Tag Archives: FEI Nations Cup

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

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
+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
+41 78 750 61 46

Defending Champions from Belgium Top First-Round Nail-Biter

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

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

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 Team Portugal has withdrawn from the competition.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
+41 78 750 61 46

The Battle of Barcelona Promises to Be Epic

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

Olympic qualification adds extra spice to much-anticipated Longines Final

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
+41 78 750 61 46

British Fight Back from the Brink with Last-Gasp Dublin Win

(L to R) Scott Brash, Holly Smith, Di Lampard (Chef d’Equipe), Emily Moffitt, and Ben Maher.

“We had a task to do, and we did it in style!” said British Chef d’Equipe Di Lampard after her team posted a superb victory in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Ireland in Dublin (IRL).

On a thrilling afternoon at the elegant Royal Dublin Society showgrounds, and in front of a packed house of screaming spectators along with dignitaries in top-hats and tails, they won by a country mile, counting just a single time fault, and without having to send their final rider into the ring. Italy finished second on a 12-fault total, Ireland collected 16 faults for third and the Swiss, Dutch, Mexicans, and Swedes filled the remaining places in that order.

Courses designed by Ireland’s Alan Wade are never for the faint-hearted, and the intense atmosphere, the scale of the arena and the beautifully-created fences also present a formidable challenge at the prestigious Dublin venue. But with their backs to the wall, the nation placed last on the Europe Division 1 table proved that when the chips are down, they have what it takes, and this result has ensured qualification for the all-important Longines series finale in Barcelona (ESP) in October.

“We’ve ridden the storm this season, we’ve had the downs and the difficulties, but it had to change some time and with a good team and the right spirit I felt it was going to come right this week, and it did!” said Lampard after accepting the coveted Aga Khan Trophy at the prizegiving ceremony attended by The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins.

With clears from Scott Brash (Hello Jefferson), Emily Moffitt (Winning Good), and Holly Smith (Hearts Destiny), the mistake by Ben Maher (Concona) at the final element of the penultimate double could be discounted to leave her team clearly in command on a zero score at the halfway stage. Italy went into round two carrying four, followed by the Irish with eight and Switzerland with nine on the board. But once they had a grip on the lead, the British were never going to let go. This was the last leg of the seven-round Division 1 series, so it was all or nothing.

Maher’s inexperienced nine-year-old mare came home with just a single time fault second time out, so when both Brash and Moffitt each produced another foot-perfect run then the game was already up. Not only had they bagged the coveted Aga Khan Cup for their country for the 27th time in the 93-year history of the event, but the 100 points they collected lifted Great Britain up to seventh place on the leaderboard from which the top seven of the 10 competing nations qualify for the €2m finale in Spain.

The other teams to qualify from this league are Switzerland, Italy, Ireland, France, Belgium, and Sweden. The three countries that have not made the cut are The Netherlands, Germany, and Austria.

“With the win we secure a place in the Barcelona final and we were determined to carry that out – the Aga Khan trophy was always coming home with us!” said Lampard. As she pointed out, there’s been something of a generational shift going on in British showjumping.

“Over the last three years we’ve been producing young riders and a larger squad of riders, and you can’t rush these things. They need the right horses and they need owners to stick with them and that all takes time,” she explained. The changing of the guard can indeed be a painful process, but the result showed that British showjumping is definitely on an upward curve once again.

Moffitt was outstanding; the 21-year-old rider who is trained by team-mate Maher showed great maturity as she steered the hard-pulling Winning Mood through two tough rounds. “He’s very much a fighter, and I have to rein him in a bit!” she explained. Maher was delighted with his student’s performance. “Riding is the easy bit; shouting from the sides is the hard part! Emily did exactly what she was told today so I’m proud of her, and also proud to be part of this team,” he said.

“This is not an easy ring to ride in. I found that out the other day when my horse got a bit spooky!” Brash pointed out, referring to taking a tumble on the first afternoon. But normal order was restored as he cruised through two flawless efforts with Hello Jefferson. The last British win in Dublin was back in 2013, and both Brash and Maher were in that side along with Robert Smith and the now-retired Nick Skelton.

“It’s a privilege to ride here in Dublin and compete in this – the very best Nations Cup. It’s all down to the crowd, really; they are incredible!” Brash remarked. And his team manager agreed. “I remember 1996, winning the Aga Khan Cup with Abbervail Dream; the sportsmanship of the crowd was incredible as we went toe to toe with the Irish!” she recalled.

There was a clear purpose to the British effort, and Holly Smith put it down to focus. “Everything panned out as we hoped which doesn’t always happen – so when it does you have to enjoy it!” she said.

With this pivotal victory under her belt, Di Lampard is now turning her sights on the Longines FEI European Championships later in the month. “Now we are really confident about going to Rotterdam and winning a medal and our place in Tokyo!” she said.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
+41 78 750 61 46

Norwegians Nail Victory at Europe Division 2 Final in Athens

Hege Tidemandsen and Carvis (FEI/Jim Hollander)

Team Norway stormed to a very significant victory in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Greece staged at the 2004 Olympic venue of Markopoulo in Athens (GRE). This final of the 2019 Europe Division 2 series saw eight nations battle it out for the single promotional spot on offer for Division 1 next year, while also up for grabs were two qualifying places at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final 2019 in Barcelona (ESP) next October.

And it was the Norwegian side, consisting of three members of the Gulliksen family along with Hege Tidemandsen, who claimed pole position ahead of Portugal in second while Poland lined up in third.

A move into the super-competitive higher division is a big ask for many of the countries that have a limited pool of horses and riders, so winning Chef d’Equipe, Mikael Kolind, was cautious about his team’s prospects after this great result. “We have the ticket for Division 1 now, so we will see if we will use it!” he said. But there’s no doubt about their forthcoming trip to Spain.

“We are very happy to be able to go to Barcelona and hopefully to qualify a team for the Tokyo Olympics!” said Tidemandsen who produced one of the three double-clears that secured the winning zero scoreline. Portugal will join them at the Spanish fixture, putting just four faults on the board to finish a fence ahead of the Polish side who were foot-perfect second time out but who couldn’t improve on their eight-fault first-round tally to just miss out.

It was wide open right to the end, however, victory depending on a clear round from the last man into the ring, Geir Gulliksen (59), who is better known to his friends as “Jimmy”. His daughter Victoria (27) racked up 16 faults in the first round and eight in the second with the 10-year-old gelding Papa Roach. So although both Tidemandsen and Victoria’s brother, Johan-Sebastian (22) riding Exit of Ice Z, never put a foot wrong, Norway needed to discard those eight faults to stay out in front.

Hungary and Portugal were lying joint-second with a four-fault tally as the second round began over the course designed by Germany’s Christian Wiegand, and when the Portuguese held firm then a fence down from “Jimmy” would force a two-way jump-off, and any more than that could prove extremely expensive. Staying cool and calm, the Olympian, who has been the rock on which Norwegian showjumping has depended for very many years, steered the 13-year-old Gin Chin van het Lindenhof, a horse he took over from Ireland’s Bertram Allen at the end of last year, to a clean run all the way. And the roars from the Kiss and Cry said it all as he galloped through the finish – it was a Norwegian mission accomplished.

“This was just an amazing experience! It’s the first time for me at the Division 2 Final and to go in there and win the whole thing is just super. I’m so proud of what my team-mates and all our horses have achieved today!” — Hege Tidemandsen (Team Norway)

Tidemandsen runs a riding school in Norway along with her mother “a little further north from Gulliksens,” and has been a real self-starter. “I began with ponies and then we always made the horses ourselves because we never had money to buy the good ones; we would only get the horses no-one else wanted and if I was good enough I could improve them. But today I’m very happy because I have a really good horse who jumps his heart out for me,” she pointed out.

She was talking about the 13-year-old Carvis who, however, has been a very difficult character along the way. “He was always jumping too big and scaring himself when he was younger, and I was a bit of a chicken so my sister did all the early work with him. He wasn’t easy,” she explained.

Now he’s a family favourite. “We’ve had him for 10 years and people are always trying to buy him, but my father says we can’t sell a friend!” she said.

She is hoping that she and her friend are on their way to Barcelona where the battle for that last Olympic slot is likely to be hard fought. The final Europe Division 2 standings, based on this result, show Norway and Portugal in first and second places, Poland in third, Hungary in fourth, Greece – represented by a plucky three-member side – in fifth, Spain in sixth, Bulgaria in seventh, and Romania in eighth.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
+41 78 750 61 46

Unstoppable Swedes Make It Two-in-a-Row at Hickstead

Team Sweden. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

There was a ring of familiarity about the super win by Team Sweden in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Great Britain at Hickstead (GBR), where Ireland lined up second ahead of Italy in third and the reigning series champions from Belgium had to settle for fourth place. It’s fewer than two weeks since the Swedes celebrated success at the fifth round of the Europe Division 1 series on home ground at Falsterbo where super-hero, Peder Fredricson, sealed it with a breath-taking double-clear performance in the closing stages.

And he did it again, but under a lot less pressure, because it was all done and dusted without the help of last-line team member Rolf-Goran Bengtsson. The Swedes are very definitely on a roll right now, and Chef d’Equipe Henrik Ankarcrona was rightly proud as his country lifted the prestigious Edward Prince of Wales Trophy for the very first time in the history of the competition that dates all the way back to 1947.

“It has been a fantastic year in the Nations Cup so far. Geesteren (round 4 in The Netherlands) was not the best for us, but we came back strong in Falsterbo. And I was told yesterday that Sweden has never won here in Hickstead, so I said let’s do it!” — Henrik Ankarcrona (Chef d’Equipe Team Sweden)

They were always on target after establishing the lead at the end of the first round on a zero score, just as they did on home ground a fortnight ago. Fredrik Jonsson (46) and Cold Play kicked off with a clear tour of the formidable Hickstead fences and when Angelie von Essen (40) and Luikan Q, and then Fredricson (47) and his relatively new ride, Zacramento, followed suit then anchorman Rolf-Goran Bengtsson’s (56) help wasn’t needed so he decided to stay on the sidelines with Oak Grove’s Carlyle this time around.

But Ireland and Belgium were in hot pursuit with just four faults apiece as the second round began, and the Italians were also close behind with just five on the board. Team USA carried eight, Brazil carried nine and Germany already had 13 on their scorecard. The masterful Marcus Ehning breezed in with a first-round clear with Comme Il Faut while horseman supreme, double-Olympic Eventing champion Michael Jung, collected just four faults with Fischerchelsea, but despite faultless second efforts from both men the final German tally of 21 left them well out of contention.

British chances were dashed at the outset with a fall at the 4m-wide open water for the pathfinding partnership of Amanda Derbyshire and Roulette BH, and the hosts eventually finished last of the eight competing nations. With only the last leg of the Europe Division 1 series left to go, at Dublin (IRL) in two weeks’ time, they now have a lot to do to qualify amongst the top seven nations that will make the cut to the Longines Final in Barcelona (ESP) in October. There was reassuring news about both the British rider and her horse, however.

“Amanda is all good, just a superficial injury to her face,” said Hickstead’s Edward Bunn. “The horse had an x-ray and nothing special was found and he is now being transported to the closest clinic to be observed,” he explained.

Despite a spectacular double-clear from their last-line duo, Yves Vanderhaselt and the lovely mare Jeunesse, the Belgians slipped off the radar in the second round and once Von Essen and Fredricson posted their second clears of the day, the Swedes were already in the club-house and it was left to the Irish and Italians to battle it out for runner-up spot in the closing stages.

And double-clears from pathfinder Anthony Condon (Aristio) and anchorman Paul O’Shea (Imerald van’t Voorhof) sealed it for the boys in green who completed on eight faults, while only the single time faults picked up in both rounds by Italian anchor Bruno Chimirri (Tower Mouche) separated the Italians who lined up third on a total of 10.

Fredricson said that it’s the great team spirit in the Swedish side that’s giving them the edge right now and he heaped praise on the British venue.

“It’s great to come to a show like this – Hickstead has its own personality and asks its own unique questions that give an extra dimension to our sport, and that makes it very special,” he said. He also complimented his team-mates. “Angelie is a super rider and has a new horse, and Fredrik is an old friend of mine – we were both Eventing together long before we started Jumping and I’m really happy for him doing so well now!” he added.

“The team made my day easy today!” said Bengtsson, who jumped a few fences and then retired in the second round as his services were not required. “At the moment we really have quite some good combinations of riders and horses and it will not be easy for the Chef d’Equipe to make his selection for the European Championships coming soon!” he pointed out. The Championships in Rotterdam (NED) are indeed only a few short weeks away and on everyone’s mind.

But for now, it’s party-time again for the Swedes and their supporters. “I feel really proud that the Swedish name will now be on this great trophy!” Fredricson said.

When asked how he so consistently copes with pressure under fire, the world no. 2, Olympic silver medallist, and reigning European champion replied, “I just focus on jumping a clear round inside the time! Everybody feels pressure in a team competition; you always want to do well so it’s really important to celebrate the good times and to enjoy a great evening together afterwards – we are going to do that again tonight!”

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
+41 78 750 61 46

Team Germany Wins the Nations Cup in Strzegom, Fifth Place for Poland

Michael Jung with fischerChipmunk FRH. Photo by: Leszek Wójcik.

German riders have outclassed their rivals in the third leg of the FEI Nations Cup in eventing, winning both as a team and individually. Second place went to Great Britain, and third to the Netherlands.

Team Germany has taken the lead after dressage and kept it until the very end. The best score belonged to Michael Jung, who won the class individually with fischerChipmunk FRH. Second place after dressage and a great cross-country, going slightly over the time, and then a clear round in the showjumping granted him the first place in the class. “I’m very happy about my ride. fischerChipmunk is a great horse. The weather was not the best, but he was very concentrated and super to ride as always.”

Ben Hobday (GBR) has jumped into the second position with Shadow Man after a clear showjumping test. Andreas Dibowski (GER) has finished third. The leader after dressage, Tim Lips (NED), was 6 seconds over the time in the cross-country, and one knockdown in the showjumping cost him the podium.

Polish riders, after an unfortunate dressage, have jumped up into the 5th place and kept it until the end. The best athlete of the team was Jan Kamiński riding the Polish-bred Senior. Three knockdowns in the jumping placed him at the 25th position in the class, with 55 riders overall.

Eight teams competed in the Nations Cup class. For a lot of them, the stakes were really high. A good position in the whole classification is a chance for a ticket to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, for those who haven’t qualified yet.

Sunday’s showjumping determined the winners of the long format classes. In the CCI4*-L, the most difficult one during the show, the best was Yoshiaki Oiwa (JPN) with Bart L JRA. After a great clear cross-country, he took the lead, and he could even afford to be a bit over the time in the showjumping. “The weather is a bit hot this week, and my horse for sure is tired, but he jumped really well. We only had time penalties, but I am very very happy with him.”

Second and third place went to Swedish riders: Jonna Britse with Quattrino and Ebba Adnervik with Chippieh, accordingly.

Brigitte Peterhans (SUI) was the best in the CCI3*-L, and the “two star long” win went to Karin Donckers (BEL) with Ludique du Cœur des Collines.

Sunday was also the day of cross-country trials for the short format and national classes.

The winners of the international classes are as follows:

  • CCI3*-S: Michael Jung (GER) and Wild Wave
  • CCI2*-S: Dirk Schrade (GER) and Dajara 4
  • CCI1* Intro: Clemens Croy (AUT) Sarah Bernhardt K

Winners of the national classes:

  • CNC2*: Mariusz Kleniuk (POL) with Soplica
  • CNC1*: Lisa Hopster (GER) with Rousseaus Mademoiselle
  • CNC L: Weronika Król (POL) with Greenline
  • CNC LL: Milena Pelc (POL) with Enjoy

12 national and international classes were played out during the 4 days of LOTTO Strzegom Horse Trials. Riders from 22 countries competed with over 400 horses

Online results: http://results.strzegomhorsetrials.pl.

Strzegom Horse Trials: Equestrian Triathlon Starts in Morawa

Photo by Leszek Wójcik.

Strzegom, Poland, June 24: Over 400 horses on the startlists, 10 cross-country courses, riders from the top of the FEI rankings, and an exciting rivalry for the Nations Cup – LOTTO Strzegom Horse Trials starts on Thursday at the hippodrome in Morawa.

Athletes from 22 countries will compete over 4 days in 12 classes of various difficulty levels, including the Nations Cup class, the highest ranked eventing competition in Poland. The Nations Cup competitions started in May in Great Britain, and Strzegom will be the 3rd leg of the classification. Currently in the lead is the team from Sweden.

A record-breaking number of over 400 horses have been entered to compete in Strzegom. “The cross-country trials are looking to be record-breaking as well,” said Marcin Konarski, the chairman of the organising committee. The cross-country tests will be played out over three days. For the first time, athletes will compete at 10 tracks over 37 kilometres long collectively, with over 200 fences measuring up to 120 cm.

The audiences will have the opportunity to see top international riders, including 7 from the top 50 of the International Equestrian Federation rankings, such as multimedallist Michael Jung (GER), the current and two-time Olympic champion, or Andrew Hoy (AUS), silver medallist of the Olympic Games and three-time team Olympic champion. The best Polish riders will also compete at the event, including the current National Champion Paweł Spisak, or riders that have recently won the Olympic qualifier class in Baborówko.

Thursday and Friday are dressage days. Cross-country trials, the most spectacular ones, will take place at Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The final tests determining the winners will take place on Sunday, during showjumping and cross-country tests.

Apart from the sport programme, audiences will have the chance to see exciting equestrian shows. The organisers also invite all to the exhibitors’ area with “Polska smakuje” and local group “Szlakiem granitu,” where there will be a chance to taste and buy top quality products by Polish vendors.