Jumper Daniel Bluman, world ranked number 40, will not now ride at the Olympic Games as anchor for the Israeli team because of a registration issue over top-string Gemma W. A last-minute appeal to the FEI Tribunal has failed, and Bluman posted his dismay at the alleged obstacles put in his path and of being branded a “liar.”

This is not the first time a horse has been ruled out of the Olympics through not being registered in the nationality of the country it will represent by January 15. The FEI gave examples of other belated registration requests it had similarly dismissed and stressed the rule must be fairly applied to provide a “level playing field.”

Bluman’s case was complicated by confusion over exactly who owns Gemma, and conflicting information about her named owner, Florida-based Blue Star Investments.

Bluman was born in Colombia, of Jewish descent. One of his grandparents survived the Holocaust. After Rio 2016, representatives of the Jewish community expressed interest in supporting him, so the two-times Olympian switched to Israeli nationality. But it was only in spring of 2021 that he realized Gemma was still registered with a US-based corporation.

Bluman submitted that since 2016 Gemma has been owned solely by him and the “confusion” stems from his use of the “pseudonym” Blue Star when registering horses. He named it after the blue star on the Israeli flag. He initially said Blue Star is not a company, holding group or syndicate, and “does not exist at all.”

Bluman first asked USEF to correct the database. The FEI advised USEF that Gemma could compete with an American rider only at the Olympics.

On May 18, Bluman contacted the FEI directly but on May 20 it refused to alter the database, saying Gemma’s nationality could only be processed by USEF.

Bluman then contacted the Belgian federation (issuer of Gemma’s passport) who changed her nationality but not ownership. Belgium asked the FEI to backdate Gemma’s details but it declined. On June 2, Bluman lodged an appeal.

Bluman’s legal team said the rule’s intent is to ensure horse and owner are of the same nationality; Bluman fulfilled that intent. The registration is “mainly a formality” and the integrity of the FEI database is the important factor. Belgium only had to change Bluman’s address to have Gemma’s nationality changed to Israel.

The FEI’s said Bluman’s explanations are not “credible.” All national federations were reminded of the January 15 deadlines, but neither rider or Israeli federation checked until it was too late.

Gemma had always been registered solely with Blue Star Investments. Another horse, Ladriano Z, is split among Bluman (1%), Blue Star Investments (97%) and another stable (2%), indicating Blue Star is a separate entity.

The Israeli Sports Director confirmed that Blue Star Investments is Bluman’s US firm. Bluman later told the FEI that Blue Star Investments is a “group of owners” including himself but also that it “does not exist at all, is entirely owned by him, and nothing more than a pseudonym.” To the FEI it appeared that Gemma “does not have any owner at all” ‒ in itself a rule breach.

The Tribunal dismissed the appeal on the basis of FEI regulations and case precedents. It was unnecessary to analyze the composition of Blue Star Investments, but if it “does not exist and is not a person or entity” then the FEI makes a good point that “Gemma is not registered with the FEI as the property of any ‘owner’.”