Tag Archives: FEI Nations Cup

Team Germany Scoops the Honours in Abu Dhabi

Sven Schlüsselburg and Bud Spencer. (FEI/Martin Dokoupil)

On a day of high drama in Abu Dhabi, Team Germany pipped Ireland to win the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of the United Arab Emirates while the hosts and Saudi Arabia claimed the two qualifying spots on offer for the 2019 series Final in Barcelona (ESP) next October.

It was a convincing German victory as Mario Stevens (36), Sven Schlüsselburg (37), Miriam Schneider (38), and Philipp Weishaupt (33) took a firm grip on the leaderboard with just a single time fault to count in the first round, and they finished well clear of the chasing Irish who had to settle for runner-up spot with a final score of six. Schneider was particularly delighted, because she only got the call-up when her boyfriend, Jörg Naeve, had to withdraw from the team two days ago. She wondered if her lovely nine-year-old chestnut gelding, Fidelius G, was ready for this test.

“I hoped he was experienced enough; this was really my first tough course to do with him but over the last few days I had a great feeling with him – he was trusting me, and he showed me that again today!” — Miriam Schneider (GER)

It wasn’t just about winning, however, as four nations – Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates – were chasing just two places for teams from the Middle East region at the 2019 Longines Final in Barcelona (ESP) next October. UAE and Saudi Arabia each completed on an 18-fault total to clinch those spots, their quicker combined times leaving the hosts in third at the end of the day ahead of their Saudi neighbours in fourth place.

The 3.8m open water at fence four in the first round proved a challenge to many and Irish chances were rattled when David Simpson’s 11-year-old stallion, Jenson, took fright here and, losing his concentration and nerve, was eliminated a few fences later. But with the open water replaced by an oxer in the second round, the pair returned to post a classic clear over the course designed by Spain’s Santiago Varela at their next attempt.

Team Jordan’s chances of claiming one of the coveted qualifying spots were crushed when last-line rider, Ibrahim Hani Bisharat, was given the ejector-seat by his grey stallion, Chactino, over the oxer at fence five. And he wasn’t the only rider to hit the floor. Saudi Arabian pathfinder, Abdulrahman Bader Alrajhi parted company with Domingo when the gelding put in a stop, while Irish anchor, Mark McAuley, also got to eat some of the desert dirt.

Second-last to go, McAuley looked set to wrap up the now-recovered Irish effort with a lovely double-clear from Jasco vd Bisschop. But the talented 10-year-old suddenly seemed to see a ghost and pulled violently left in front of the very last fence. Miraculously the Irishman persuaded the horse to get airborne, but the pair landed in a heap of poles, and both looked completely mystified as they left the arena, fortunately unscathed.

There was no drama for the Germans, however, with Mario Stevens and Talisman de Mazure leading off with a clear and lowering only the new oxer at fence four second time out, and Sven Schlüsselburg giving a superb account of himself with just a single time penalty in each round with his handsome grey, Bud Spencer. Schneider had two fences down in the first round but Fidelius grew in confidence with every step, and this promising pair secured the top step of the podium with their lovely second-round clear even before Weishaupt headed back into the arena.

Weishaupt’s Catokia had been foot-perfect in round one, but after the 12-year-old mare who won Thursday’s Longines Grand Prix faulted twice at the triple combination, three fences from home, the world no. 31, and the most experienced rider on the team, opted to retire. Nothing to be gained, because the win was already in the bag.

The Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2019 series now moves on to Coapexpan (MEX) in early May where the second leg of the North/Central America and Caribbean League will take place.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Young Mexicans Are the Giant-Slayers at First Round in Wellington

Eugenio Garza Perez and Victer Finn DHZ. (FEI/Shannon Brinkman)

Impressive Israeli side finish second, Team USA third

Youth had its day when an exciting young Mexican team pinned some of the world’s most successful nations into the minor placings to win the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of the United States of America at Deeridge Farm in Wellington (USA). This first leg of the 2019 series, which will visit 12 venues around the globe before the Final in Barcelona (ESP) in October, was also the first leg of the three-round North/Central America and Caribbean League which will continue at Coapexpan (MEX) and Langley (CAN) in May. And Team Mexico really flexed their muscles when pinning an impressive new-look Israeli side into runner-up spot, and the reigning world champions from the USA into third.

You could hear them celebrating from a mile away, and in the animated post-competition press conference their supporters didn’t hold back, celebrating just as enthusiastically as they did when their country reigned supreme at the final leg of the Europe Division 1 series in Dublin (IRL) last summer.

Victory was sealed by double-clear performances from the two youngest members of Stany van Paesschen’s side, second-line rider Eugenio Garza Perez (23) riding Victer Finn DHZ and anchorman Manuel Gonzalez Dufrane (24) partnering the lovely grey mare Hortensia van de Leeuwerk. But all four played their part, with pathfinder Fernando Martinez Sommer (29) dropping just a single rail both times out with Cor Bakker, and Juan Jose Zendejas Salgado (25) foot-perfect at his first attempt with Tino la Chapelle before double-faulting in round two.

FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 course designer, Ireland’s Alan Wade, set a track that tested rideability, and the final line of a one-stride triple combination to big oxer proved the undoing of many. However, with three first-round clears the Mexicans were already in command at the halfway stage on a zero score, trailed by Ireland and USA on eight, Israel close behind with nine, last year’s Wellington winners from Canada on 12, and the three-member Colombian side already trailing the field with 16 on the board.

In the end the Mexicans held on tight, but Zendejas Salgado’s second-round errors at the open water and the following vertical meant that Gonzalez Dufrane was under a lot of pressure when last to enter the arena. If those eight faults had to be added to Martinez Sommer’s single mistake at the final element of the triple combination, then it would be a completely different story.

“I tried to keep calm and stay really focused – we have a psychologist to help us relax so I knew how to deal with it today,” Gonzalez Dufrane said after bringing his trustworthy 12-year-old mare home fault-free to clinch it.

Team Israel also had plenty to be pleased about, Daniel Bluman’s double-clear with Ladriano Z bolstering an impressive all-round performance that saw them add nothing to their first-round nine-fault tally for second spot. Team USA looked strongest at the outset, with super-stars Beezie Madden, McLain Ward, and Laura Kraut joined by young star Lucy Deslauriers. But single errors proved costly, so they will be hoping to turn the tables when their regional League moves to Mexico next time around. Only Mexico, USA, and Canada were entitled to qualifying points, so they claimed 100, 80, and 60 points, respectively.

Garza Perez, who trains with legendary Irish rider Eddie Macken and is the only member of the Mexican side to reside in the USA, said: “Today’s result is testament to the quality of the next generation of young Mexican riders.”

He was a member of the historic side that posted that spectacular win in Dublin last August. “That day was an inspiration to us all!” he pointed out. And now the main Mexican goal is a place at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final 2019.

“There’s an Olympic place on offer in Barcelona, and we intend to take it!” — Eugenio Garza Perez (MEX)

Meanwhile, Gonzalez Dufrane hopes to be selected for the next leg of the North/Central America and Caribbean series, “because it’s taking place in my home town.” After his double-clear he’s likely to be a contender.

The Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2019 series continues with the single qualifier for the Middle East which will take place in Abu Dhabi (UAE) on Saturday 23 February.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

New Series Bursts into Action at Wellington, Florida

Niels Bruynseels and Gancia de Muze. (FEI/Lukasz Kowalski)

All roads lead to Barcelona where final team ticket to Tokyo will be up for grabs

Deeridge Farm in Wellington (USA) is already buzzing with anticipation ahead of the first major team clash of the year when the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2019 series gets underway at the charming Florida venue Sunday (17 February). And the host nation is putting down a marker right away, calling up three of the four riders who claimed the team Jumping title in that unforgettable finale at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon (USA) last September.

Wellington stages the first of the three legs in the North America, Central America, and Caribbean League that will continue at Coapexpan (MEX) and Langley (CAN) in May. A total of six countries – Canada, Colombia, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, and USA – will line out this weekend, but only Canada, Mexico, and USA will be eligible for points in this regional leg towards qualification for the prestigious Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2019 Final in Barcelona (ESP) in October.

The star-studded US line-up includes team world champions McLain Ward, Laura Kraut, and Devin Ryan along with two-time Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ champion Beezie Madden and the legend that is Margie Engle.

So the rest will have to put in a super-human effort to keep them in check, with Canada fielding a side that includes Tiffany Foster and the on-form Mario Deslauriers, and Colombia naming Ilan Bluman and the experienced Teran Tafur in their selection.

At just 21 years of age, Cormac Hanley will be making his Senior Nations Cup debut on the strong Irish team, while Eugenia Garza Perez and Enrique Gonzalez will lend plenty of weight to the Mexican challenge. The most colourful side of all, however, is likely to be the Israeli team that includes the effervescent Danielle Goldstein who set the arena alight every time she appeared at the WEG in Tryon and who finished joint-third on that super-tough last day of competition, and 20th overall in the final individual rankings, with her brilliant mare, Lizziemary.

Wellington will be swiftly followed by the single Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2019 qualifier for the Middle East region in Abu Dhabi (UAE) on Saturday 23 February from which two teams will earn a place at the Final, while the seven-leg Europe Division 1 series will get underway at La Baule (FRA) on Friday 17 May.

Team Austria has been promoted to Division 1 after winning last year’s Division 2 Final staged in Budapest (HUN) and so joins France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and the 2018 champions from Belgium in this tough 10-nation contest. The top seven teams will make the cut to the series decider in October, but there’s even more hanging in the balance with the last remaining Olympic qualifying spot also on offer. It’s bound to be a mightier battle than ever in Barcelona this year.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Counting Down to the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup 2019 Series

Nicola Philippaerts of the winning Belgian team at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Barcelona 2018 Final (FEI/Lukasz Kowalski)

Celebrating the 110th season of team sport at its very best

The excitement is already building ahead of the opening round of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2019 series which will kick off at Deeridge Farm in Wellington, Florida (USA) next month. This top-class team sport, which combines national pride and passion with super-sharp competition, is as fresh as ever as it celebrates its 110th season.

Trust and understanding between horses and their riders, solidarity amongst the team members and their support crews, and the unique camaraderie between athletes from a wide range of countries as they challenge for the title they all want to win sets this series apart from the rest. It’s the battlefield of the greats, and each and every horseman and horsewoman want to place their names amongst those who have gone before them in pursuit of Nations Cup glory.

The Wellington fixture is part of the three-leg North America, Central America & Caribbean league that also includes a visit to Coapexpan (MEX) in May and to Langley (CAN) in June. There will be a single qualifier for the Middle East region at Abu Dhabi (UAE) in February, while the sole Europe Division 2 qualifier looks set to take place in Athens (GRE), with full details yet to be confirmed.

For the 10 Europe Division 1 teams the edge-of-the-seat action gets underway at La Baule (FRA) in May, and from there it moves on to St Gallen (SUI), Sopot (POL) and Geesteren (NED) in June, and then to Falsterbo (SWE) and Hickstead (GBR) in July. This league is always hotly contested, with emotions running particularly high when riders are flying their country’s flag in front of their home crowd. The last of the seven legs in this division will take place in Dublin (IRL) in August, and each team has been allocated four specific qualifying opportunities, with all four results counting in the battle for a qualifying spot at the 2019 Final.

The reigning champions from Belgium have been allocated points-gaining opportunities at La Baule, Sopot, Geesteren, and Hickstead, and after their heady win in 2018 they will be hoping to do it all over again.

Peter Weinberg’s “Never Give Up Team” demonstrated the very essence of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ concept when producing a gutsy, determined performance to clinch victory in the super-tough finale at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona (ESP) last October. They had only just climbed back into Europe Division 1 after relegation, so their victory was all the sweeter.

“We call ourselves the “Never Give Up Team” because we were fighting to the very last rider!” said the Belgian Chef d’Equipe that day.

For the seventh successive season the Final will return to the Spanish venue from 3 to 10 October this year, and there will be an extra-special edge to it. Because along with the hugely prestigious Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2019 trophy, the last remaining qualifying spot for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will also be up for grabs. This will go to the highest-placed team not already qualified, so as the race to earn a starting spot at the 2019 Final begins there is a whole lot hanging in the balance, and fantastic days of superb sport ahead.

Don’t miss a hoofbeat….

Calendar details here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Belgium’s “Never Give Up Team” Beats Them All in Barcelona

Team Belgium showering their Chef d’Equipe, Peter Weinberg, in a champagne celebration after winning the FEI Jumping Nations Cup 2018. (FEI/Jim Hollander)

French second and Ireland third in super-tight finish

Belgium won through on the tense and thrilling final afternoon of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final 2018 at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona (ESP). With all eight nations that qualified from Friday night’s first round starting again on a zero scoreline, and just one more round of jumping to decide the new champions, it was a roller-coaster ride over a big, challenging track set by Spanish course designer Santiago Varela. And in the best sporting tradition, it was impossible to guess the outcome until the very end.

Like so many of the other teams, the Belgians had mixed fortunes, Niels Bruynseels kicking off with a superb clear from Gancia de Muze, but both Pieter Devos (Claire Z) and Jos Verlooy (Caracas) each leaving three fences on the floor. However, last man in, Nicola Philippaerts, kept a cool head to bring H&M Harley v. Bisschop home with a foot-perfect run that would prove plenty good enough to clinch it.

“We call ourselves the ‘Never Give Up Team’ because in the middle we had two with 12 faults already but still we were fighting to the last rider, so this victory means a lot to us!” — Peter Weinberg (Chef d’Equipe, Team Belgium)

It seemed to have fallen into the lap of the Italians in the closing stages, as a clear from their anchor rider and last man into the ring, Lorenzo de Luca (Ensor de Litrange), would see them complete on eight faults to win it. But Varela’s extraordinary track was one that had to be ridden with absolute precision, and when, like so many before him, it unravelled for the Italian on the final line, his team completed on a total of 16. And because their combined times were slower than the French and Irish, this dropped them into fourth place ahead of the Dutch when all four teams finished on a 16-fault tally. Sweden and Austria slotted into sixth and seventh places when both posting 20-fault finishing scores and Switzerland lined up eighth and last when putting 32 on the scoreboard.

It’s no surprise that Varela has been selected as course designer for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The track was a masterpiece that questioned control, balance, judgement, and skill every inch of the way. As Varela pointed out, it wasn’t about the number of faults the riders collected. “A score of 8 or 12 didn’t mean they had a bad round; horses jumped unbelievably, but the course was difficult, tough and big… and everything was connected,” he explained. That was borne out by the number of riders who lost out over the last four fences where an oxer to a vertical could be tackled on a five long or six short strides, but where an error of judgement often led to mistakes at the penultimate double and final oxer.

In the end the Belgians were the only side that managed to produce two clear rounds – “and two clear rounds today was a super result!” Varela said.

Bruynseels was asked if he had a plan when setting off with Gancia de Muze to produce the first clear round of the competition. Bur apparently, he doesn’t really “do” planning with his brilliant but quirky 12-year-old mare.

“I have a little bit of a special horse, so she’s not like all the others. She has really a lot of temperament so I have to do my course and my round. So I don’t mind going first and I don’t have to see the other horses, because we always have a different plan!” — Niels Bruynseels (Team Belgium)

Philippaerts said his team-mates told him “everything is still possible” when he was last to go. “I just tried to ride my own class and it worked out well – today it was me that could make the clear round that would make a difference, and another time it will be one of the others,” he said. And he had even more reason to be pleased when sharing the €100,000 bonus for double-clear performances with team-mate Bruynseels, Sweden’s Peder Fredricson, and Italy’s new star, Riccardo Pisani.

This was Belgium’s second time to claim the Longines FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping title in Barcelona, their last in 2015. As Chef d’Equipe Weinberg said, “It was an interesting day, first ups and then in between downs, but in the end, we won anyway so it was really great sport!”

Result here.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Team Germany Clinches the Challenge Cup

Marcus Ehning riding Comme Il Faut. (FEI/Jim Hollander)

USA finishes second ahead of Brazil in third 

Marcus Ehning was the hero of the hour when clinching the Challenge Cup for Germany at the Longines FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Final 2018 in Barcelona (ESP) riding Comme Il Faut. Team-mate Philipp Weishaupt produced a foot-perfect pathfinding run from the lovely mare Asathir, but when Hans-Dieter Dreher left two fences on the floor with Berlinda and youngest team member Maurice Tebbel had a fence down and a time fault with Chacco’s Son, then all the pressure was piled on Ehning’s shoulders. He knew exactly what he had to do because he’s done it so many times before.

“I had to go clear to win the class. This last 20 years I’ve been doing the sport I’m used to the pressure. Especially this year I had a few rounds where I had to be clear and I was lucky I was clear, but I hope that will change and that in future years the pressure is on someone else!” — Marcus Ehning (Team Germany)

Of the seven competing nations there were two with just three team-members, Canada who started out that way in the first round of the Final and USA whose numbers were reduced when Jessica Springsteen and RMF Zecilie were a late withdrawal. But Alex Granato really rose to the occasion by steering Carlchen W through a foot-perfect round. So when all the US had to count was a double-error from Andy Kocher and Kahlua and a single time fault from Lucy Deslauriers with Hester, then their nine-fault total was good enough for runner-up spot.

That time fault was costly, however, because Deslauriers was the last of the five riders chasing down a €50,000 bonus on offer to anyone producing clear rounds. If she had been just that little bit faster, she would have had it all to herself.

Brazil lined up third on 10 faults ahead of Spain with 15, Canada with 16, Great Britain with 20, and the United Arab Emirates on a big score of 40 faults.

The Germans had mixed feelings about their success. The competition was open to the teams that did not qualify in the first round for the top-eight Final. Philipp Weishaupt said it was tough to miss the cut by such a narrow margin when time was taken into account after four teams completed with an eight-fault scoreline. “We missed out by less than a second, and it wasn’t so easy to keep the motivation up today. We put our breeches on in the hotel and came out to jump tonight but all the other teams had their jeans on. But we knew we had to do it and we knew we had to try our best,” he added.

Ehning, who along with Tebbel was a member of the German team that claimed bronze at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon, USA two weeks ago when their team-mate, Simone Blum, also took the individual title with the lovely mare DSP Alice, is one of the world’s most admired horsemen. He had the crowd spell-bound as he cruised at high speed around the track to bring glory to his country once again.

When asked how he prepared to go into such a pressure round, he explained that Comme Il Faut had been jumping too high in the practice arena, so he schooled him over small fences to get him to jump lower which would allow them to take on the course at greater speed.

“Especially at the first fence I wanted him to be fast. The time was a bit tight… but if you can flow with him then you just have to follow him and he makes it very easy for the rider; he’s a very clever horse!” — Marcus Ehning (Team Germany)

Meanwhile, his Chef d’Equipe described the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ series as “the biggest thing we have in our sport! All of our different stakeholders are fighting for it: the breeders, supporters, owners, the riders, the Chefs’ d’Equipe, the Federations, everybody. It’s something special to be in a team, to fight with a team, to lose or win together for your country. I love this!” Otto Becker said.

Result here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Italy and Austria Top Thrilling First Round, but Sunday’s Decider Will Be Whole New Ball Game

Julia Houtzager-Kayser and Sterrehof’s Cayetano Z. (FEI/Lukasz Kowalski)

“We won already!” said Austrian Chef d’Equipe Marcus Wallishauser after his team shared top spot with Italy at the end of the first round of competition at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final 2018 at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain. But there’s still a long way to go before the new champions are crowned on Sunday afternoon when the top eight teams return to the arena for the second and deciding round.

The Austrians and Italians collected just a single time fault each, and with just four faults apiece Sweden, Belgium, and The Netherlands have also made the cut along with the Irish who picked up five faults. But it came down to the combined times of team riders to separate the Swiss, French, Germans, and Americans when they all completed with eight faults on the board.

And when the calculations were done it was the Swiss and French who were signed up for Sunday afternoon, while the Germans and Americans will join Canada, Great Britain, Brazil, the UAE and host nation of Spain in the Challenge Cup for those that didn’t make it.

Wallishauser’s team booked their tickets to Barcelona when winning the Europe Division 2 qualifier in Budapest (HUN), but they were not hot favourites even though that victory in August was a convincing one when they trounced the opposition with a zero score.

“For us to be in the final is already perfect – now we just need to focus like we did today and let’s see what we can do!” said the Austrian team manager who is hoping that Roland Englebrecht (Chambery), Julia Houtzager-Kayser (Sterrehof’s Cayetano Z), Felix Koller (Captain future 3), and Max Kuhner (PSG Final) can continue this run of great form.

But as Italian anchorman, Lorenzo de Luca, pointed out, the next challenge from Spanish course designer Santiago Varela is going to be considerably more testing.

“There’s still a big day ahead – Sunday is going to be huge!” — Lorenzo de Luca (Team Italy)

He picked up four faults with Ensor de Litrange but was under absolutely no pressure when last to go because team-mates Luca Marziani (Tokyo du Soleil) and Riccardo Pisani (Chaclot) had both jumped clear while Bruno Chimirri (Tower Mouche) clocked up just a single time fault. So that was all they would have to put on the board when the best three scores were taken into account.

“It was a very good night for Italy; my team all jumped great so I didn’t have to jump but I decided to bring my horse in to let him see the fences. We are going to celebrate tonight but we will still be focused for Sunday, I promise you!” de Luca added.

In stark contrast to the Italian rider, Irish anchorman Darragh Kenny had no room for error when he came into the ring. With five faults already on the board, another four would leave his team well outside the qualifying zone, but he kept a cool head to steer Balou du Reventon through the finish with nothing to add. “Our goal was to get into Sunday; that was the most important thing for us so we were very happy we did that. We have a great team and we’re all working really well together so I think we should do well. We’ll go out there trying to do our best and see what happens, that’s for sure!” he said.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

New Champions to Be Crowned and Scores to Be Settled at Sizzling Spanish Showdown

Felipe Amaral and Premiere Carthoes BZ, pictured at the qualifier in Ocala, Florida (USA) earlier this year. (FEI/Shannon Brinkman)

Like the annual gathering of the clans, Jumping riders from all around the globe are descending on the beautiful city of Barcelona in Spain for this week’s Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final 2018. For the sixth year in succession, this celebration of all that’s best in team sport takes place in the quietly sophisticated surroundings of the Real Club de Polo, venue for Jumping at the 1992 Olympic Games.

But coming just two weeks after the FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG) in Tryon, there’s an extra edge to it this time around. There are points to be made, scores to be settled, and muscles to be flexed, especially for the countries that had high hopes going to the USA last month only to have them dashed when the pendulum of sporting fortune didn’t swing in their direction.

The defending Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ champions from The Netherlands didn’t make it onto the Tryon podium but they did manage to claim one of the six qualifying spots for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. And Chef d’Equipe Rob Ehrens clearly means business again this week, bringing three of his Tryon team – Marc Houtzager, Frank Schuttert, and World No. 1, Harrie Smolders – along with Leopold van Asten and Maikel van der Vleuten.

The Swiss looked set to carry off WEG gold but had to settle for fifth in the final analysis, although the individual silver and bronze medals collected by Martin Fuchs and Steve Guerdat demonstrated their super strength and commitment.

Guerdat’s loyalty to the Nations Cup format is second to none, and the London 2012 individual champion will be back in the ring this weekend giving it everything he’s got along with Paul Estermann, Bryan Balsiger, Arthur Gustavo, and Barbara Schneiper. We won’t be seeing the newly-crowned individual world champion Simone Blum, but her Chef d’Equipe, Otto Becker, will be keen to follow up WEG team bronze with a strong result from another formidable German side that includes Hans-Dieter Dreher, Marcus Ehning, Maurice Tebbel, Andre Thieme and Philipp Weishaupt.

And the Irish will be there. The reigning European Champions missed out on a ticket to Tokyo when finishing seventh at the WEG – “We will be trying to try to erase the bad taste that our result in Tryon has left,” said team manager Rodrigo Pessoa, after confirming his selection of Shane Breen, Anthony Condon, Darragh Kenny, Billy Twomey, and Michael G Duffy last week.

The real tension may well be between the Americans and Swedes. It took an edge-of-the-seat jump-off to separate them in the battle for world championship gold, and it would be very sweet revenge if the Swedes could turn the tables this time out.

So Henrik Ankarcrona has selected Jonna Ekberg, Peder Fredrison, Stephanie Holmen, Irma Karlsson, and Erica Swartz who will be on a mission. American confidence should be at an all-time high, however, and although Laura Kraut is the only member of that gold-medal-winning Tryon team to be called up again this week, she and her compatriots Lucy Deslauriers, Alex Granato, Andrew Kocher, and Jessica Springsteen should have an extra spring in their step.

A total of 15 nations – Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, and USA – will line out when the first round of the Final gets underway at 20.00 local time on Friday evening. Teams go in order of the draw that takes place Thursday evening, and only the top eight nations will qualify for the series title decider on Sunday afternoon.

The remaining sides will compete in Saturday night’s Challenge Cup, and with €1,700,000 in prize money on offer, it promises to be a superb weekend of sport. It will be another interesting one for America’s Lucy Deslauriers as the 19-year-old will compete against her father, Mario Deslauriers, who will line out for Team Canada and who was just 19 years old himself when setting a record, that still stands, as the youngest ever rider to win the coveted Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping trophy back in 1984.

Following an agreement announced last year, Longines became the brand new long-term title partner of the FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ series, and after 13 qualifiers on three continents, this 109th season of Nations Cup Jumping is coming to a thrilling climax.

It’s going to be spell-binding so check out the full entry list here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Awesome Austrians Win Europe Division 2 Final in Budapest

Felix Koller with Captain Future 3. (FEI/Martin Dokoupil)

Team Austria earned promotion to Division 1 next season with a definitive victory at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Hungary in Budapest (HUN). And they’ll join their Hungarian hosts at the Longines 2018 World Final in Barcelona (ESP) in eight weeks’ time, as the top two teams in this Europe Division 2 decider are entitled to contest the lucrative annual clash of champions.

Three clears in the first round gave the Austrians the early edge and they didn’t flinch to finish on a zero scoreline. It was a superb weekend for anchorman Max Kuhner (44).

“I’m feeling pretty good because I won the Longines Grand Prix on Friday with Cielito Lindo and now I’m on the winning Nations Cup team with PSG Final!” — Max Kuhner (AUT)

All the more creditable was the fact that his Nations Cup horse is just an eight-year-old, the lovely bay gelding securing one of those pivotal foot-perfect runs in the opening round. It was Christian Rhomberg (27) who led the way for the winning side with an eight-fault result from Saphyr des Lacs, but when Julia Houtzager-Kayser (44) and rising star Felix Koller (21) made no mistake, then Kuhner wrapped up the early advantage.

However, the Hungarians were in hot pursuit as round two got underway, sharing a four-fault tally with Portugal and the Czech Republic while Norway was next in line carrying nine. The Norwegian side was almost a completely Gulliksen-family affair with son and daughter, Victoria and Johan-Sebastian, joining their father Geir along with Lisa Ulven. And they just missed the cut to the Barcelona Final when completing with 13 faults, only one point behind Hungary at the end of the day. Portugal finished fourth while Czech Republic had to settle for fifth ahead of Poland, Greece and the three-man Bulgarian team who brought up the rear.

The course designed by Germany’s Werner Deeg had some difficult lines as Houtzager-Kayser explained. “The water to the double at fences six and seven, and the line from the triple bar to the vertical and the oxer from eight to ten – none of that was easy!” she pointed out. However, she was well-pleased when her 14-year-old stallion Sterrehof’s Cayetano Z racked up an impressive double-clear, the only other coming from the 11-year-old Captain Future 3 ridden by team-mate Koller.

This young man, who has been based with the legendary Paul Schockemohle in Germany for the last six months, claimed individual Young Rider bronze at the Longines FEI European Championships in Fontainebleau (FRA) four weeks ago and looks to have a big future ahead of him.

“This was my first 5-Star Nations Cup and my horse was amazing; he is owned by my Austrian sponsor and he always gives his heart to me whenever we go in the ring!” — Felix Koller (AUT)

The prospect of fielding a team at the Longines 2018 Final in a few weeks’ time and of competing in Europe Division one next year all seemed quite overwhelming because Austria has a limited number of horses and riders at the top end of the sport. “Christian and Max will be competing at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon so we may have to find different horses for Barcelona, but this is so exciting – I can hardly believe it!” Koller said.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Mexicans Live the Dream in Dublin

Patricio Pasquel celebrates in a sombrero after jumping two brilliant clear rounds with Babel. (FEI/Jon Stroud)

They arrived as complete underdogs to take on many of the best nations in the world, but Team Mexico turned the sport on its head when winning the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Ireland in Dublin (IRL). This last leg of the Europe Division 1 series was electrifying from beginning to end, and incredibly tense in the closing stages with the home crowd willing their own boys to win it.

But Eugenio Garza Perez (22) and his veteran team-mates Federico Fernandez (50), Patricio Pasquel (46) and Enrique Gonzalez (54) enjoyed the warmest reception, including a great big Mexican wave, from the 20,000 spectators when producing three second-round clears to pin Ireland, France, and Italy into joint-runner-up spot. Mexico had never won at the Irish fixture before and it was 37 years since they last contested the coveted Aga Khan trophy at the historic Royal Dublin Society showgrounds. So along with their delighted Chef d’Equipe Stany van Paesschen they didn’t hold back on the celebrations afterwards.

“I’ve been doing this sport a long time and I’ve never had a day like this!” said Gonzalez, whose last-to-go effort proved the clincher. “The Mexicans were really incredible; they came back in the second round with real determination and when you’re in contention in a Nations Cup that’s how you have to ride,” Irish Chef d’Equipe Rodrigo Pessoa added.

It seemed the reigning European Champions from Ireland would have it all their own way when they cruised into the lead on a zero score at the halfway stage, with Italy snapping at their heels on four faults followed by USA, Mexico and France carrying eight apiece. The Swiss, British, and Dutch were already down the line, eventually finishing sixth, seventh and eighth while USA slotted ahead of them in fifth despite being hampered by elimination for Jamie Barge (Luebbo) at the water in both rounds.

Mexican pathfinder Garza Perez (Victer Finn) showed a dramatic improvement from his 12-fault first-round effort when clear second time out, and when Pasquel (Babel) produced one of four double-clears of the day and Gonzalez (Chacna) wrapped it up by also being foot-perfect all the pressure was on the Italians and Irish. And both faltered, adding four faults to complete along with France on a total of 12 as Team Mexico made history and a whole lot of new Irish friends.

“It’s a dream come true. Since we got the invitation we have not stopped dreaming about this moment. We worked hard to be here and we enjoyed every second!” said Fernandez who posted two four-fault scores with Landpeter do Feroleto. This is a very unique horse-and-rider partnership; both are survivors. Federico was involved in a devastating air-crash that left many dead in 1987, and Peter, as the horse is known, also suffered serious injury in a lorry accident that nearly took his life. The pure joy of success was written all over every Mexican face, and Federico was in tears at the post-competition press conference.

“After what happened to me I feel an obligation to be happy, and today was one of the happiest days of my life!” he said. Garza Perez was happy too because he is trained by Irish showjumping legend Eddie Macken and was disappointed with his three mistakes in the first round.  But he put it all right when clear at his second attempt. “I was anxious not to let Eddie down and I hope today was as good for him as it was for me. It’s really out of a dream; it’s incredible!”

This result confirms Belgium as winners of the Europe Division 1 series with Ireland finishing a close second, just five points behind. Switzerland, France, Netherlands, Great Britain, and Sweden fill the next five places on the leaderboard and all seven countries will compete at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final in Barcelona (ESP) in October. However, Germany and Italy have missed the cut and the Spanish who have finished last at the end of the 2018 season will be relegated to Europe Division 2 next year.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145