Tag Archives: FEI

All Hot-to-Trot as Exciting New Western European League Dressage Season Gets Underway

Daniel Bachmann Andersen and Blue Hors Zack. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

Hot on the heels of a super summer of sport, culminating in the edge-of-the-seat excitement of the FEI European Championships in Rotterdam (NED) in August, the best horse-and-rider combinations from all across Western Europe are ready to rock-n-roll when the new-season FEI Dressage World Cup™ series kicks off in Herning, Denmark.

This first leg of the 2019/2020 league has attracted a stellar cast of 21 riders from 10 countries including the host nation’s Daniel Bachmann Andersen who will partner the one-eyed wonder-stallion Blue Hors Zack with which he is ranked sixth in the world, and with which he pinned Germany’s Helen Langehanenberg and Damsey into runner-up spot at this opening fixture 12 months ago.

The Dane also concluded last season’s qualifying rounds with victory in ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED) in March where Langehanenberg again had to settle for second place. But the German star turned the tables at the 2019 finale in Gothenburg (SWE) in April when she made it to the third step of the podium on the last day while her Danish rival just missed out when finishing fourth. The game of cat-and-mouse between these two super-talents and their horses will resume when the Grand Prix gets underway in Herning on Saturday, 19 October, at 13.00 local time.

The strong Danish contingent will also include Agnete Kirk Thinggaard and JoJo Az who helped claim European team silver two years ago in Gothenburg (SWE) along with Anna Kasprazak riding Rock Star, and Cathrine Dufour who is ranked seventh in the world with her top ride, Atterupgaards Cassidy. This time out Dufour will partner the considerably younger Bohemian, who helped secure second place in the hotly contested Dressage Nations Cup at Aachen (GER) in July when competing alongside Kirk Thinggaard and Bachmann Andersen.

However, the German presence will be a powerful one, as Langehanenberg, series champion in 2013 and runner-up in 2012 and 2014 with the great Damon Hill, will be backed up by compatriots Frederic Wandres and Benjamin Werndl who both made their mark on last season’s Western European League. Werndl steered Daily Mirror to victory in Salzburg (AUT) in December and Wandres followed suit with the aptly named Duke of Britain at Olympia in London (GBR) a few weeks later where he pinned home heroine, Charlotte Dujardin riding Hawtins Delicato, into runner-up spot.

Dujardin of course is one of the biggest draws in this sport, having set so many world records scores during her spectacular partnership with the now retired and still much-loved Valegro with whom she claimed the FEI Dressage World Cup™ title in 2014 and again the following year. The British rider has stated her aim to qualify for the 2020 Final and may line out at the second leg of the new series in Lyon (FRA) next month, and at her hugely popular home fixture in London Olympia in December so that should send a ripple of excitement through her huge fan-base.

It’s going to be full-on from the outset this season, with Stuttgart (GER) hosting the third leg, also in November, and Madrid (ESP), Salzburg (AUT), London Olympia (GBR), and Mechelen (BEL) all taking place in December.

Round eight in Amsterdam (NED) will get the new year off to a great start and then it will be on to Neumunster (GER) and Gothenburg (SWE) in February before ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED) brings this qualifying series to a close in March. After that it will be all eyes on the Final which returns to Las Vegas (USA) for the fifth time.

The very first FEI Dressage World Cup™ champion was a Dane, Anne-Grethe Jensen, who stormed to victory with Marzog in ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED) in 1986, and some years later she reflected on the effect of that success which led to a rapid expansion of the sport in her home country. Dujardin’s charming partnership with Valegro has also inspired more than one new generation of young female athletes right across the globe, and more recently Judy Reynolds has done the same.

The Irish rider and her brilliant little horse Vancouver K finished fourth at the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final in Omaha (USA) in 2017 and have been smashing national records ever since. And this summer they led the very first Irish team in the history of the sport to Olympic qualification with a series of extraordinary results at the European Championships. The knock-on effect has been increased membership of the national governing body and a huge rise in entries for the recent National Championships at which over 700 tests were ridden over three days.

Reynolds has also confirmed that she will compete in the Western European League over the coming months as she prepares for Tokyo 2020, but everyone knows there’s really only one rider they all have to beat. And that is Germany’s Isabell Werth.

It’s 27 years now since this legendary lady won her first FEI Dressage World Cup™ title in Gothenburg (SWE) riding Fabienne. And, with a hat-trick of wins with her 2016 Olympic team gold-medal-winning mare Weihegold over the last three seasons, and sweeping all before her at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games™ and again at this year’s FEI European Championships with her other mare Bella Rose, she’s like an unstoppable train.

As defending champion, she just has to compete twice with whichever horse she would like to take to the 2020 Final. But for all the other Western European League contenders the road to Las Vegas begins, and good results will be key to their journey every step of the way.

Western European League Calendar here.

Masterlist for Leg 1, Herning here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

History-Making Egyptians Win Olympic Jumping Qualifier in Rabat

The Egyptian team of Mohamed Taher Zeyada, Nayel Nassar, Abdel Said, and Sameh El Dahan, with Chef d’Equipe Eng Hesham Hatab. (FEI/Jessica Rodriguez)

Qatar also claims Tokyo ticket

The Egyptian side of Mohamed Taher Zeyada, Nayel Nassar, Abdel Said, and Sameh El Dahan won the Group F Olympic Jumping qualifier at Rabat in Morocco in the finest style. Completing with just four faults over two tough rounds of Nations Cup competition, they pinned Switzerland into second and Italy into third place. There were six countries from this region – Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates – chasing down two available places at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. And it was the Qataris who booked the second slot when finishing eighth of the 14 competing nations.

It was history-making stuff for the winners, as the last time an Egyptian showjumping team competed at an Olympic Games was 59 years ago, in Rome in 1960.

“It’s incredible!” said third-line rider Abdel Said who collected just a single time penalty in each round with Venise du Reverdy. “When we came here, we knew we had a good chance because our riders are strong and compete all over the world. But not only to qualify for Tokyo but to also win this Nations Cup is a huge boost for us! This has been a target for the last two years. We really wanted to qualify and we took a gamble with the team we sent to Barcelona (for the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final two weeks ago), but it didn’t work out great. But we brought our ‘A’ team here and this has happened – it’s unbelievable!” he added.

They were already in the hunt at the halfway stage, sharing second place with Switzerland when both carried just one time fault. Brazil’s Bernardo Alves (El Torreo de Muze), Felipe Amaral (Quinn 33), Rodrigo Mesquita Marinho (Edesa’s Basantos), and Pedro Veniss (For Felicila) led the way on a zero scoreline while Canada was lying third with five on the board and the Qataris were already in eighth place carrying 10.

But the Brazilians lost their grip on pole position when racking up 14 faults second time out over the course designed by Irishman Alan Wade. And when Andy Kistler’s Swiss side of Elian Baumann (Campari Z), Anthony Bourquard (Tum Play du Jouas), Marc Rothlisberger (Agatha d’Ecaussines), and Alain Jufer (Cornet MM) had to add four more faults to their tally then the door was open for the Egyptians.

Zeyada reduced his first-round 12-fault discount score with Vizalaty to just two time faults at his second attempt, so when Nasser and Lucifer V posted a brilliant double-clear and Said registered only his second single time penalty of the day, then that would do it. The Swiss were on a final total of five while Egypt had just four on their scoresheet. El Dahan and his super-mare, Suma’s Zorro, looked set to put the icing on the cake by reducing that to just one fault with another double-clear performance, but not even their pole down could spoil the Egyptian celebrations. It was a huge moment for these four men who were putting their country right back on the Olympic Jumping map.

They were bursting with pride, and rightly so. The hard-working Said, who runs his own business in Antwerp, Belgium, sourcing and producing young horses and coaching riders while also competing, described his 10-year-old mare Venise as “a very raw and rough diamond who is only coming together over the last few months, but she is tough and has all the power in the world!” Maybe she will be the one who will take him to Tokyo. “It’s where we all want to get to. I’ve always dreamed of competing at the Olympic Games!“ he said.

Qatar’s 28-fault scoreline was good enough to earn the second Tokyo ticket. Hamad Nasser Al Qadi (SIEC Lonnie) posted 14 faults, Sheikh Ali Al Thani (Sirocco) collected nine, Rashid Towaim Ali Al Marri (Armstrong van de Kapel) picked up 15 faults, and Bassem Mohammed (Gunder) produced their best score with a total of five.

“Congratulations to all who helped us make it to the Olympics for a second time. We are very excited about it!” Bassem Mohammed said. “We competed in Rio (2016 Olympic Games) and now we go to Tokyo. It’s really important for us as riders, for the Federation, and for the Olympic Committee of Qatar so we are really looking forward to it,” he added.

Result here: https://online.equipe.com/fr/class_sections/464650.

by Louise Parkes

Germany Wins in Boekelo, Sweden Takes Series Title, and Swiss Book Ticket to Tokyo

Michael Jung leads German victory lap. (FEI/Libby Law)

In the thrilling finale to the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ 2019 series at Boekelo, The Netherlands, Team Germany posted their fourth win of the season while league leaders Sweden held on to take the series title. However, some of the biggest smiles were on Swiss faces when they pulled Olympic qualification out of the bag.

There were three teams in contention for the single ticket to Tokyo 2020, and Dutch hopes were dashed when they found themselves lying eleventh of the 12 competing nations after Saturday’s cross-country phase. But Switzerland and Belgium slugged it out to the very end, with the final series rankings swinging the pendulum in favour of the Swiss.

The new Olympic format led to plenty of head-scratching during the four-day fixture at which the German team took command at the outset and never flinched. Without a drop score, the multi-medalled Sandra Auffarth (Let’s Dance 73), Michael Jung (fischerRocana FST), and Ingrid Klimke (SAP Asha P) put just 78.10 penalty points on the board after Dressage, with Auffarth also leading the individual rankings on her mark of 24.90. And with a hat-trick of Cross-Country zeros, this phenomenal threesome looked all but unassailable going into the final Jumping phase.

There was plenty of movement below them as the cross-country course designed by Adrian Ditcham played its part. Australia climbed from sixth to second thanks to brilliant clear runs inside the time by Chris Burton (Clever Louis) and Kevin McNab (Fernhill Tabasco), and the Belgians rocketed up from seventh to third, thanks in no small part to a great performance from Lara de Liedekerke-Meier (Alpaga d’Arville) and just 3.6 time penalties for Constantin van Rijckevorsel (Beat It). With a two-phase tally of 117.50, they were lying just over three points behind Australia and just ahead of the Japanese who were in fourth going into the final day, while the Swiss also made serious headway when soaring up from 12th to fifth, their running total of 125.90 leaving them just eight points adrift of their Belgian rivals as the action resumed.

And it was a real roller-coaster in the battle for the team placings, with the 84-seconds time-allowed proving difficult for many to get.

The team partnerships were last to go, and the Belgians dropped down the leaderboard when adding 30.80 to their tally. However, despite the addition of just 0.40 for pathfinder Caroline Gerber (Tresor de Chignan CH) for going over the time, the Swiss also lost their grip when putting 30.00 more on the board. Robin Godel (Grandeur de Lully CH) collected 13.20 on his tour of the 12-fence track while Tiziana Realini (Toubleu de Rueire), who had produced one of those precious cross-country clears, posted 16.4 to bring their team total of 155.9, leaving the Swiss just behind their Belgian rivals in seventh place at the end of the day.

The Olympic spot would be earned by the country lying highest of the unqualified nations in the final FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ 2019 standings. The Swiss lay third coming into this seventh and last leg, and their final total of 370 points left them well clear of the Belgians who completed with 355. Meanwhile, with their closest opposition from Italy not lining out this time around, the leading Swedes, carrying 435 points, had a clear run to the 2019 title despite finishing tenth at this last leg.

At the sharp end, Germany held on for a convincing win on a final scoreline of 94.10, while a clear from Burton, 5.20 for McNab, and just four faults for Samantha Birch (Finduss PFB) secured runner-up spot for Australia on a final tally of 123.50. Japan finished an impressive third, Kazuma Tomoto (Bernadette Utopia) and Atsushi Negishi (Ventura de la Chaule JRA) going clear in both of the final two phases while Yoshiaki Oiwa (Bart L JRA), who had been lying individually second after dressage but who was penalised for a cross-country refusal, had a pole down at the penultimate triple combination. The Japanese finished less than a single penalty point behind the Australians, and it is quite clear they will be a force to be reckoned with on home ground in Tokyo next summer. Fourth went to New Zealand (130.00) and fifth to Great Britain (143.00).

The very last rider into the ring, Germany’s Auffarth, had individual glory in her grasp until hitting the last element of the triple combination, which dropped her to fourth and opened the door for Great Britain’s Laura Collett (London 52) to take the individual honours.

Results here.

by Louise Parkes

Granato Notches Second Career Longines Victory in Columbus

Alex Granato aboard Carchen W. (FEI/Josh Winslow)

With a field of Olympians, young rider champions, and a former World No. 1 rider assembled for the $135,000 CSI3*-W Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Columbus (USA), a close finish seemed inevitable. Then Alex Granato (USA) entered the ring with Carlchen W.

Granato, 36, and his longtime mount set themselves apart to record a dominant victory over a competitive jump-off field of 12. The duo crossed the timers of Olaf Petersen, Jr.’s (GER) shortened course nearly two seconds fastest, with a final time 44.26 seconds. Margie Goldstein-Engle (USA) and Dicas finished second with a jump-off time of 46.20 seconds, while Nicole Simpson (USA) and Akuna Mattata completed an all-American podium; that duo’s time was 46.91 seconds.

“I know I have a quick horse. I wanted to get a good pace started early, so I tried to get a big open canter [and] from there to stay on the pace. I tried to stay focused and keep [my horse] focused on me and the plan, rather than getting too anxious and getting ahead of ourselves.” — Alex Granato (USA)

The win marked the duo’s second Longines victory after racing to the top of Wellington’s (USA) leg at the end of last season. In the time since, the duo contested their first major championship when representing Team USA at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima (PER). There, they earned a team bronze medal.

“We shifted gears from Wellington,” Granato said. “We spent the winter focused on just me and the horse, on our [Longines World Jumping Ranking] and our consistency, and we had a super winter. From there, we focused more toward team events. We did the [Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Mexico], and from there we geared toward the Pan Ams. Now, I’m trying to refocus back again on us, just the partnership between me and him, so we can focus toward [the 2020 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final].”

Beezie Madden (USA), who finished fourth, continues to lead the east coast sub league standings of the North American League with 48 points. Granato moved into second on the west coast sub league leaderboard with 25 points, behind Karl Cook’s (USA) 37 points.

“I want to put my focus toward World Cup Finals,” Granato said. “[Carlchen W] will jump at two more events this year, both World Cup qualifiers. Hopefully we can continue off this [result] and get some good points to be in the game early, so we can coast through the winter circuit to focus on the Final.”

Full results.

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager Press Relations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Irish Take 2019 Title and Tokyo Qualifying Spot

(L to R) Paul O’Shea, Peter Moloney, Chef d’Equipe Rodrigo Pessoa, Darragh Kenny, and Cian O’Connor. (FEI/Linnea Rheborg/Getty Images)

The Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final 2019 came to thrilling climax, and it was Irish eyes that were smiling when Rodrigo Pessoa’s team of Peter Moloney, Paul O’Shea, Darragh Kenny, and Cian O’Connor clinched victory in fine style. Completing with just a single time fault, they pinned the defending champions from Belgium into runner-up spot while Sweden lined up in third. And to put the icing on the Irish cake, they also collected the Olympic qualifying spot they have been craving for a very long time.

Brilliant course-building by Spain’s Santiago Varela, who will also be presenting the tracks in Tokyo next summer, ensured another nail-biting afternoon during which it was impossible to predict the destiny of the coveted series trophy until the very last moment. But the Irish had already booked their Tokyo tickets before anchorman O’Connor went into the ring.

A single mistake from pathfinder Moloney and Chianti’s Champion at the massive triple combination three from home was followed by a superb clear from O’Shea and Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu. So when Kenny and Balou du Reventon collected just that single time fault then the road to Tokyo was already closed to their rivals from Colombia and Italy.

And then O’Connor turned a great day into an amazing one with a foot-perfect run from PSG Final because that put pressure on the Belgians for the Longines series title. The newly crowned European champions posted clears from Olivier Philippaerts (H&M Extra) and Jerome Guery (Quel Homme de Hus) and were looking good for their second victory in a row. One more clean run from anchorman Gregory Wathelet and MJT Nevados would clinch it because they could drop the unlucky four picked up by Niels Bruynseels and Jenson van’t Meulenhof at the very last fence. But, to gasps of disbelief from the crowd, Wathelet’s stallion uncharacteristically ducked out at the penultimate vertical, so Bruynseels’ four had to be counted and that would only be good enough for second place.

“We had a very clear objective coming here; the riders were super-focused and the horses were in great shape. Today we expected a very tough fight from Italy and Colombia who were our direct opponents (for Tokyo qualification), but as it happened, we were also holding strong against the big countries like Belgium and others. People sometimes don’t realise the pressure the riders are under to bring this qualification home. The weight of their country was on their shoulders; it was a big ask from them and to do it in the style they did it – hats off to them!”– Rodrigo Pessoa (Chef d’Equipe Team Ireland)

O’Connor, a member of the last Olympic team fielded by Ireland in Athens (GRE) in 2004, pointed out that the Longines title was always in their sights this week.  “Our aim was to win this trophy all along; obviously the Olympic qualification was also our goal, but you don’t come here just to qualify – we came here to win, and by doing so we got the bonus of qualification!” he said. And the team honoured one of the members of that 2004 Irish side, Kevin Babington, who finished individually fourth with the great Carling King that year and who experienced a life-changing accident four weeks ago, by wearing armbands bearing his name this week.

Pessoa was delighted with the spirit shown by his riders. “With teams there are good days and bad days… there’s a lot of chemistry, but the most important thing is that on the day it really counts, everyone sticks together and pulls the same way. People can leave their personal issues on the side and really pull for the country and that’s what happened here. I’m really proud of what they did today!”

Kenny said he realised how important his ride was. “I was a bit nervous going in the ring but I’m very lucky. I’ve an incredible horse; he’s absolutely amazing and he tried so hard. On Thursday he jumped an incredible clear and today I was just trying to make sure I left all the jumps up. Unfortunately, Santi [Santiago Varela, course designer] told me that I was the only person to get a time fault! My goal coming here was to try and do a double-clear, to try and get Ireland to Tokyo – that was the most important thing, and I’m glad I could be part of this great team. We were all fighting together; that was the most important thing,” he added.

That one time fault cost him a share of the €100,000 bonus for double-clear rounds that instead was divided between Belgium’s Olivier Philippaerts and Germany’s Daniel Deusser.

There was a great sense of satisfaction for Pessoa. “We already had two disciplines qualified (Dressage and Eventing) but it’s been a long time since Ireland, a great equestrian nation, has been at the Olympics Games in showjumping and it was this team’s responsibility to bring it home. That for me was the most stressful thing today, to feel what they felt and how hard it must have been for them to ride in those conditions. They had such a great mental attitude – nothing could have stopped them from achieving what they did. I was called in a few years ago to do a job (achieve Olympic Jumping qualification) so now it’s mission accomplished!” he said.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Bittersweet Victory for Spain in Challenge Cup

Sergio Alvarez Moya. (FEI/Linnea Rheborg/Getty Images)

There was a mixture of joy and regret for the Spanish team after winning the Challenge Cup at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final on home ground at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain.

The battle between the nine countries that missed the cut to the last round that will decide the fate of the 2019 Longines title was a tough one. But the hosts clinched a clear-cut victory in the end, pinning The Netherlands into runner-up spot while Brazil, Great Britain, and the USA finished equal-third.

“We lost out on Olympic qualification by less than half a second on Thursday, and that was heartbreaking, but sometimes what the sport takes away, the sport gives you back. Today we had this wonderful win and I’m absolutely excited and proud of the riders, the staff members, the coach, the vet, everybody who worked hard, because in the end this was a really beautiful gift to say goodbye to the 2019 Nations Cup season!” — Marco Fuste (Spanish Chef d’Equipe)

Course designer Santiago Varela set them a difficult track, and there were only six clear rounds from the 36 starters. But when two of those came from Spanish team then that was the deciding factor. And it was the last-to-go effort of Sergio Alvarez Moya and the exciting nine-year-old Jet Run that clinched it.

Great Britain, USA, The Netherlands, and Spain were all in contention for a four-fault finishing result going into the last rotation of riders, but mistakes from Ben Maher and F One USA at the second element of the double at fence eight and again at the final vertical put paid to British chances. And when Richard Spooner and Quirado RC also faulted at the same double as well as the following oxer then American hopes were seriously compromised.

The Netherlands’ pathfinders, Maikel van der Vleuten and Dana Blue, clipped only the second fence on the course that looked sensational under lights. And that was followed by a brilliant clear from Zypriz S ridden by Willem Greve who, as the only rider through to the competition who had also been foot-perfect in Thursday’s first round, therefore earned all of the €50,000 bonus on offer to riders with double-clear performances.

Marc Houtzager’s Sterrehof’s Calimero also faulted at the first element of the bogey double at eight, but it seemed the Dutch were about to really put it up to the Spanish by posting just a four-fault finishing score when Bart Bles and Israel VD Dennehoeve skipped around the course with the greatest of ease, only for it all to unravel at the very last.

The Spanish crowd was suddenly whipped into a frenzy of excitement, because the door was now wide open. The British and Americans were no longer a threat because they would complete on the same 12-fault scoreline as Brazil, and the Dutch could do no better than eight. If last-to-go Alvarez Moya could keep a clean sheet, then the hosts would have it.

Spain’s Alberto Marquez Galobardes and Ucello Massuere had suffered the same fate as Bles at the final fence, but team-mate Eduardo Alvarez Aznar and Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Margot were beautifully clear, so the 12 faults collected by Santiago Nunez Riva could be dropped if their anchor partnership could master Varela’s course.

The deafening noise that had been reverberating around the stadium descended into a complete hush as Alvarez Moya and his relatively inexperienced nine-year-old gelding set off. But the sound-barrier was nearly broken when he cleared the last and punched the air with delight.

When asked afterwards if he noticed the silence and could feel the tension as he went into the arena, he replied, “I don’t really think much once I go in the ring. I focus on the job and try to ride as good as possible. Once you do that, if you have a rail down that’s the sport – I just try my best. I have to say today it gave me great confidence to have my colleagues doing such a good job before me. And it’s a lovely position to go in the ring with the chance of a win – it doesn’t happen very often so I loved it!”

He wasn’t the only one who savoured this success. “It’s a moment of great happiness!” said Marco Fuste who has been Spanish Chef d’Equipe the last 14 years. “Winning a Nations Cup at this level makes me very happy, especially here in my hometown where I have been living for 46 years!”

Watch highlights here: https://youtu.be/vJA3RCMFKsw.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Cook Skyrockets to Top of NAL Leaderboard with Victory in Sacramento

Karl Cook and Caillou. (FEI/JXB Photography)

Consistency paid off for Karl Cook (USA) with a win in the CSI3*-W $100,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Sacramento (USA). Riding the 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding Caillou, he bested a six-horse jump-off to record his first World Cup victory of the season.

Last to go, Cook positively flew through the timers of Marina Azevedo’s (BRA) shortened course, finishing in 36.75 seconds. Conor Swail (IRL) finished second aboard the talented 9-year-old Koss van Heiste with a time of 37.35 seconds, while Guy Thomas (NZL), first to contest the jump-off, was third aboard Jonkheer Z; that duo’s final time was 38.95 seconds.

“It’s always fun going last. You know what you have to do. It gives you a better feeling when you ride, because you know that whatever you do, you stay there.” — Karl Cook (USA)

Just two combinations were able to advance to the jump-off in the first half of the class, but four of the final six combinations produced a clear first round, including Cook, whose confidence was made evident by the relative degree of ease with which he navigated the challenging indoor track. In the jump-off, he used his advantageous position in the lineup to his advantage and planned a wider, yet efficient turn to the last fence that set him up for a strong gallop to the finish.

“Conor went inside [to the last fence] and did [one fewer stride], which I very well could have done,” Cook said, “but I saw how the turn after was, so I said I’d go around and do [one extra stride] and turn after quicker.”

After jumping well in Vancouver and finishing second in New York, Cook firmly cemented himself atop the west coast sub league standings of the North American League with 37 points. Zazou Hoffman (USA) sits second with 19 points, two points ahead of Kelli Cruciotti (USA) with 17 points.

“I’m really happy, because I feel like [Caillou] has been consistently there,” Cook said. “That’s what makes me the proudest.”

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager Press Relations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Defending Champions from Belgium Top First-Round Nail-Biter

Gregory Wathelet and MJT Nevados. (FEI/Lukasz Kowalski)

Team Belgium, winners in 2015 and again last year, looked supremely confident when topping the first round of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2019 Final at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain. But the battle between the seven countries fighting for the single qualifying spot on offer for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games proved equally as intriguing during an afternoon filled with thrills and surprises.

A total of 18 countries went into battle, but only eight places in Sunday’s second-round decider were up for grabs and it was Belgium, France, Sweden, Colombia, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy who claimed them, the hosts missing out by an agonising 0.45 seconds when time was the deciding factor. So instead they go through to the Challenge Cup on Saturday night in which they will be joined by all the other nations who didn’t make the cut – The Netherlands, Norway, USA, Japan, Great Britain, Brazil, Mexico, and Egypt. Team Portugal has withdrawn from the competition.

The Belgians, newly-crowned European champions, now look well set to beat all comers once again, but Chef d’Equipe, Peter Weinberg, isn’t taking anything for granted.

“We always try very hard and we were looking forward to coming back here again and today we did very well, but there’s still the second round on Sunday which will be more difficult. The teams that have qualified are all strong and they are all very close together. We are lucky that we already have our Olympic qualification so we don’t have that pressure anymore, but we are very happy how we jumped today.” — Peter Weinberg (Team Belgium)

Olivier Philippaerts got Belgium off to a flying start when clear with H&M Extra, and Pieter Devos added just four faults with a mistake at the oxer at fence five, while Jerome Guery’s stallion Quel Homme de Hus was one of many to hit the flimsy plank topping the vertical at fence 10. But when Gregory Wathelet and MJT Nevados, the only horse-and-rider partnership competing this week, who were also on that history-making European gold-medal-winning team last August, were foot-perfect all the way, then Belgium completed on a four-fault tally which left them heading the leaderboard with a single-fault advantage over the French.

Sweden and Colombia shared third place on a total of nine, and the Colombians are once again proving a force to be reckoned with. Although they are not always very visible on the international circuit they have a habit of pulling off some great results at major events, and Carlos Enrique Lopez Lizarazo produced one of just nine clears on a day when 70 riders from 18 teams took on the 13-fence track created by Spanish course designer Santiago Varela.

The Irish have their eyes fully-focused on that Olympic qualifying spot so were highly relieved when their 10-fault tally earned them fifth place ahead of Germany, Switzerland, and Italy who all completed with 12 faults on the board but who were separated by the total of their combined times. It was heartache for Spain’s Alberto Marquez Galobardes, Sergio Alvarez Moya, Santiago Nunez Riva, and Eduardo Alvarez Aznar when they were squeezed out by the Italians who will resume that Olympic qualification contest with the Colombians and Irish when the final-day action gets underway on Sunday with all eight teams starting again on a zero score.

“We came here strong!” said Olivier Philippaerts. “We’ve had a great season, so we wanted to come here with the best team possible and that’s what we did. This was a tremendous start; going into Sunday it’s good for the confidence and now hopefully we can pull it off!” he added.

Chef d’Equipe Weinberg was extra-pleased with the performance of Pieter Devos “because he had Claire (his European gold-medal-winning horse) in New York last weekend so instead he rode this young mare, Jade, here for the first time in a class like that and she jumped brilliant!” he said. And he’s excited that Niels Bruynseels, a member of last year’s victorious side who will replace Devos in his team for Sunday, will bring out another up-and-coming young talent, the 10-year-old Belgian stallion Jenson van’t Meulenhof.

Anchorman Wathelet insisted that he felt under no pressure “because everyone else had done their job and made it easier for me!” but it was in fact his clear round with Nevados that clinched that pole position. He’s a man of great experience. “I was on the team that won in 2015 when I was also double-clear, and two years ago I was also double-clear so I think I like it here!” he said. But like his team manager he is under no illusions about what can happen on Sunday.

“It’s a whole new competition and anything can happen. We know it’s going to be difficult to do the double, but that’s what we came here for – to win!” he said.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

The Battle of Barcelona Promises to Be Epic

Niels Bruynseels helped Team Belgium to victory at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup 2018 Final at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain. (FEI/Lukasz Kowalski)

Olympic qualification adds extra spice to much-anticipated Longines Final

There’s a super-sizzle of excitement ahead of this week’s Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2019 Final which kicks off on Thursday at the beautiful Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain. This will be the seventh consecutive year for the event to take place at the iconic venue that played host to the Olympic equestrian events of the 1992 Olympic Games and, once again, it will be ace Spanish course designer Santiago Varela who will be testing the best over four days of fabulous sport.

In this 110th season of the FEI Nations Cup™, its appeal is as powerful as ever. The horses and riders proudly fly their national flags and the public love to cheer on their own teams as they chase down the prestigious title. Last year’s champions from Belgium are major contenders once again, having clinched European team gold just five weeks ago in Rotterdam (NED). They look a formidable force with just one absentee from the side that stood on the top step of that podium as they send out Pieter Devos, Jerome Guery, Olivier Philippaerts, Gregory Wathelet, and Niels Bruynseels.

After 12 qualifiers in 12 countries on three continents, a total of 18 nations have booked their tickets to the Final which offers almost €2m in prizemoney. Belgium, Brazil, Columbia, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, and USA have all made the cut, and Spain lines out as host nation.

And for seven of those countries there is a lot of extra pressure, as they are all vying for the single qualifying spot left for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. This week in Barcelona presents them with one final opportunity, but it’s right down to the wire and the tension is tangible.

Colombia, Egypt, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, and Spain will need to get their act together from the moment the action gets underway in Thursday’s Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final first round which kicks off at 14.00 local time. There will be nowhere to run and nowhere to hide, because only the top eight teams after Friday’s second round will qualify for next Sunday’s title-decider, with the remainder going into Saturday’s Challenge Cup. The fight between those seven countries for the Tokyo slot is likely to be just as fierce as the battle for supremacy in the series finale itself.

While the Belgians look super-strong contenders, there’s no looking past Andy Kistler’s Swiss selection. He’s spoiled for choice because he has the World No. 1 and reigning Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ champion, Steve Guerdat, and the World No. 2 and recently crowned European champion Martin Fuchs in his side along with Arthur Gustavo da Silva, Beat Mandli, and Niklaus Rutschi. Also hot-to-trot are the Swedes who, under Chef d’Equipe Henrik Ankarcrona, have shown fantastic form of late. He sends out the incredible Peder Fredricson, currently World No. 4, whose heroics this summer have been nothing short of legendary and who will be joined by Stephanie Holmen, Fredrik Jonsson, Evelina Tovek, and Henrik von Eckermann.

And of course, every German side has to be treated with the utmost respect. With Christian Ahlmann, Daniel Deusser, Marcus Ehning, Laura Klaphake, and Maurice Tebbel on call-up, it seems very likely indeed that they will be gunning for pole position after finishing second to the Belgians in Rotterdam just a few short weeks ago. But the Barcelona Final has a history of springing surprises, and last year Germany didn’t make the cut into the last day, having to settle for victory in the Challenge Cup instead, ahead of the USA. Neither of these two nations will want to find themselves in the same position again this time around, and the Americans look like they also mean business with superstars Laura Kraut and McLain Ward backed up by Eve Jobs, Chloe Reid, and Richard Spooner.

On Wednesday 2 October, there will be a draw for the order-of-go and then it’s down to business the following day when all-comers will take on the defending champions from Belgium. If their latest exploits are anything to go by, the rest will all need to be at the very top of their game because it’s not without reason that Belgian Chef d’Equipe, Peter Weinberg, called his 2018 champions his “never-give-up team.”

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Sporting Rivalries Feature between FEI Awards 2019 Nominees as Public Voting Begins

Steve Guerdat (L) and Martin Fuchs after winning first and second place respectively at the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final 2019 in Gothenburg (SWE). FEI/Christophe Taniere

Swiss Jumping stars Steve Guerdat and Martin Fuchs will see their long-standing sporting rivalry play out in the polls as the public vote for the FEI Awards 2019 opens.

An impressive billing of equestrian athletes, individuals, and projects have been shortlisted across five Awards categories following the FEI’s call to action for nominations from the global equestrian community.

Flying the flag for 15 nations on five continents, the 22 shortlisted nominees have been selected for their outstanding achievements on the field of play, inspirational outlook, and unparalleled dedication.

World number one Guerdat (37) and his great friend and rival Fuchs (27), who was crowned FEI European Jumping champion last month, are amongst the five nominees in the running for the Peden Bloodstock FEI Best Athlete Award 2019, along with Eventing legend Ingrid Klimke (GER), this year’s FEI Driving World Cup™ winner Bram Chardon (NED), and Dutch Paralympian and triple European gold medallist Sanne Voets.

The 2019 Awards winners will be celebrated at a star-studded ceremony at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow (RUS) on 19 November.

The public has from 25 September to 7 October to cast votes for their heroes. Make sure you have your say and vote here.

Shortlisted nominees for the FEI Awards 2019 are:

Peden Bloodstock FEI Best Athlete – paying tribute to the athlete who over the past year has demonstrated exceptional skill and taken the sport to a new level.

  • Steve Guerdat (SUI), Jumping
  • Martin Fuchs (SUI), Jumping
  • Ingrid Klimke (GER), Eventing
  • Bram Chardon (NED), Driving
  • Sanne Voets (NED), Para Dressage

Cavalor FEI Best Groom – for the behind-the-scenes hero who ensures the horses they look after are given the best possible care.

  • Tim Varlec (SLO), groom for Irish Para Dressage athlete Tamsin Addison
  • Madeleine Broek (NED), groom for Dutch Jumping star Marc Houtzager
  • Yann Devanne (FRA), groom for French Olympic Eventing team gold medallist Thibaut Vallette
  • Ann-Christin De Boer (GER), groom for Olympic Dressage golden girl Helen Langehanenberg

Longines FEI Rising Star – for the youth athlete aged 14 to 21 who demonstrates outstanding sporting talent and commitment.

  • Max Wachman (IRL), 16, Jumping
  • Juan Martin Clavijo (COL), 19, Vaulting
  • Semmieke Rothenberger (GER), 20, Dressage
  • Costanza Laliscia (ITA), 20, Endurance

FEI Against All Odds – for an inspiring individual who has pursued their equestrian ambitions and overcome challenges and obstacles along the way.

  • Marie Vonderheyden (USA), Para Dressage
  • Eric Lamaze (CAN), Jumping
  • Tobias Thorning Jørgensen (DEN), Para Dressage
  • Zhenqiang Li (CHN), Jumping

FEI Solidarity – for an FEI Solidarity or equestrian development project, an individual or organisation that has used skill, dedication, and energy to expand the sport.

  • DSA LEAD Programme (RSA)
  • Uno Yxklinten (SWE), farriery training programme in Zambia
  • The Wheatland Farm Equestrian Center, Virginia (USA)
  • The Jack Dodd Foundation (IRL)
  • The Urban Equestrian Academy (GBR)

The winners will be decided through a system in which 50% of the public’s vote and 50% of the judges’ votes will be combined to give the final result. The nine expert judges are as follows:

Ingmar De Vos (BEL), FEI President

Matthieu Baumgartner (SUI), Longines Vice President of Marketing

Marina Sechina (RUS), President Russian Equestrian Federation and member FEI Solidarity Committee

Simone Blum (GER), Jumping athlete and winner of the FEI Best Athlete Award 2018

Peter Bollen (BEL), Founder and chief nutritionist of Cavalor

Martin Atock (IRL), Managing Director of Peden Bloodstock

Robin Parsky (USA), Vice Chairman of the Jumping Owners Club (JOC)

Harald Link (THA), President Thailand Equestrian Federation

Eve Van Den Bol (CAY), President Cayman Islands Equestrian Federation (CIEF) and member FEI Solidarity Committee

FEI media contacts:

Olga Nikolaou
Media Relations Officer
olga.nikolaou@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 56

Vanessa Martin Randin
Senior Manager, Media Relations & Communications
Vanessa.Randin@fei.org
+ 41 78 750 61 73