Tag Archives: FEI

OS and Holsteiner Mares Claim 2021 Titles

Kevin McNab and Cute Girl. (FEI/Libby Law)

Mares topped both divisions at this year’s FEI WBFSH Eventing World Breeding Championships for Young Horses 2021 at Lion d’Angers in France, where Germany’s Anna Lena Schaaf steered the OS studbook’s Lagona 4 to victory in the 6-Year-Olds, while Australia’s Kevin McNab and the Holsteiner, Cute Girl, topped the 7-Year-Old category.

The hugely popular event, which is designed to help develop future stars, attracted a massive 40,000 spectators along with many of the world’s best Eventing athletes and super-talented young horses once again.

6-Year-Olds

Anna Lena Schaaf only turned 20 in August, but she already has a reputation for producing quality horses, and with Lagona 4 (Lavagon/Ile de Cartina/Cartani 4) she led the 6-Year-Olds from start to finish. Posting 25.8 in the Dressage phase, the pair had a narrow advantage of just 0.7 penalties over Thomas Carlile and the mare Fair Lady des Bourcks in second.

Fellow Frenchman Nicolas Touzaint was lying third with another Selle Francais, the gelding Fibonacci de Lessac HDC, who was awarded a score of 26.8 by judges Nice Attolico Guglielmi (ITA), Xavier Le Sauce (FRA) and Nikki Herbert (GBR), while newly-crowned Olympic individual Eventing champion Julia Krajewski from Germany was lying fourth with the Hanoverian gelding Chintonic 3 on a score of 27.9 going into Saturday’s cross-country phase.

A total of 46 starters set off over the 22-fence cross-country track and three were eliminated while one retired, but the top six places remained unchanged.

Schaaf said, “It’s still a really crazy feeling being in the lead in such a good competition! It was great riding the cross-country today; my horse was really focused and I had the feeling she really enjoyed the crowd so I’m super excited for tomorrow! Usually she is a great showjumper but we have to see… maybe she will be a little bit tired after the cross-country but I’m looking forward to it.”

As it happened, Lagona was foot-perfect once again to leave the final result beyond doubt. But three fences down saw Thomas Carlile and Fair Lady des Broucks plummet to 17th place, so when Touzaint was clear, he rose to runner-up spot. Meanwhile, a single error saw Krajewski and Chintonic drop from fourth to fifth and two new names appeared at the top of the final leaderboard.

Bounced up

Rebecca Chiappero was lying 14th with the Irish Sport Horse Bonmahon Chelsea after dressage, but bounced up to tenth on Saturday after a brilliant cross-country clear. When the pair collected just 0.8 for time in an otherwise flawless showjumping round, their final tally of 31.7 saw the Italian rider stand on the third step of the podium. Fourth went to Australia’s Isabel English and the ACE-bred Cil Dara Dallas who were ninth after dressage, eighth after a clear cross-country run, and who moved up four places when collecting just two time faults.

This win adds yet another gold medal to the collection Schaaf has already accumulated. It’s only five years since she won double-gold at the FEI Eventing European Pony Championships in 2016; she was a double-gold medallist again in Juniors in 2019 and she claimed team gold and individual silver at this summer’s Young Riders European Eventing Championships in Sweden.

She was delighted for her winning mare: “Like yesterday, she was focused and concentrated, and in the end she really enjoyed the galloping around after the prizegiving and listening to everybody screaming. I think she felt ‘Yes! I’m the best!’”

Also happy was Schaaf’s former trainer at Junior level, Julia Krajewski, who sees big things ahead for her former student. “Anna Lena is an excellent rider as she has proven this weekend, and last weekend when she won her first 4* event. The German team always needs new talent, particularly those who are capable of training young horses,” said the Olympic champion.

7-Year-Olds

In the 7-Year-Old division Australia’s Kevin McNab and Cute Girl (Coventry/Caligula/Clearway) also took the early lead and didn’t let go. Judges Emmanuelle Olier (FRA), Katarzyna Konarska (POL), and James Rooney (IRL) scored their test at 26.9, and they added nothing over the following two phases.

Also competing on their dressage score were second-placed Laura Collett and the Trakehner, Outback, whose dressage mark of 27.2 left them only fractionally ahead of British compatriot Hayden Hankey and Heads Up on 27.4, while yet another of the British contingent, Selina Milnes, was lying fourth with the Irish-bred Cooley Snapchat on 27.5 going into cross-country day – just 0.6 penalty points separating the leading four.

It was a star-studded line-up after dressage, 43-year-old McNab a member of the Australian silver medal winning team at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games where 32-year-old Collett claimed team gold, while 42-year-old Hankey is one of the best-known and successful show-horse competitors on the British circuit.

His versatile Irish Sport Horse, Heads Up, was Working Hunter champion at the Horse of the Year Show in 2019 and finished second in the British 7-Year-Old Eventing Championship at Osberton this year. But the pair paid a big price when just over the cross-country optimum time of 9’ 04”, which left them with two time penalties and dropped them to overnight ninth place.

A total of 58 combinations headed out on the cross-country track in the 7-Year-Old championship and five were eliminated, while three retired and just 13 made it home within the optimum time.

McNab had every reason to get it absolutely right. A year ago, he and Cute Girl were eliminated in the 6-Year-Old Championship when missing a fence, but this time the pair cruised home and maintained their lead.

Surprised

“I was actually surprised I didn’t lose more time towards the end, so I came in a little bit quicker than I’d planned. But the round felt really good; she was really solid and she’s matured a lot from last year,” he said.

Collett was equally pleased after her cross-country run. “I’m very, very happy; he was a bit scared of the crowds, but he stayed very honest and kept answering the questions. It’s an awful lot for them to come here if they don’t have much experience and to see so many people and the fences. They are very beautiful and well-built but they are quite spooky for the horses, so it was a very educational day and I’m delighted with him,” she said after galloping home comfortably within the time with Outback.

“It’s such a big atmosphere here and tomorrow is another day and hopefully he comes out feeling well. He’s already exceeded all our expectations this week; he has performed brilliantly and fingers crossed he can do the same tomorrow.” And he did, leaving all the poles in place in the final phase while McNab’s Cute Girl did likewise.

Milnes added 0.8 time penalties to her tally, but still held on for third ahead of compatriots Gemma Tattersall with Johan-Some in fourth and Hankey who climbed back up to fifth when adding only 0.4 for time. British riders filled all the places from second to seventh, and the most prolific studbook in the top-seven was the ISH, taking third, fifth, sixth, and seventh spots.

But the Holsteiner, Cute Girl, was the golden girl, and after numerous attempts to make the podium at this prestigious fixture, McNab was plenty pleased with his result.

Great event

“Le Lion is one of those events we always love coming to, and it’s great when you are at this step of the podium, but at the same time it’s always a great event regardless. It’s great for the horses looking towards their future and even if we weren’t winning, we still enjoy it,” he said.

Collett said that in the final showjumping phase, “The time was very tight and the atmosphere in there was like a Championship, like a Badminton; these young horses haven’t experienced that, so I’m so proud of my horse!”

She echoed the sentiments of many when showering praise on the event organisers. “A massive thank you to the team at Le Lion. Every year they put on a phenomenal event and it’s so important for these young horses to bring them to a place like this – it’s a real honour to be here,” she said.

Results here

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Cathrine and Cassidy Are the Show-Stealers at Herning

Cathrine Dufour and Atterupgaards Cassidy. (FEI/Leanjo de Koster)

They were billed as the superstars that everyone wanted to see, and the brilliant Danish partnership of Cathrine Dufour and Atterupgaards Cassidy didn’t disappoint. In a field sprinkled with both blossoming and established talent they reigned supreme to win the exciting first leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2021/2022 Western European League on home ground at Herning.

They had to work hard, however, because compatriots Carina Cassøe Krüth and Heiline’s Danciera put on a spectacular performance to finish second, while the Dutch duo of Dinja van Liere and Hermes were sensational when slotting into third.

Young horses were really impressive, showing so much promise for things to come. But the crowd went wild when the old boy of the pack, the 18-year-old Cassidy, showed that he still has all the moves when stealing the limelight.

Opened

The action opened with Jennie Larson and Zircoon Spring Flower, the sole Swedish representatives when Patrik Kittel was withdrawn as his ride, Fiontini, was sold.

It was German Eventing idol, Ingrid Klimke, who led the way at the halfway stage when posting 78.750 with Franziskus 15. And when the action resumed after the break, Denmark’s Lone Bang Larsen went out in front with a lovely test from the 11-year-old mare Thranegaardens Rostov that earned 79.525. But then Van Liere and her fabulous nine-year-old stallion Hermes, who took the sport by storm when winning the Grand Prix in Aachen (GER) last month, forged a massive lead when putting 84.360 on the board.

With three left to go. Cassøe Krüth bettered that with a beautiful Freestyle from her 10-year-old mare that, despite a mistake in the one-tempi changes, earned a massive 86.395. So, second-last to go, Dufour and Cassidy had to do something special. But they’ve done it many times during their many years together and this was no exception. Posting 87.115 they bagged victory and brought the Danish crowd to their feet.

Crying

“I was crying my heart out; it was really fantastic!” said Dufour afterwards. With her younger horse, the 11-year-old Bohemian, she earned silver and bronze at the FEI Dressage European Championships last month, not long after returning from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. But achieving what she did with Atterupgaards Cassidy, who carried her to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and who has collected 12 European Championship medals, including Young Rider gold and double-bronze at Senior level, during their hugely successful career together was just so very special. It’s about 18 months since he last appeared at an international event, but he showed he still loves every moment of it.

“He is turning 19 in one month and he’s just one of a kind. He’s been with me for 11 years and I have really had enough, but he hasn’t yet! I brought him here so that he could feel important again and he could show the crowd that he still wants to do it, so I’m over the moon!” Dufour said.

He had already made it clear he’s still very much in the game when winning the Grand Prix. He posted his Freestyle victory with apparently effortless ease.

Fit

Dufour says the horse she calls “Cassie” keeps himself fit. “You don’t have to do too much at home. I ride him once, maybe twice a week in dressage and the other days he’s just stretching and jogging or doing pole-work or hacking, so I think that’s why he’s so super healthy. “He’s just clever; he’s never using himself too much; he gives that much extra in the competitions, but back home I never ask for that. I just keep my fingers crossed when I bring him out and hope that he will do it, and he shows me again and again that he will!”

She insisted that she came out with no huge expectations. “I said at the beginning of this competition that there was no pressure; I wasn’t going to ride to win. I didn’t want to push Cassie to win; everything he offered me I took, but I wouldn’t have pushed him to do any more than he wanted,” she said. Will this be his last public appearance before going into well-earned retirement? Possibly not, it seems.

“We’ll see what this season brings, and I might do one more show with him, but he will be the one who decides, not me!” said the 29-year-old Dane who will take another horse, Vamos Amigos, to the second leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Western European League at Lyon, France next week.

Cheer

The Danish crowd had plenty to cheer about, and for runner-up Cassøe Krüth, it was an extra test for her 10-year-old mare when they clapped loudly as the pair progressed up the final centreline. But Danciera seemed to enjoy it, “and she has never felt so good!” said the 37-year-old Dane.

“When they started clapping, I thought Ohh, we still have a long way to go! But she stayed focused, and it was okay and actually I think she liked it, so now they can do it any time!” she added.

Dutch 31-year-old Van Liere was delighted with her result with Hermes. “Yesterday we had a couple of mistakes, but it was our first Short Grand Prix and of course he still lacks experience. I’m riding him since he was three years old, and I hope I will be able to ride him for many more years. I plan to do more World Cups, but I don’t want to put too much pressure on him because he is still young,” said the athlete who hopes to bring him to the qualifiers on her home turf in Amsterdam in January and ’s-Hertogenbosch next March.

Show Director at Herning, Jens Trabjerg, was also very pleased. “It’s always nice as an organiser to have such fantastic sport as we had today. We have tried for the past five years to get the audience to stay for the prize-giving and I have to say we have been quite successful,” he pointed out. Not too surprising perhaps when the home-side contenders steal all the glory in front of their home crowd.

Results here

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Jochems and Turbo Z Power to Victory in Oslo

Kevin Jochems and Turbo Z. (FEI/Helene Gjerde Aamdal)

The opening leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2021/2022 Western European League more than lived up to expectations, with young Dutchman, Kevin Jochems, winning through in an edge-of-the-seat jump-off.

Riding the fabulous 12-year-old stallion Turbo Z, the 26-year-old athlete snatched pole position and maximum points towards the series Final in Leipzig, Germany next April with the coolest of cool rounds when last to go in the seven-horse second-round decider.

Jochems was the sole Dutch representative on the 35-strong start-list of horse/athlete combinations that took on the 13-fence first-round challenge presented by Italian course designer Elio Travagliati, who certainly tested riding skills, and the attention of the horses, in the close confines of Oslo’s Telenor Arena. The beginning of the indoor season always takes some adjustment after competing all summer in the great outdoors, and some clever placement of fences ensured that both horse and rider had to be on top of their game to make the cut into the second round.

Bogey

The double at fence six, approached off a bending line from the previous oxer and placed along the very edge of the ringside hospitality area, proved the bogey of the day. However, the triple combination three from home was also influential, while young American, 25-year-old Lillie Keenan, looked en route to a perfect tour of the track until her superstar gelding, Skyhorse, put in an uncharacteristic stop and decanted his jockey at the very final oxer when he couldn’t find his stride.

Also out of luck was host-nation veteran, 61-year-old Geir Gulliksen, whose Olympic ride VDL Groep Quatro hit the very first fence in an otherwise foot-perfect round. “He’s never done that in the whole time I’ve had him!” he said of his 15-year-old gelding who is always a real trier. But Gulliksen was delighted to be competing alongside his daughter and son, Victoria and Johan-Sebastian, and the many other young riders who lined out at this year’s opening leg of the Western European series.

“When you feel you can compete with the younger generation it’s an incredible feeling!” he said.

Set the pace

First to produce a clean run was 24-year-old Austrian, Alessandra Reich, with her big 10-year-old gelding Loyd, and they set the pace in the jump-off with another faultless effort in 50.20 seconds. This was clearly beatable, but the rest had to leave all the poles in place, and when only four managed to do that then Reich slotted into fourth spot in the final analysis.

Second to take on the clock was Sweden’s Peder Fredricson, at 53 years of age by far the elder statesman of the clear-round pack, and he reset the target when bringing the 10-year-old mark Cosmopolit home without fault in 46.72 seconds. Then 28-year-old Belgian, Olivier Philippaerts, set off with Le Blue Diamond v’t Ruytershof, but the tricky double at six was still in place, and when the 10-year-old gelding hit the first element there, four faults in 47.20 seconds would leave them down the order.

Next out was 22-year-old Harry Charles, who made a huge impression as part of the British side that won the Challenge Cup at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final in Barcelona, Spain two weeks ago. But the penultimate oxer hit the floor before he crossed the line with Romeo in 46.70 seconds.

Sweden’s Fredricson was still out in front when Belgium’s Pieter Clemens set sail with just three left to go. Fredricson had demonstrated the benefit of a super-tight turn inside the oxer at fence four that shaved time off the run to the single remaining element of the triple combination at fence 11, and Clemens was well up on time when attempting that same line.

But his nine-year-old mare, Huide G, seemed to lock on to the final vertical that was facing her on the turn, and precious time was lost while the pair resolved the situation. “She didn’t really understand where she had to go,” Clemens explained afterwards, but they were still super-fast when breaking the beam without further ado in 46.09 seconds to take the lead.

Far from over

Second-last into the ring, Germany’s Christian Kukuk had seen another short route that meant cutting inside the last fence like several of those ahead of him, but then also turning inside the opening vertical, which left a super-tight turn to the penultimate oxer. He made it work brilliantly until a wild gallop to the last saw his extravagant grey gelding, Checker, kick out all the poles for four faults, so his quick time of 45.31 seconds was still not good enough for top spot.

As Jochems came into the ring, he had a clear plan. “I went in thinking I will risk it all; whether I win or have one down, I don’t want to be too slow.”

But it was the execution of his plan that was so incredibly impressive. His 12-year-old stallion never looked under pressure, or particularly fast, as the 26-year-old rider steered exactly the same course as Kukuk and with complete composure and conviction every step of the way.

The pair was in total harmony from start to finish, and when they crossed the line in 44.77 seconds for the win the spectators, who had been spellbound to the very end, exploded with appreciation. The young Dutchman had given his lovely horse a fabulous ride.

First

“This was my first World Cup today and I’ve had a fantastic show here in Oslo!” said Jochems. “Turbo had a great outdoor season and was placed in several 5* Grand Prix classes, and I was reserve rider in Barcelona at the Nations Cup Final. I had a bit of a mixed feeling being there because I didn’t ride (on the team), so it is great to win today!

“This was my first indoor show in a long time, so this is the best possible start to the indoor season,” he added. Now he’s looking forward to the coming months. “The Netherlands only has one spot in the World Cup series, so it will be difficult, but I was told that if I get some points in Oslo I can do more events, so we will see!” Jochems said. This brilliant result is likely to ensure he gets plenty more opportunities.

At the post-competition press conference, runner-up Pieter Clemens complimented Jochems. Looking back on how the jump-off played out, he said he wasn’t sure he would have been quicker than the Dutchman even if he hadn’t gotten into a muddle on that crucial turn. “My horse is fast, but Kevin rode a great jump-off and I’m very happy with second place. I got some points and I hope I will get the chance to do more qualifiers now,” he said.

Pleased

Third-placed Jens Fredricson was also pleased with his result. “I was delighted to be selected to ride here. I had a good outdoor season and was double-clear in the Nations Cup in Aachen, so things are definitely going in the right direction. For me it’s not so easy to get to the bigger shows because we have a lot of good Swedish riders, but this is a great start to have some World Cup points already,” he said.

Oslo Horse Show Event Director, Morten Aasen, was also a happy man. “I’ve had a few sleepless nights coming into the show. The situation has been so unpredictable, but when the (pandemic) restrictions were lifted a few weeks ago (in Norway), it was like a Christmas present!”

He was also delighted with the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ result. “I want to see new faces in the sport and the crowd wants to see young people beating the older ones!” he said. He got his wish, and it won’t be long before the action resumes with round two of the Western European League scheduled for Sunday 31 October at Lyon in France.

FULL RESULTS

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Five-Time Olympian Peder Fredricson’s Sensational Rise to World Number One

Photo: Peder Fredricson (SWE) (FEI/Christophe Taniere)

Peder Fredricson (SWE) has secured the number one spot of the Longines World Ranking for the first time in his career, taking the reins from Olympic bronze medallist, Daniel Deusser (GER), who took over the position for the third time back in June 2021 and now sits in second position.

Fredricson (49), who shot up the rankings last month from number 17 into second position, one that he has held frequently, is now at the top of this elite list on 3015 points, earning further recognition for his consistent performances this year, with one breathtaking ride after another.

”Finally! I can almost not believe it’s true. I’ve been close so many times before. Right now it feels incredibly good,” said Fredricson.

“To be number one on the world ranking is a goal I set a couple of years ago. It has at times felt like climbing the highest mountain in the world and I’ve almost reached the summit several times, but always fallen down. It feels amazing to finally reach the top and to be able to put down the flag.

“I dedicate this to my whole team. To be number one is something we’ve been working for during such a long time. It’s also very special that this success is made up of so many competitions with different horses during a whole year. To reach number one takes more than just good horses; you have to have good horse owners, good grooms, and a very dedicated and hardworking team on the ground. In that way, I rank this much higher than winning just one big class during one weekend. I’m very grateful to my team and we will celebrate this together.”

His trophy cabinet includes four Olympic medals, including team silver from the 2004 Athens Olympics and individual silver from the Rio 2016 Games, where he was the only athlete who was clear in all six rounds. Along with winning the individual silver at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in August this year, his outstanding performances helped Sweden to its first Team Jumping Olympic gold medal in almost 100 years, and marked 29 years after he made his Olympic debut at the age of 20 at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. Back then, he was an accomplished Eventer – and the youngest-ever Olympic equestrian athlete for Sweden.

With his loyal partner H&M All In, Fredricson was crowned the 2017 European Champion on home soil in Gothenburg (SWE), and took a silver medal with the team. He was a member of the Swedish squad that took team silver at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon 2018 (USA), and in 2019 at the FEI World Cup™ Final Gothenburg (SWE), he took bronze in front of his home crowd. More recently, he won the individual bronze at the Longines FEI Jumping European Championships in Riesenbeck (GER).

In 2016 and 2017, he received the Athlete of the Year award at the Swedish Sports Gala. The ‘Jerring Prize’, which is Sweden’s most prestigious sporting prize, is awarded for a successful sports achievement. He earned this honour by a popular vote which put him above the likes of Swedish football star Zlatan Ibrahimovic, golfing sensation Henrik Stenson, and rallycross champion Mattias Ekström. In February 2019, he was presented with the Medal of Honour from Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf. This month, Fredricson was one of four athletes nominated for the Peden Bloodstock FEI Best Athlete Award, which will be announced in November.

Born into an equestrian family, Peder started riding at the age of 5. His father Ingvar is a veterinarian as well as the former boss at Flyinge, the largest breeding station in Sweden. His brother Jens, also part of Sweden’s equestrian elite, competed at the London 2012 Olympics, as well as two FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals and FEI European Championships in 1997 and 2013. His wife Lisen, also a Jumping athlete, rode at the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000 and London in 2012.

The latest rankings reflect some strong performances with Martin Fuchs (SUI), Scott Brash (GBR), and Marlon Modolo Zanotelli (BRA) remaining in third, fourth, and fifth positions, respectively. A shuffle in the remainder of the top ten sees Steve Guerdat (SUI) take a leap from tenth to sixth spot on 2450 points, whilst Ben Maher (GBR) has dropped down to seventh with 2417 points. Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann has dropped by one spot to eighth place, and the USA’s Kent Farrington finds himself back in the top ten in ninth position, only 22 points behind the Swede. Belgian’s Jérôme Guery now sits at number ten this month.

The full rankings list is published here.

FEI Media Contact:

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

Swail Secures Second Straight Longines Victory in Sacramento

Conor Swail (IRL) and Vital Chance de la Roque. (FEI/Julia B Photography)

Conor Swail (IRL) and his mount Vital Chance de la Roque are beginning to develop a winning reputation. After opening the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ North American League season with a victory in Vancouver (CAN), the duo recorded a second straight World Cup victory in Sacramento (USA).

Swail and the enthusiastic 12-year-old gelding topped a thrilling four-horse jump-off in front of a packed crowd at the Murieta Equestrian Center. Using natural footspeed and agile turning, horse and rider seemed to read each other’s minds as they left out strides and shaved more than a second off Erynn Ballard (CAN) and Huberth B’s then-leading time. Swail and “Vinny” crossed the timers of Anderson Lima’s (MEX) shortened track in 36.12 seconds.

“He was wonderful here tonight,” Swail said of his mount, who has now won five grand prix contests since June. “He was probably one of the favourites coming in. I’m delighted that he’s living up to the reputation he’s making for himself.”

Ballard settled for second with her brand-new mount, an impressive feat considering she’d only begun riding the eye-catching bay two weeks ago; their time was 37.25 seconds. Her student Natalie Dean (CAN) and the talented Cocolina finished third as the only other double-clear performers on a time of 43.09 seconds.

“Erynn put up a tough enough round that I thought it was going to be another tough test,” Swail said, “but [my horse] handled himself extremely well.”

His World Cup results have now spanned two countries and two drastically different venues. In Vancouver, the duo navigated a spacious outdoor arena, while in Sacramento, they were met with a small, covered space. In both places, the pair delighted as Vinny complemented his efforts over the fences with playful bucking in between the fences, a trend Swail has come to both expect and respect.

“[Vancouver] was outside, and [course designer Peter Holmes (CAN)] built it quite like an indoor track I thought, but it’s still a covered arena here, and the crowd is up against you,” Swail said. “[My horse] is answering every question, and the crowd was awesome tonight. It’s wonderful having people back [in the stands]. We get a thrill out of it as well.”

Swail now holds a commanding lead in the North American League with 37 points. Ballard and Rowan Willis (AUS) sit second and third, respectively, both with 17 points. The North American League next heads east to Tryon (USA) on 30 October 2021.

FULL RESULTS

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

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

Olympic and Paralympic Champions Shortlisted for FEI Awards 2021

Photo: Winners at the FEI Awards Gala 2019 presented by Longines at the Kremlin in Moscow (RUS). Copyright: FEI/Liz Gregg.

Many impressive nominees are in the race for the FEI Awards 2021 as the online public voting opens today for the Peden Bloodstock FEI Best Athlete, Longines FEI Rising Star, Cavalor FEI Best Groom, FEI Against All Odds, and FEI Solidarity Awards.

The 20 shortlisted candidates from 12 nations include Olympic and Paralympic medallists, up-and-coming young athletes, Grooms, Organising Committees, Veterinarians, National Federations, and charities.

Peder Fredericson, who helped take Sweden to its first Team Jumping Olympic gold medal in almost 100 years in Tokyo, is one of four nominees for the FEI Best Athlete Award. The other nominees in this category are Eventing’s first female Olympic champion Julia Krajewski, who won individual gold for Germany in Tokyo, and compatriot Jessica von Bredow-Werndl, who took double Olympic gold in Dressage. Sir Lee Pearson, Great Britain’s ‘Godfather of Para Dressage’ and the most successful Para Dressage athlete of all time with 17 Paralympic medals, completes the list of nominees in this category.

The FEI received a diverse number of nominations for equestrian athletes, individuals, and projects this year and the winners will be announced at a highly anticipated gala dinner in Antwerp (BEL) on 17 November. This will be the first in-person celebration of the winners since the FEI Awards Gala 2019 presented by Longines at the Kremlin in Moscow (RUS).

The Longines FEI Rising Star category includes Greta Busacker (GER), who is the daughter of 2020 winner of the decade and Eventing legend Ingrid Klimke. And for the first time ever, this year’s nominees include two National Federations in the FEI Against All Odds and the FEI Solidarity categories.

The Japanese National Federation has been nominated for the support they provided to the Organising Committee of Tokyo 2020 to deliver safe and successful equestrian events, against all the odds created by the ongoing pandemic. The Hellenic Equestrian Federation nomination for the FEI Solidarity Award is in recognition of their efforts to evacuate 300 horses from areas in Greece rampaged by wildfires in August 2021.

The shortlisted nominees have been selected for their outstanding achievements on the field of play, inspirational outlook, and unparalleled dedication to equestrian and para equestrian sport.

The amazing stories of all the nominees in the five categories can be found here.

The public now has until 17 October to cast their votes for their heroes. Make sure you have your say and vote here!

The shortlisted nominees for the FEI Awards 2021 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.

  • Peder Fredricson (SWE), Jumping
  • Julia Krajewski (GER), Eventing
  • Jessica von Bredow Werndl (GER), Dressage
  • Sir Lee Pearson (GBR), Para Dressage

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

  • Sam Dos Santos (NED), 15, Vaulting
  • Greta Busacker (GER), 19, Eventing
  • Jimena Carrillo Watanabe (MEX), 14, Jumping
  • Marten Luiten (NED), 20, Dressage

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

  • Stephanie Simpson (USA), groom for Eventing athlete Boyd Martin (USA)
  • Jorge Luiz Gonzales (ARG), groom for Jumping athlete Matias Albarracin (ARG)
  • Kathleen Van Winden (NED), groom for Para Dressage athlete Sanne Voets (NED)
  • Marie Johansson (SWE), groom for Dressage athlete Patrick Kittel (SWE)

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

  • Beatrice de Lavalette (USA), Para Dressage
  • Laura Collett (GBR), Eventing
  • Japan Equestrian Federation
  • Dr Ruben Fausto Arismendi Garat (URU), Endurance Veterinarian

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.

  • Hellenic Equestrian Federation (GRE)
  • Sue Ockendon (CAN), founder of the Bromont Rising Program
  • Compton Cowboys (USA), community programme in Compton, Los Angeles
  • Equulus Charity ‘Pursuit of Dreams’ (CHN)

The winners will be decided by combining 50% of the public’s vote and 50% of the judges’ vote for the final result. The nine expert judges for this year’s FEI Awards are:

  • Ingmar De Vos (BEL), FEI President
  • Matthieu Baumgartner (SUI), Longines Vice President of Marketing
  • Peter Bollen (BEL), Founder and chief nutritionist of Cavalor
  • Martin Atock (IRL), Managing Director of Peden Bloodstock
  • Kyra Kyrklund (FIN), six-time Dressage Olympian for Finland, six-time FEI Dressage World Cup™ finalist and winner of the 1991 FEI World Cup™ Final
  • Andrew Hoy (AUS), eight time Olympian and team silver and individual bronze medal winner for Eventing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
  • Lucy Katan (GBR), founder of British Grooms Association (BGA) and the International Grooms Association (IGA) with the support of the FEI
  • Hannia Chinchilla de Wolf (CRC), President of the Federación Ecuestre de Costa Rica and FEI Solidarity Committee member
  • Wendy Laeremans (BEL), Belgium National Federation Sport Director & Chef de Mission

Media contact:

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

Dutch Deliver Another Magnificent Victory in Barcelona

The Dutch team in celebration mood after their superb victory. (FEI/Lukasz Kowalski)

For the third time since the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final was staged back in 2013, The Netherlands reigned supreme at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain. With the stoicism and quiet determination that has long been their trademark, the side of Maikel van Vleuten, Willem Greve, Sanne Thijssen, and Harrie Smolders held firm to take the coveted title that never loses its sparkle.

It was Smolders who clinched it with his anchorman ride, and it was a close-fought affair. Team Ireland finished a very close second when counting just a single time penalty at the end of the day, while the next two nations – Belgium and Sweden – only put four faults on the board.

“Horses generally jumped this course well today and you could see how close the teams were, and that makes our sport exciting,” Smolders said. When asked if he was confident he could clinch it with a faultless run from his 12-year-old gelding Monaco when last to go, he replied, “You have to be confident; that’s why they put you in that position, but then you have to finish the job and when you do, that’s how dreams come true!”

Slipped away

At the halfway stage of the competition, Sweden and The Netherlands were the only two sides without penalties, but when Angelie von Essen (Alcapone des Carmille) hit the middle element of the penultimate triple combination, and Rolf-Goran Bengstsson (Ermindo W) also faulted twice at the same obstacle, then Swedish chances slipped away.

When third-line Dutch team member, Sanne Thijssen, hit the middle element of that influential treble, then the pressure piled onto Smolders’ shoulders. Because the Irish were carrying just the single time fault collected by Eoin McMahon and Chacon 2, clears from pathfinder Denis Lynch (Cristello) and a brilliant last-line performance from Darragh Kenny (VDL Cartello) allowed Michael Duffy’s two mistakes with Zilton SL Z to be their discard.

Smolders didn’t flinch, however, taking the pressure and delivering the winning round when it was really needed. He put the Dutch team ethic into perspective when he said, “We all work hard, we stay patient, and we keep believing.”

The Irish looked really threatening in the closing stages. Kenny knew he needed a clear to keep them in the frame and, once again, he delivered. “On Friday my horse was fantastic and today he just got better and better as the round went on – he was flying! The team really pulled together and the lads rode fantastic. It was a great result, but the Dutch were brilliant!” the Irishman said. No-one could argue with that.

Took nothing

Van der Vleuten and Beauville Z claimed individual bronze at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and the Dutchman said that it took nothing out of the horse. “I was looking forward to this event in Barcelona and our Chef d’Equipe chose me as first rider for the team, so it was important to have a clear round, to give a good feeling to start the day.” Having done that, he then watched team-mate Greve do the same with Carambole. Talking about Greve’s great stallion, Van der Vleuten said, “If he was a person, he’d be a really nice one!”

Greve was over the moon about how his horse performed. “Being part of any winning team is always good, but for me this is very special because I have my horse a very long time, since he was four.

“I wish he could do the press conference because it’s not about me; it’s about the horse. I owe everything to him. I’ve had him since he was four and now he’s 17 years old and still jumping his heart out for me every time. For me, it’s very emotional that he shows in these days that he’s still one of the best horses in the sport, and he deserves a victory like this in the closing days of his career. I’m so proud of him,” he said, filled with emotion.

Delighted

Dutch Chef d’Equipe, Rob Ehrens, was delighted with this result after a sometimes difficult period for his team. “We had a bit of a struggle the whole year. We had good performances but still not everything came out the way we wished. But I must give big compliments to all our riders; we all fight together; we don’t have big names who, when they are winning, go in a completely different direction. It comes down to these five people for the perfect management of their horses, who want to everything for their country and who showed us today a marvelous performance.  That’s one of the strong pillars of the Dutch team,” he said.

“The only thing is we’d like to go back to the old formula, because we want to have it back on the Saturday evening because we want to celebrate, but now we have to go home!” he added with a laugh.

This year’s Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final had an extra buzz, because as Ehrens pointed out, everyone is so grateful that at last the sport is back and everyone is enjoying it again.

“Thanks to the organisers and the team in the arena. It’s a very easy thing to say we can’t do it because of the Covid problems, but everyone is very happy here and a big compliment to them all!” he said.

Champony

Before the action began, the crowd also got to meet Champony, the FEI’s new mascot which had the honour of ringing the bell for the first rider into the ring, Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts. And the children loved it. The Barcelona Final always attracts families to this event that has real festival appeal along with its offering of top sport, and Champony, gender-neutral because it represents a sport in which men and women compete on completely equal terms, really came to life.

Meanwhile, winning team member Willem Greve put this result, and the concept of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ series and Final, into perspective. “For me as a sportsman, nothing beats winning with your nation in a Nations Cup!”

Result here.

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Brilliant British Young Guns Clinch Challenge Cup

(L to R) Jack Whitaker, Harry Charles, Emily Moffitt, Chef d’Equipe Di Lampard, John Whitaker, and Holly Smith. (FEI/Lukasz Kowalski)

It was a night for the next generation at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final 2021 at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain when a team filled with fresh young faces claimed the Challenge Cup trophy for Great Britain.

Clear rounds from 22-year-old Harry Charles riding Romeo 88 and 23-year-old Emily Moffitt partnering Winning Good anchored the British scoreline. The four faults picked up by team pathfinders, 32-year-old Holly Smith and Denver, was all they had to count when posting a convincing victory without having to call on anchorman and longtime legend John Whitaker and Unick du Francport.

In the first round, things didn’t go Britain’s way, so they found themselves in the five-way battle between Division 1 teams when both Canada and Uzbekistan withdrew. It was a night filled with nervous tension, because one of those five nations would be relegated to the EEF Nations Cup series in 2022 when finishing last.

In a bizarre turnaround, the newly crowned European champions from Switzerland were amongst those battling to stay in the top league, and they were really feeling the pressure when they had to start with just a three-man side after Bryan Balsiger’s TwentyTwo des Bisches was unfit to compete. The electricity in the air in the closing stages was immense, but it was Team Italy who found themselves in the relegation spot when they put 43 faults on the board. Their place in Division 1 will be taken by the Czech Republic when the 2022 season gets underway.

France finished second with a finally tally of 10 faults, Norway finished third with 21, and the Swiss slotted into fourth with an uncharacteristic 25.

Looked set

The French were first to go, and with just single time faults from Penelope Leprevost (GFE Excalibur de la Tour Vidal) and Marc Dilasser (Arioto de Gevres), they looked set to discard the eight collected by Gregory Cottard (Bibici) when Mathieu Billot and Quel Filou set off as their last partnership. But the 15-year-old gelding was clearly not on form when putting in a stop, and when the pair retired then that handed it to the British.

The Swiss had to count all three of their results, with eight from Steve Guerdat (Victorio des Frotards), nine from Edwin Smits (Farezzo) and eight more from Martin Fuchs and Chaplin making up their unusually large scoreline. Fuchs and Guerdat were both on that gold medal winning European team in Reisenbeck, Germany just four weeks ago, but on different horses. Guerdat said that it was “a strange week for us here. I don’t want to say I was very confident, but you don’t expect us all to be that bad two days in a row. It was hard watching at the end,” he admitted.

But if it was a tough day for the reigning European champions, it was an even tougher one for Team Italy for whom nothing seemed to go right, with three fences down for Piergiorgio Bucci (Naiade d’Elsendam Z), 14 faults from Fabio Brotto 9Vanita Delle Roane), 17 from Antonio Garofalo (Conquestador), and retirement for Riccardo Pisani (Chaclot).

The British were at the other end of the spectrum, making it all look pretty easy, and John Whitaker, who at 66 has a lifetime of glory already behind him, joked about not having to compete when the rest of his side did all the hard work and left him on the sidelines.

Unbelievable job

“The three young ones really did an unbelievable job today. Yesterday didn’t really go to plan, but we were still fighting today – or at least they were fighting and they pulled it off in style!” said the man who first competed in Barcelona back in 1984.

His nephew Jack Whitaker, who turns 20 next week, was fifth man for the British side and there is a real sense of Team Great Britain rebuilding itself at last after a long period in the doldrums. As Holly Smith pointed out, “We haven’t been having the best time of it, but I think I speak for everybody: we are all so connected, and things will change and this is the start of it!”

Moffitt confirmed the sense of a new beginning too. “When we came here, we knew it was a case of sink or swim, but we swam so I’m happy with that!”

Talking about her 12-year-old gelding Winning Good, she said she was very disappointed when picking up five faults when Britain finished tenth of the 15 competing nations. “We know we are capable of a double-clear, but we are not robots and things can happen, and I was really happy that we were back to doing what we do best today – and my horse is the love of my life. Everything about him is amazing and he just wants to do it. He loves it so much!” she said.

Harry Charles has been really developing into a top-class rider over the last year, and his faultless rounds earned him a handsome €50,000 bonus which he admitted was very nice indeed. This was a watershed moment in his career for a number of reasons.

“I was under a bit of pressure as third rider today, but John was right behind us ready to go.

“Jack’s been my best friend for many years, so it’s been great to be on a team with him, and to ride with John on a team was one of my bucket list things – it’s such a great team to be part of!” he said.

Prizegiving

His father Peter Charles, former individual European champion and Olympic team gold medallist at London 2012, proudly pinned the Longines sash to his son’s jacket before the prizegiving ceremony. It was a huge moment for them both.

“My dad is my trainer and he’s been brilliant all my life. He kind of stopped his own career to help us, but he says he gets no bigger joy than watching us compete, so he really is the backbone of it all!” Harry said.

“I’ve been at this 5-Star level a couple of years, and I’ve got more consistent and have the horsepower now, so it’s starting to come through more than it previously did, and I’m getting more confident in the ring this summer as well. It’s all coming together really nicely, and I couldn’t be more excited for the future!” he continued.

He said getting the ride on Ann Thompson’s Romeo last year has turned everything around for him. “He’s the best horse I’ve ever had and he’s really taken me to a new level – in terms of experience, building up to a major championship, going to the Olympics as my first Championship, being around the other riders like Scott (Brash) and Ben (Maher). This Final is kind of like a mini-Championship here, coming on the back of Tokyo. I’ve learned a lot and it’s been a helluva year!” he added.

Proud

British Chef d’Equipe Di Lampard said she was really proud of her young side. “When they needed to, they stepped up to the plate in style, all of them, and with John in the wings – he obviously didn’t touch a fence tonight,” she pointed out with a laugh.

“It’s been progression, a new generation coming through; they’ve been consistent all year and it’s been a big learning year for them. Hopefully, we can look forward to big things next year,” she said. She had great praise for the exceptional skill of course designer Santiago Varela, who also built the tracks at this summer’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

She said to him, “We appreciate your courses; they’re so educational; they get the riders really thinking and they’re really kind to our horses too. We love meeting up with you Santi; you really do a great job!

“It’s always been on my bucket list to have a win here, so we’ve started with the Challenge Cup and hopefully we can come back and do more next year. On behalf of all the riders I’d like to thank Daniel (Daniel Giro, Show Director) for organising this wonderful event!” she added.

Results here.

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Germans Show Their Strength in Thrilling Opening Round

Daniel Deusser with Killer Queen VDM. (FEI/Łukasz Kowalski)

Team Germany strolled nonchalantly into Sunday’s deciding round of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final 2021, when heading the leaderboard after the first round at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain.

But for the newly crowned European champions from Switzerland, it was an entirely different experience when they finished 12th of the 15 competing nations, missing the cut into the top eight who will battle it out for the title on Sunday afternoon.

Instead, they’ll go into the Challenge Cup in which they won’t just be hoping to restore their supremacy. They will also need to ensure they finish ahead of Norway, Great Britain, Italy, and France, because one of those five countries will be relegated to the EEF series in 2022 when finishing last of the Division 1 teams at this year’s Final.

Powerhouse

With two of the greatest combinations in the sport right now in the German side – world number one Daniel Deusser with Killer Queen VDM and Andrew Thieme and DSP Chakaria, who recently claimed the individual European title – they were always a powerhouse, but few would have expected the host nation of Spain to be their closest challengers. Germany collected just two time penalties for the win, but Spain accumulated just three to finish second ahead of The Netherlands in third place with four, while Brazil slotted into fourth place with five faults.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic champions from Sweden racked up nine faults for fifth, while both the defending Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ champions from Ireland and Team USA collected 10 faults each, the Irish combined times giving them the advantage when they were almost four seconds faster. The eighth and last qualifying spot went to Belgium who shared a score of 12 penalties with Norway, but who were considerably quicker.

When the second Final competition kicks off, Germany, Spain, The Netherlands, Brazil, Sweden, Ireland, USA, and Belgium will all begin again on a zero score.

Masterminded

Longtime Barcelona course designer, Spain’s Santiago Varela, who also masterminded the tracks at this summer’s Tokyo Olympic Games, set them a test that Switzerland’s Bryan Balsiger described as “nice at the beginning but more technical at the end and the time is tight,” after posting a four-fault result with TwentyTwo des Bisches. He said the mood in the Swiss camp after their European victory in Riesenbeck, Germany four weeks ago was good. “We are friends and we worked together for the gold medal, but today is another show and another round and we need to fight to the end to get to the Final on Sunday.” However, that didn’t happen when his side racked up 19 faults.

The 80 seconds time-allowed proved difficult to get, and there were only seven clear rounds from 58 starters. The open water at fence five proved influential, as did the final line of fences from the massive triple bar at 11 to the double of verticals at 12 and the final oxer at 13.

Some made it look easy, however, and one of those was German pathfinder Deusser, and when team-mate Thieme collected just a single time fault, they looked very comfortable indeed. But David Will and C Vier 2 picked up nine faults so Christian Ahlmann needed to tidy things up when last to go for the German side with Clintrexo Z, cruising home to add just one more time fault for the winning score.

Impressive

Meanwhile, the Spanish were really impressive in front of their home crowd, Manuel Fernandez Saro providing the discard score when Jarlin de Torres put a foot in the water, but the remaining three – Ismael Garcis Roque (La Costa), Eduardo Alvarez Aznar (Legend), and Sergio Alvarez Moya (Alamo) – all only picked up a single time-fault each. Alvarez Moya’s Alamo is still only 13 but has a remarkable record, winning the FEI Jumping World Cup™ title for Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat in 2019 and always consistent.

Talking about the horse, Moya said, “Everybody loves him; he’s a great horse, a great competitor; he’s easy at home and a beautiful horse. He’s owned by me and Sergio Ramos, the best defender in the history of soccer who used to play for Real Madrid and who now plays with Paris Saint-Germain. He’s the player with the most games for the national team and a great guy too!” the Spanish rider said proudly.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic individual bronze medallists Mikael van der Vlueten and Beauville Z kicked off with a clear round for The Netherlands, and when Sanne Thijssen followed suit with Con Quidam RB, then the Dutch only had to count one of the four-fault results from Willem Greve (Carambole) and Harrie Smolders (Monaco) to qualify comfortably for Sunday.

Thijssen’s star has been rising rapidly this year, with sensational results from the 22-year-old athlete and her 15-year-old stallion. The pair had a successful run at Young Rider level together and she said she was selected for this prestigious Final because “my horse is in unbelievable form and he kept jumping clear and clear! He won the Grand Prix at Rotterdam and then at Oppglabeek and was second in the Grand Prix at Valkenswaard and he improved every time. I think we are a good combination together,” she said modestly.

And she’s an independent young lady. When asked if her father and former Dutch team rider Leon Thijssen is her trainer, she replied, “No, he likes to let me do my own thing and I always did from the beginning. I learn a little bit from everyone, but I don’t have one specific person that trains me and I like it that way!” she said.

Feeling the strain

As defending champions, the Irish were feeling the strain when pathfinder Denis Lynch was eliminated. But Darragh Kenny, the only member of their winning team from 2019 competing again this time around, saved their day with a brilliant anchorman clear from VDL Cartello, when Michael Duffy (Zilton SL Z) and similarly named Michael G Duffy (Lapuccino 2) put five faults each on the board.

Kenny felt the heat going into the ring. “I knew that I had to be clear if we were going to try to be in the next round, but the horse was already jumping fantastic in the warm-up, and I knew I just had to ride him well and he’d go the best he could. I was really happy with the way he jumped. We were a little unlucky with what happened with Denis, and the other two boys were great, and we just have to pray we qualify now,” he said. As it happened, they did.

He described Ireland’s Olympic effort this summer as “disappointing for all of us; we did our best going there and we had the best team we could, but it just didn’t work out and now we’re just trying to put it all back together again,” he explained. That makes this result in Barcelona all the more critical.

“Staying in Division 1 is very important for us. It’s important for our owners and horses and for us as riders, and for younger Irish riders to get the chance to get to bigger Nations Cup shows – it’s all very important for all of us,” he insisted.

That’s part of what makes the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ so appealing to every nation, and the decision about which country is relegated for 2022 will be made during the Challenge Cup.

Results here.

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Bubbling with Excitement ahead of Barcelona Final

Andre Thieme and DSP Chakaria. (FEI/Christophe Taniere)

The Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final 2021 promises to bring an incredible year of team Jumping to a close this week at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain.

Against all the odds in these Covid times, there has been spectacular team sport throughout the summer months, beginning with four thrilling legs of the Division 1 series in which Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, and The Netherlands all tasted success.

Then it was on to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games where Sweden pipped Team USA in a nail-biting showdown that went right down to the wire. And that was followed, just four short weeks ago, by the Longines FEI Jumping European Championships in Riesenbeck, German where Switzerland snatched team gold ahead of the hosts.

Barcelona presents the opportunity for some scores to be settled, and the horse/athlete combinations listed in the line-up of the 15 competing nations for the event which kicks off this Friday 1 October, and which runs through to Sunday 3 October, suggests it’s going to be yet another mighty battle at this much-anticipated season-closer.

Once the draw for order-of-go takes place on Thursday (30 September) the stage will be set for this annual clash of the giants of the sport.

Defending champions

Team Ireland arrive as defending champions, but it is two years since they stood on the top step of the podium and also claimed the last remaining qualifying sport for the Tokyo Games.

Darragh Kenny, ranked 12th in the world, is the only member of that 2019 winning side to line out again this year, and he will be joined by Denis Lynch and Michael G Duffy along with his near-namesake Michael Duffy and Eoin McMahon who were in the Irish side at Riesenbeck.

The full list of teams is Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Great Britain, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, USA, and Uzbekistan.

All ten from Division 1 (BEL, FRA, GBR, GER, IRL, ITA, NED, NOR, SWE, SUI) have automatically qualified for the Final this year, but relegation to the EEF series in 2022 is still on the cards for the tenth-placed nation from this group next Sunday, so that piles on extra pressure.

Canada and USA represent North/Central America, and Uzbekistan have earned their slot as clear winners of the 2021 Eurasian League.

Extraordinary form

The Belgian team includes world number 8, Jerome Guery, who has been showing extraordinary form with Quel de Hus this year, and Gregory Wathelet who finished individually ninth in Tokyo with Nevados S.

Harry Charles, Emily Moffitt, Holly Smith, Jack Whitaker, and his uncle, the legendary John Whitaker, will fly the British flag during the week, while Team France are likely to come out with all guns blazing. They had gold in their sights in Tokyo, but it fell apart in the closing stages, so Matthieu Billot, Frederic Cottard, Marc Dilasser, Penelope Leprevost, and Olivier Robert will be on a mission to put that to rights.

Maikel van der Vleuten, who took individual Olympic bronze in August with Beauville Z, will headline the Dutch selection, while America’s Laura Kraut and Baloutinue, who were so impressive in Tokyo, will also be ones to watch.

The Swedes look really strong, with two of their three Olympic gold medallists – Malin Baryard-Johhnsson and Henrik von Eckermann, who also finished fourth individually – in action again alongside Angelica Augustsson Zanotelli, Rolf-Goran Bengtsson, and Angelie von Essen.

Biggest battle

Possibly the biggest battle will be waged between the Germans and Swiss.

The hosts of the FEI Jumping European Championships had plenty to celebrate when Andre Thieme clinched the individual title with the fabulous mare DSP Chakaria on the final day. But Steve Guerdat, Martin Fuchs, Bryan Balsiger, and Elian Baumann pinned Germany into silver medal spot in the team competition and there was some banter going on between the two sides during that week.

Switzerland fields the same four athletes this week along with Edwin Smits, but Germany sends out world number one Daniel Deusser together with Thieme, David Will, Christian Ahlmann, and Kendra Claricia Brinkop and they’ll be keen to turn the tables and lift the coveted Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2021 trophy.

All teams, consisting of four horse/athlete combinations, will line out in the first round of the Final on Friday night, and those who place ninth and above will go through to Saturday’s Challenge Cup, while the top eight teams will qualify for Sunday’s title-deciding final competition which will begin at 15.00 local time.

Website here

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46