwhelming in an organization steeped in tradition and history. Mr. Yovanovich will fill a seat opened up by the resignation of a former Board member. There are currently eight board members of the Federation.
Mr. Yovanovich, who has passionately advocated for, and helped to guide and support, amateur riders in America for more than a decade, currently serves as Executive Director of the Amateur Riders Club of America (ARCA) which represents amateur race riders in the United States. ARCA was founded in 1975 by Pierre “Peb” Bellocq, the famous equine cartoonist that worked for the Racing Form. The inaugural ARCA race was held at Delaware Park. The organization grew out of Mr. Bellocq’s own experiences as a young man riding in France and throughout Europe under the auspices of Fegentri.
In its current format, ARCA’s mission is to develop riders who may later go on to become professional riders at many of America’s largest, most prestigious race tracks. The organization’s goals include: teaching riders fairness and safety, and the nurturing of the traditions and advancement of steeplechasing and the spirit of amateurism in the sport. Further, the organization encourages and sponsors American amateurs to compete in foreign, as well as American races, at some of the best known racing venues in the world, including the Curragh, Deauville, Baden-Baden, Abu Dhabi, Mauritis, and Qatar, as well as many top American tracks.
ARCA provides young riders with the opportunity to develop riding skills with actual race riding experience and encourages them to behave and present themselves as professionals, to ride safely, think fairly, and perform with a sense of responsibility for the safety of others and their mounts while having fun and developing long-lasting friendships with their colleagues and peers that will support a successful career in horse racing. This is an important mission “since there are no jockey schools in the United States like those in England and Ireland. Trainers here do not teach riding, they train their horses,” according to Yovanovich.
Many of America’s top riders at the race tracks today graduated from the programs sponsored by ARCA, including “Rosie” Napravnik, Forest Boyce, Trevor McCarthy, Kayla Albright and Sara Rook, all nationally known. In addition, ARCA has had “many successful steeplechase riders win stakes races over jumps recently, including Annie Yeager who won the Genesee Hunt Cup, Amelia McGuirk, winner of the Timber Stake at My Ladies Manor and Carol Ann Sloan who won several Group Races over Hurdles on Irv Naylor’s wonderful horse, Decoy Daddy,” according to Yovanovich.
ARCA is a 501( c ) 3 non-profit organization which operates on donated funds and grants to develop new riders. Principle financial support for ARCA comes from individuals and private foundations interested in equestrian ventures, as well as grants from the National Steeplechase Association. Additionally, each time there is a race at the tracks, the sum of the jockey mount fees is donated to ARCA. The funds from these sources support the work of ARCA and make its unique travel abroad and competitive racing program available to young riders who otherwise would not have the financial support for such experiences. Anyone interested in making a donation to this organization should contact, Mr. Donald Yovanovich at ARCA, PO Box 1877, Middleburg, VA 20117. All financial donations are fully tax-deductible, will be well-utilized, and are very much appreciated by ARCA. –Prepared by Renee B. Stewart