Tag Archives: FEI

Brilliant Young Balsiger Wins Oslo Opener

Bryan Balsiger with Clouzot de Lassus. (FEI/Satu Pirinen)

It was a really big day for Switzerland’s Bryan Balsiger who galloped to victory with the gallant grey gelding, Clouzot de Lassus, at the first leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2019/2020 Western European League in Oslo, Norway.

In a super-hot 12-horse jump-off, the 22-year-old from Neuchâtel near Lausanne threw down a brilliant round when third to go, and despite their best efforts, the rest of the world-class field couldn’t catch him.

He wasn’t the obvious winner on the start-list for this first leg of the 14-leg league from which nine riders will qualify for the Longines 2020 Final in Las Vegas (USA) next April. But this is a young man whose star is clearly on an upward trajectory, and he put himself squarely in the limelight when making only his second-ever World Cup start a winning one, pinning Portugal’s Luciana Diniz into runner-up spot while home hero, Geir Gulliksen, finished a crowd-pleasing third.

Balsiger was full of praise for the 11-year-old horse he has been competing now for over three years.

“He gives me 200 percent at every show and together we have won gold at the Young Rider Europeans and at the Swiss Championships, but this is the biggest win of our career! He’s so brave, and he gives his heart for me every time!” — Bryan Balsiger (SUI)

The time-allowed 78 seconds proved difficult to get in the first round over the course designed by Italy’s Elio Travagliati, so there was a huge cheer from the home crowd when Gulliksen squeezed through the finish in 77.98 to make the cut into the jump-off with the nippy little VDL Groep Quatro.

Balsiger and Clouzot put it up to the rest of them when setting the target at 40.00 seconds when third to go in the second-round race against the clock. And Gulliksen looked set to challenge that with a great run from Quatro when next into the ring, but the clock stopped on 40.99 seconds so when Diniz steered her 10-year-old gelding, Vertigo du Desert, through the timers in 40.40 then the Norwegian slipped down to third. There was still plenty more excitement to come, however.

Brazil’s Marlon Modolo Zanotelli, who claimed both individual and team gold at this summer’s Pan-American Games, set off at a scorching pace but, hampered by a stumble after the third fence, hit the first element of the following double and still managed to clear in the line in 40.26 seconds. And then French rider Olivier Robert, who had already made a miraculous recovery when jumped out of the saddle over the penultimate oxer in the first round, experienced almost exactly the same result over the same fence second time out to come home clear but in a time of 42.64 with Tempo de Paban.

It did seem the leading time was beatable and, third-last into the ring, Sweden’s Peder Fredricson and H&M All In, proved it was beatable when breaking the beam in 38.47 seconds. But the 2016 individual Olympic silver and 2017 individual European gold medal winning partnership left the first element of the double on the floor, so when Germany’s Christina Kukuk and Colestus had a stop at the third then there was only one man to challenge Balsiger. His compatriot and world no. 1, Steve Guerdat, partnering the horse with which he won his third Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ title in Gothenburg (SWE) earlier this year.

Setting off at a cracking pace, Guerdat and Alamo looked seriously threatening until finding themselves on a wrong stride to the vertical before the double. So when the poles came tumbling down it was Balsiger’s time to shine.

He reckoned his plan to do seven strides from that vertical to the following double was where he clinched it. “I knew there were a lot of faster riders, so I had to take a risk and I’m really happy it worked out for me!” Balsiger said. And he expressed his gratitude to his father, Thomas, who is his trainer. “I can always trust him and all my family and the others around me who help me a lot – they make it happen for me!” he pointed out.

Third-placed Geir Gulliksen was a happy man too. “This has been the best-ever World Cup here in Oslo and it’s the last one in my 50s, but it’s not the last one I’ll ever do!” said the rider who has been the rock on which the Norwegian team has relied for many years now and who will turn 60 next January.

FULL RESULTS

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Bond Records Brilliant Longines Victory in Del Mar

Ashlee Bond and Donatello. (FEI/JXB Photography)

Heading into a five-horse jump-off, Ashlee Bond (ISR) didn’t get to watch the riders ahead of her before entering the ring aboard 8-year-old Donatello.

“My mentality these days is just to go do what I feel is right for me and my horse in the moment,” she said. “Tonight, I just felt a little bit more confident.”

Bond executed her plan to perfection, galloping home to a dominant victory in the $100,000 CSI3*-W Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Del Mar (USA). She and her partner of more than two years crossed the timers of Alan Wade’s (IRL) shortened course in 38.82 seconds. Nikolaj Hein Ruus (DEN) and Cadillac claimed second as the only other double-clear performers on the night, finishing in 43.27 seconds. Keri Potter (USA) and Ariell la Sirene finished third in the mare’s World Cup debut; they finished with 4 faults in 44.58 seconds.

“I’m a little speechless. [Donatello] is really a superstar.” — Ashlee Bond (ISR)

“Donnie” was making just his second World Cup appearance in Del Mar after debuting at the level in the North American League’s season opener at Vancouver. The quick win reaffirmed Bond’s belief in the gelding, for whom she has both World Cup and Olympic aspirations.

“As a 7-year-old, he really developed quickly,” Bond explained. “Then this year, everything I ask of him — it might take him a round or two to figure it out, but once he does, he logs it into his computer, and then he makes my job easy.”

Karl Cook (USA), who won in World Cup competition at Sacramento just two weeks ago, notched his third top five finish this season to maintain his strong lead in the west coast sub league standings of the North American League. He boasts 49 points. Bond moved into second place in the standings with 31 points, while Zazou Hoffman sits third with 26 points.

“Today, [Donatello] just proved that we’re on the right trajectory,” Bond said.

The North American League continues in Washington, D.C. (USA) on Saturday, 26 October 2019.

FULL RESULTS

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

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

Guerdat Heads Sparkling Line-Up for Western European League Opener in Oslo

Steve Guerdat. (FEI/Christophe Taniere)

14 qualifiers in 11 countries en route to Las Vegas Final

Testament to the perennial attraction of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ series, World No. 1, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat, has signed up for the opening leg of the new Western European League qualifying season which kicks off in Oslo, Norway this weekend. The man who has topped the Longines world rankings since the beginning of 2019 has an extraordinary record in the series, and this season he has history in his sights. He is a three-time winner, and if he can add a fourth victory, he will be the first rider ever to do so since FEI World Cup™ Jumping began back in 1978.

As defending champion, he is automatically qualified for the 2020 Final which returns to Las Vegas, USA next April, and this is a place that holds great memories for him. Because it was here, at the Thomas & Mack Centre, that he secured his first title in 2015. Guerdat thrives on the tension and excitement created by the close confines of indoor jumping in which speed, accuracy and a mutual understanding between horse and rider are tested to the limit.

Spectators are in for a real treat, as the London 2012 individual Olympic champion has already committed himself to lining out at all of the early-season qualifiers.

Belgium’s Francois Mathy Jr. and the Philippaerts brothers Olivier and Thibault are also travelling north for the Oslo opener at which the host nation’s Gulliksen family of father Geir and son and daughter Johan-Sebastian and Victoria will be flying the Norwegian flag. Heading up a strong Swedish selection will be 2017 European champion Peder Fredricson, along with Henrik von Eckermann who stood on the third step of the podium at the Finals in both Omaha (USA) in 2017 and Paris (FRA) in 2018.

French star, Kevin Staut, is always a consistent campaigner in this series and will be joined by compatriot Olivier Robert. Fresh from the brilliant performance that saw them clinch the Challenge Cup for the hosts from Spain at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final in Barcelona earlier this month, Sergio Alvarez Moya and the exciting Jet Run will also be in action.

A total of 40 horse-and-rider combinations from 18 countries will compete at this first of the 14 legs that will be staged in 11 countries, as riders battle for one of the 18 qualifying spots on offer. It’s a hectic calendar of events, with Helsinki (FIN) hosting the next round a week later and Lyon (FRA), Verona (ITA), and Stuttgart (GER) following in November. Spain then hosts two legs, in Madrid and La Coruna, in early December before the action moves on to London Olympia (GBR) just before Christmas and then to Mechelen (BEL) immediately afterwards.

As the new year begins there will be still five more legs to go, beginning with Basel (SUI), Leipzig (GER), and Amsterdam (NED) in January and then on to Bordeaux (FRA) and finally Gothenburg (SWE) in February. Just over a month later horses will fly out to the USA for the Final which is always guaranteed to be a thriller.

While Guerdat may be the headliner this weekend, his compatriot Martin Fuchs is bound to be a show-stealer when he rocks up the following week. The 27-year-old chased Guerdat all the way to the line when finishing second at the 2019 Final in Gothenburg, and having followed his individual silver medal success at last year’s FEI World Equestrian Games™ with individual gold at this summer’s FEI European Championships, this is a young man on fire.

He has committed himself to competing at Helsinki, Lyon, Verona, and Stuttgart, so he also clearly has his sights set on adding his name to the list of legends who have won the indoor trophy they all want to claim – the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup.

Masterlist for Leg 1, Oslo here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

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