Tag Archives: FEI Nations Cup

Swiss Win Mighty Opening Battle at La Baule

Niklaus Rutschi and Cardano CH. (FEI)

In a spectacular start to the Europe Division 1 series, Switzerland pipped reigning series champions Belgium in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of France 2019 at La Baule (FRA) where the host nation lined up third.

Clear rounds are key to success, and there were plenty who managed to leave all the poles in place on the track set by crack French course designer Frederic Cottier despite a testing time-allowed of 75 seconds. But double-clears are even better, and when the Swiss posted two of the five recorded, thanks to superb efforts from team pathfinder Niklaus Rutschi (53) and anchorman Steve Guerdat (36), they beat the Belgians by a single penalty point.

It was Guerdat who clinched it when last into the arena, shouldering unbelievable pressure as only this man can. But it was Rutschi who set it all up with a fantastic performance from his 11-year-old gelding Cardano CH. He had every reason to be proud.

“It’s a dream come true! We have this horse since he was a foal and we are good friends together. Last year he was injured so he had a long break, but he’s right back to his best now. He’s one of the best horses in the world – he’s scopey, he’s careful, and he just needs his rider to his job properly!” — Niklaus Rutschi (SUI)

It was neck-and-neck between the Swiss and Belgians at the halfway stage when both sides finished the first round with four faults on the board. The Irish were close behind with five while last year’s La Baule winners from Brazil were sharing fourth place with the French on eight faults. Germany carried 10 into the second round, but the British and Canadians were already looking vulnerable with 18 and 19 faults respectively before the action resumed. However, the spotlight shone brightly on a new young British star when Amy Inglis (22) followed a first-round clear with a single time-fault in round two with her lovely mare, Wishes.

French hearts were lifted with three rock-solid second-round clears that saw them climb up the leaderboard when both the Irish and Brazilians faltered, but it was the Belgians and Swiss who would slog it out for the win in the closing stages, and it went right down to the wire.

A clear from Nicola Philippaerts and H&M Chilli Willi gave the Belgians a great start to round two. And when Niels Bruynseels’ second clear of the day from Utamaro D’Ecaussines was followed by just a single time fault from Pieter Devos and Claire Z, they looked bullish because even without the services of their final partnership, Gregory Wathelet and MJT Nevados S, they could finish on no more than five faults.

Rutschi’s second clear of the competition was followed by eight faults from Bryan Balsiger (21), but Paul Estermann (55) pulled it back for the Swiss with a foot-perfect run from Lord Pepsi and that set it up for one final showdown. If Wathelet could return a zero score, then the Belgians could discard Devos’ single time fault and it might just force a jump-off with the Swiss.

But the vertical that followed the 4-metre-wide open water had hit the dirt plenty of times during the day. “It was difficult because the horses were inclined to look at the crowd in the tribune behind, instead of at the fence,” Rutschi explained. And when that fell, then Devos’ four faults was the discard as only the best three results from each of the four-member teams are counted, and now Belgium were definitely finishing on those five faults.

So as Switzerland’s Guerdat rode into the arena with the brilliant mare Albfuehrens Bianca, with which he claimed individual bronze at last year’s FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon, USA, the result was hanging in the balance. A fence down and it would be all over, a single time fault and it would go to a jump-off, but a clear round would win it. And you could hear a pin drop as the London 2012 Olympic individual gold medallist and three-time Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ champion steered his fiery mare through the track one last time.

“Being able to give the win to your country is one of the best feelings. It’s for these kinds of moments that I love our sport!” Steve Guerdat said after clinching it, Bianca still bursting with energy as she bounced through the finish one more time.

This result puts Switzerland at the top of the Europe Division 1 league table at this early stage of the eight-leg series which now moves on to their home ground in St Gallen (SUI) in two weeks’ time. Each team in this series has four opportunities to collect points towards qualification for the prestigious Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final 2019 in October where, along with the much-coveted series trophy, one last Olympic qualifying spot will also be on offer.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Tickets for Strzegom Horse Trials – FEI Eventing Nations Cup on Sale Now

Poland, Strzegom, 16 May: From 15th May you can buy tickets for international equestrian event – LOTTO Strzegom Horse Trials – Nations Cup in Eventing.

LOTTO Strzegom Horse Trials is a competition in equestrian triathlon, Eventing. During this particular event there will be also a team competition taking place: Nations Cup. It’s the most prestigious and highest level Eventing show in Poland and one of the most important equestrian events in Europe. LOTTO Strzegom Horse Trials will take place in the Hippodrome in Morawa near Strzegom, Lower Silesia from 27th till 30th June.

The tickets are available on Ticketmaster.pl. Just go to https://www.ticketmaster.pl/event/12177. Pre-paid tickets will be sent by mail, courier company, or as a e-ticket to be printed out. Tickets are available in Empik stores too.

The admission on the first day is free, the price for Friday ticket is 10 PLN, single day tickets for Saturday and Sunday 15 PLN, and season ticket 30 PLN. Children under the age of 10 have a free entry.

Contact:
www.strzegomhorsetrials.pl
press@strzegomhorsetrials.pl

Magical Mexicans Make It Two-in-a-Row

Lorenza O’Farrill and Queens Darling. (FEI/Hector Vivas)

The host nation turned on the magic once again to win the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Mexico 2019 at Coapexpan with a gutsy and determined performance. The Mexican side of Patricio Pasquel (47), Manuel Gonzalez Dufrane (25), Lorenza O’Farrill (49), and Salvador Onate (41) produced a spectacular result, confirming their supremacy without having to call up anchorman Onate in the second round and pinning USA into runner-up spot while Canada finished third.

O’Farrill was hailed the hero of the day, her second-round clear with the 14-year-old gelding Queens Darling wrapping it all up nicely. But it wasn’t just the second consecutive Mexican success in the three-leg 2019 North and Central America and Caribbean League that she and her team-mates were celebrating; it was O’Farrill’s sensational return to the top end of the sport against all the odds.

“I’m out of myself with proudness and emotion!” said the lady who suffered a life-altering back injury when kicked by a horse leaving a prize-giving ceremony seven years ago. Her condition deteriorated to the point where she couldn’t walk, but after a series of surgeries, and now sporting six screws in her spine, the athlete who lined out at the FEI World Equestrian Games in Rome (ITA) in 1998 has now bounced back to her very best.

With just three teams in action, it was a compact but intense affair. Mexico and USA were on level pegging with nine faults apiece at the halfway stage, but the Canadians already looked vulnerable as the action resumed, carrying 14 faults from which they would never recover.

America’s Richard Spooner was foot-perfect both times out with his 10-year-old grey, Quirado RC, but the man whose nickname is “The Master of Faster” picked up a time fault in each round. Eve Jobs, at 21 the youngest competitor on the day, kicked out only the narrow vertical at fence six in the first round before returning to put in a copybook clear with Venue d’Fees des Hazelles. Nicole Shahinian-Simpson’s feisty mare, Akuna Mattata, fell afoul of the bogey oxer at fence nine that caught out so many in the first round and added five more in the second round and this brought the US total to 15 faults.

When O’Farrill followed Pasquel’s second-round clear with Babel, and another four-fault result for Gonzalez Dufrane and his sweet mare Hortensia van de Leeuwerk, with a superb clean run, the game was up.

The Canadians made a great recovery with second-round clears from Lisa Carlsen (Parette) and Nicole Walker (Falco van Spieveld), but it was too late as they completed on 22 faults. Alex Granato and Carlchen W rounded up the US effort with a 12-fault result, but the Mexicans were already home and hosed with their team total of 13, so Onate, who had racked up an uncharacteristic 12 faults first time out with Big Red, didn’t need to run again when listed last to go.

O’Farrill said that her comeback hasn’t been easy.

“I had to work on myself inside and out with physical therapy and mental training, but it’s been worth every minute!” — Lorenza O’Farrill (MEX)

Her husband bought Queen’s Darling as an 8-year-old, but they had a couple of falls so his wife took him over and began to enjoy some success. When she was going into surgery her husband promised that Queens Darling would be waiting for her when she was better and since she returned to the saddle she’s been working on the horse’s spooky nature – “I can’t change him so I use it to my advantage!” said the rider whose steeds are naturally supremely fit because they live 3,000 meters above sea level in Mexico City and whose other ride, the mare Calvira, won Friday’s Longines Grand Prix.

O’Farrill is now looking forward to the third and last leg which will take place in Langley (CAN) in a few weeks’ time where the result of the North and Central American and Caribbean League series will be decided. In the lead with 200 points on the board, Team Mexico holds the lead followed by USA on 170 and Canada with a total of 140 points.

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 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