Tag Archives: FEI Nations Cup

Steffen Peters Extends Unbeaten Run to 11 with Nations Cup Freestyle Gold in Week 10 of AGDF

Steffen Peters (USA) and Suppenkasper. ©️Susan Stickle.

Wellington, FL – March 13, 2020 – Steffen Peters (USA) conjured yet another winning performance from his blossoming partner, Suppenkasper, to claim the gold in the Nations Cup™ FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDIO3*, presented by Stillpoint Farm. This takes his tally of wins to 11 from 11 starts in the 2020 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF), held at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). The pair scored 81.535%, their second plus-80% freestyle score of the year. The 10th week of AGDF continues through Sunday, March 15, which is also the conclusion of the 2020 season, a decision announced earlier today due to the Coronavirus.

Right behind Peters, personal bests abounded on the podium. The Dominican Republic’s Yvonne Losos de Muñiz smashed her previous best by 2% to land an emphatic 78.91% and the silver medal on her 15-year-old mare Aquamarijn, by United. Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu (CAN) also pulled off a career high, riding All In, a 15-year-old gelding by Tango to 78.72% and the bronze.

Watch Steffen Peters’ winning test in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDIO3* here. Courtesy of Richard’s Equine Video.

Benjamin Ebeling Crowns a Winning Week with Third U-25 Nations Cup Gold Medal

In the under-25 Nations Cup division, Benjamin Ebeling (USA) fist-pumped the air at the final halt of the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDIOU25, presented by Diamante Farms.

He was right to celebrate: his energetic ride on Illuster Van De Kampert, which he’d finished with a piaffe fan in both directions, was rewarded with 75.13%. It was their best ever score at the level and earned the gold medal — their third of the week.

Freestyle silver went to Canada’s Camille Carier Bergeron, who moved up a place from the previous day, riding Gilles Bergeron’s 13-year-old Acordelli gelding, Acoeur. Natalie Pai (USA) scooped bronze, adding to her team silver from the opening day of week 10. All three podium finishers rode to music put together by Karen Robinson.

For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

Steffen Peters Leads U.S. Dressage Team to Nations Cup Victory in Week 10 of AGDF

Steffen Peters and Suppenkasper. ©️Susan Stickle.

Wellington, FL – March 12, 2020 – On the second day of competition for the FEI Nations Cup™ CDIO3* presented by Stillpoint Farm on Thursday, March 12, at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF), the team from the USA took the gold medal with 439.992 points. The Canadian team took silver with 436.034 points, and Denmark was awarded the bronze with 424.501 points.

Benjamin Ebeling (USA) Adds Individual Gold to Previous Day’s Team Gold in U-25 Nations Cup Contest

In the FEI Grand Prix 16-25 CDIO-U25, presented by Diamante Farms, Benjamin Ebeling (USA) and Illuster Van De Kampert, Nuvolari Holdings LLC’s 12-year-old Spielberg gelding, led the class with 71.179%, claiming his second gold medal after helping his team, Team USA “Stars and Stripes,” to victory the previous day. Fellow American Emma Asher scooped the silver on Elegance N, an 11-year-old by Jazz. Canada’s Camille Carier Bergeron claimed the bronze medal riding Acoeur.

“The win today is up there for me,” said 20-year-old Ebeling, who has been on quite a journey with Illuster Van De Kampert. “My favorite thing is riding on a team, so the win yesterday was really important, but for my self-confidence with this horse, today meant a lot. The first two times that I did a grand prix with him, we had to retire. He’s such a hot horse and it’s taken me a while to get to know him and to understand how to control him. These last few shows have been really positive for us. I think it’s just been about getting to know my horse better and he’s trusting me more.”

Cesar Parra Beats 11 Other Combinations to Claim the FEI Prix St. Georges CDI3*

At small tour, Cesar Parra (USA) claimed victory from the 12 starters in the FEI Prix St. Georges CDI3*, presented by The Dutta Corp. He rode GK Don Cesar, a 10-year-old by Desperados, to 71.274%, a new personal best at the level. This was their second win of the 2020 AGDF. Ariana Chia (CAN) on Fiderflame finished second with 70.196%, with the USA’s Jami Kment filling third with 70.147% on Gatino Van Hof Olympia.

For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

Strong Entries and Flying Flags Highlight Nations Cup Week at AGDF

The teams competing in the 2020 FEI Nations Cup CDIO3*. ©️Susan Stickle.

Wellington, FL – March 10, 2020 – The 2020 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) will host the second largest CDI of its nine-year history this week with 150 horses jogging to compete in week 10 on March 11-15 at Equestrian Village at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL. The week will include the FEI Nations Cup™ CDIO3* presented by Stillpoint Farm and the Nations Cup CDIO-U25 presented by Diamante Farms.

This is the eighth edition of the FEI Nations Cup™ CDIO3*. This year’s event welcomes teams from the USA, Canada, Denmark, Israel, and Japan, along with individuals from Spain and the Dominican Republic. The event is part of the FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage Series.

This Nations Cup marks an historic event as it includes the first ever international-level dressage team fielded for Israel.

Team medals for the FEI Nations Cup™ CDIO3* are decided after the FEI Grand Prix/FEI Prix St. Georges and FEI Grand Prix Special/FEI Intermediaire-1 competition on Wednesday and Thursday. Individual medals will be presented after Friday’s FEI I-1 Freestyle and FEI Grand Prix Freestyle competition.

In addition to the full schedule of large and small tour competition throughout the week, the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDIO3* will be a feature event as part of the “Friday Night Lights” series on Friday, March 13.

The Nations Cup CDIO-U25 debuted in 2017 and this year will welcome teams from USA and Canada along with individuals from Canada, Colombia, Spain, and USA. Team medals will be decided with the CDIO-U25 Intermediaire-2 on Wednesday, while individual medals will be given for the CDIO-U25 Grand Prix on Thursday and the CDIO-U25 Grand Prix Freestyle on Friday evening.

For more information, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

Kiwis Make It an Historic Double in Abu Dhabi

Tom Tarver-Priebe, Bruce Goodin, Daniel Meech, and Richard Gardner of New Zealand. (©FEI/Helen Cruden)

UAE and Syria Qualify for Final

New Zealand claimed the honours in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of the United Arab Emirates at Abu Dhabi (UAE) for the second time in two years when pinning Egypt into runner-up spot and the host-nation into third.

It was another piece of Kiwi equestrian history in the making as anchorman, Daniel Meech, explained: “This is only the second time a New Zealand team has ever won a Nations Cup – our first was here in Abu Dhabi in 2018, so this is a really special place for us!” said the 46-year-old rider who was also a member of that first-time winning side and who helped clinch today’s victory with the only double-clear of the competition.

This second round of the 11-leg Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2020 series was the single qualifying competition for teams in the Middle East region. And after a spirited battle filled with plenty of drama, the UAE and Syria have made the cut to the Final in Barcelona (ESP) next October. Only three countries fought that particular battle, and it was the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia who lost out when finishing last of the six competing nations.

At the halfway stage New Zealand and the UAE shared the lead on a zero score despite elimination for second-line Kiwi rider Richard Gardner who took a fall at the first fence with his 12-year-old gelding Calisto. The United Arab Emirates team looked very comfortable indeed, not requiring the services of their anchor partnership of Mohammed Al Kumeiti and Dalida van de Zuuthoeve when Abdullah Mohd Al Marri (James VD Oude Heihoef), Hamad Ali Al Kirbi (Quel Cadans Z), and Mohammed Ahmed Al Owais (Uto Kerved) all jumped clear.

But Spanish course designer Santiago Varela, the man who will build the tracks at the forthcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, upped the pressure second time out by replacing deeper cups with flat ones and raising a few poles. There were eight clears in the first round, including a particularly gutsy one from Saudi Arabia’s Dalma Rushdi Malhas and Impero Delle Schiave, but Meech produced the only clear of the second round to leave his team on the winning score of just eight faults.

The Egyptians were lying third, carrying just five faults as the second round began despite elimination for their pathfinders Mouda Zeyada and Morocco who won Friday’s President of the UAE Grand Prix in which Egyptian riders filled three of the top ten placings. The innocuous-looking oxer at fence one put paid to Zeyada’s first-round effort when his 12-year-old stallion slammed on the anchors there, and when the pair collected eight faults second time out that was the team discount score as Mohd Osama El Borai (Quintero), Mohamed Talaat (Darshan), and Abdel Said (Arpege du Ru) each had a fence down to bring their final total to 17.

However, they found themselves neck-and-neck with the UAE at the end of the day when a single mistake from Al Marri, double-errors from Al Kirbi and Al Owais, and five for Al Kumeiti second time out saw UAE also complete on a score of 17 faults. And when the combined times of the best three riders from each team were taken into account, an agonising 2.12 seconds separated the two sides with the hosts dropping to third while Egypt clinched runner-up position.

The three-man German team lined up in fourth with 37 faults while Syria finished fifth with 44. The Syrians collected just 11 faults first time out but their second-line rider, 19-year-old Osama Al Zabibi, was eliminated for a fall in round two while the rest of the team added 33 more. However, they are on their way to the 2020 Barcelona Final.

In the end the Kiwi victory was clean and clear even though they were reduced to a team of three when Gardener didn’t return to the ring. Four-time Olympian Bruce Goodin and Backatrops Danny V lowered only the first element of the penultimate double second time out while Tom Tarver-Priebe, in only his second-ever Nations Cup outing, hit the same fence with Popeye. So when double-Olympian Meech made no mistake it was all done and dusted, and it was another great moment for New Zealand sport.

Talking about the ups and downs of the day, Meech said afterwards, “It was disappointing for Richard (Gardner) because he aimed his horse for this class, but you get used to performing in adversity in this game and we put our heads down and ground out the win!”

His lovely 11-year-old grey mare, Cinca, a daughter of Casall, was very impressive and with Tokyo 2020 selection very much in his mind, Meech was happy with her performance.

“She’s really nice. I felt she jumped even better in the second round when a few of the fences went up. She’s quite green at this level and it was amazing how she just walked in and did it so easy. She’s really grown into herself this year,” he added.

The Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2020 series next moves to Coapexpan in Mexico for the second leg of the North/Central America and Caribbean League in early May.

FULL RESULTS

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Beezie Bags It for USA, but British Girls Are Brilliant

(L to R) Team USA’s Margie Goldstein-Engle, Laura Kraut, Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland, Beezie Madden, and Jessica Springsteen. (FEI/Shannon Brinkman)

The 2020 series got off to a galloping start with a home victory for Team USA in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of United States of America at Deeridge Farm in Wellington, Florida (USA). But despite fielding a crack four-member side, the hosts were pushed to a third-round jump-off by a relatively rookie British team that consisted of just three riders.

And making competition all the more exceptional was the fact that, in this sport in which men outnumber women by a considerable margin at top level, it came down to a clash between two all-female teams, with America’s Beezie Madden pipping Britain’s Alexandra Thornton in the third-round tie-breaker.

“The British girls were excellent!” said double Olympic gold medallist Madden who piled on the pressure with a brilliant first-to go run with Darry Lou in the jump-off.

There were eight teams in action but only USA, Mexico, and Canada were chasing down qualifying points in the North and Central America and Caribbean League series from which two of those three countries will qualify for the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2020 Final in Barcelona, Spain next October. The American winners claimed the maximum 100 points while Mexico collected 80 when lining up third and Canada picked up 60 points when finishing fourth in a competition filled with plenty of excitement.

The open water was the source of the greatest drama, Israel’s Ashlee Bond having to call it a day with Donatello in the second round when the nine-year-old gelding refused to have anything to do with it after giving himself a fright first time out. And Brazilian pathfinder, Cassio Rivetti, took a real soaking there when his 13-year-old mare, Bacara d’Archonfosse, dumped him in it at their second attempt.

Meanwhile, there were impressive firsts for both Canadian 17-year-old Sam Walker (Kelstar du Vingt Ponts) and 22-year-old Israeli rider Teddy Vlock (Volnay du Boisdeville) who collected just four faults in each round on their Nations Cups debut. Israel and Ireland finished joint-fifth while Australia and Brazil shared seventh place at the end of a very eventful afternoon.

Team Ireland, series champions in 2019, shared the lead with Great Britain on just four faults at the end of the first round, but the addition of 16 faults second time out put paid to Irish chances. In contrast, despite having no discard score, the British added just four more when anchor rider Amanda Derbyshire (Cornwall BH), who had been fault-free first time out, lowered the bogey second fence after team-mates Thornton (Cornetto K) and Emily Moffit (Winning Good) both kept a clean sheet.

Now with a total of eight they found themselves on level pegging with the multi-medalled Americans who recovered from single errors for three of their four team-members at their first attempt to squeaky clean runs from Jessica Springsteen (RMF Zecilie), Margie Goldstein-Engle (Royce), and Laura Kraut (Confu) next time out which meant Madden’s services were not required in round two. And Goldstein-Engle was at her gutsy best, returning to battle despite an unscheduled dismount when her big stallion spooked after going through the finish in the opening round.

Madden set the pace against the clock with a great run from the 12-year-old Darry Lou who broke the beam in 33.11 seconds.

“He does love to gallop! He’s actually really super to ride; he’s not delicate so you can wind him up a bit and let him off and he rises to the occasion – he’s a lot of fun to ride!” — Beezie Madden (USA)

Thornton and the experienced 14-year-old Cornetto K also put in a perfect run, but crossing the line 36.34 seconds they were well short of Madden’s winning time.  However, British showjumping got a big boost, Di Lampard putting her faith in three US-based riders – 27-year-old Thornton, 21-year-old Moffit, and 31-year-old Derbyshire – who didn’t let her down and finished runners-up behind a superstar American selection.

In the lead-up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games when riders are looking to impress, there was plenty to see at this opening leg of the 111th Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ season during which this much-loved series will visit 11 top venues around the world en route to the annual decider in eight months’ time.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Olympic Year Adds Extra Zest as Wellington Opens Exciting New Season

Rodrigo Pessoa holds the trophy aloft as Team Ireland celebrate victory in Barcelona (ESP). (FEI/Lukasz Kowalski)

There’s nothing quite like an Olympic year for raising hopes and dreams, and as the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2020 series kicks off there are plenty of horse-and-rider combinations looking to impress over the coming weeks and months with a view to making that trip to Tokyo. Talent-spotting will be the order of the day for team managers and selectors throughout the early part of the new season, which will take in prestigious events in the Middle East and across Europe as well as North America.

Deeridge Farm in Wellington, Florida (USA) is again the venue for the show-opener of the 11-leg 5-Star series, and hosts the first of the three qualifiers in the North/Central America and Caribbean League Sunday, 16 February. The action then moves to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates for the single qualifier for the Middle East region later this month. Just two countries from each of these leagues will qualify for the annual Final at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain in October.

May is going to be hectic, beginning with round two of the America/Caribbean series, at Coapexpan in Mexico, followed by the first leg of Europe Division 1 at La Baule, France followed swiftly by the second leg at St Gallen in Switzerland a week later. And then it’s back across the pond again, this time to Langley in Canada where the last leg of the North/Central America and Caribbean series will take place as the month draws to a close.

From there the Europe Division 1 teams will continue to battle it out for a place amongst the seven nations from this series that will make the cut to the Final. They will visit Sopot (POL) and Rotterdam (NED) in June and Falsterbo (SWE), Dublin (IRL) and Hickstead (GBR) in July, finishing at the British fixture the day before the equestrian events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games begin. The 10 nations competing in Europe Division 1 this season are Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Ireland won the edge-of-the-seat 2019 Final, and the celebrations were noisy because this result also gave them the hotly-contested last team qualifying spot for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. And although only Canada, Mexico, and USA can chase down the early-season points in Wellington, the Irish will be out in force again.

There is a super-strong field of runners, with a total of eight teams including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, Switzerland, and the USA going in to battle. Big names in the mix include the man who led that Irish team to victory, 1998 World Champion and 2004 Olympic champion Rodrigo Pessoa, who has now returned to the saddle to fly the Brazilian flag once again, and two of his Barcelona-winning team-members, Ireland’s Cian O’Connor and Paul O’Shea.

Rowan Willis, who produced a superb performance from his mare Blue Movie to finish individually 12th at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon, USA, will be on the Australian team, while the seven-strong Canadian contingent includes 2008 Olympic champion Eric Lamaze.

Great Britain fields an all-female side that includes Amanda Derbyshire and Emily Moffitt, and Team Israel has listed brothers Daniel and Steven Bluman in its squad. The US selection is filled with super-stars including the multi-medalled Laura Kraut and Beezie Madden, but the ones they may all have to fear are last year’s winners, Team Mexico. Manuel Gonzalez Dufrane is the only member of that victorious side listed again this year, but the passion with which this country’s riders compete makes them a serious force to be reckoned with, so this opening leg looks set to be a cracker.

Check it out here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

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
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Bittersweet Victory for Spain in Challenge Cup

Sergio Alvarez Moya. (FEI/Linnea Rheborg/Getty Images)

There was a mixture of joy and regret for the Spanish team after winning the Challenge Cup at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final on home ground at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain.

The battle between the nine countries that missed the cut to the last round that will decide the fate of the 2019 Longines title was a tough one. But the hosts clinched a clear-cut victory in the end, pinning The Netherlands into runner-up spot while Brazil, Great Britain, and the USA finished equal-third.

“We lost out on Olympic qualification by less than half a second on Thursday, and that was heartbreaking, but sometimes what the sport takes away, the sport gives you back. Today we had this wonderful win and I’m absolutely excited and proud of the riders, the staff members, the coach, the vet, everybody who worked hard, because in the end this was a really beautiful gift to say goodbye to the 2019 Nations Cup season!” — Marco Fuste (Spanish Chef d’Equipe)

Course designer Santiago Varela set them a difficult track, and there were only six clear rounds from the 36 starters. But when two of those came from Spanish team then that was the deciding factor. And it was the last-to-go effort of Sergio Alvarez Moya and the exciting nine-year-old Jet Run that clinched it.

Great Britain, USA, The Netherlands, and Spain were all in contention for a four-fault finishing result going into the last rotation of riders, but mistakes from Ben Maher and F One USA at the second element of the double at fence eight and again at the final vertical put paid to British chances. And when Richard Spooner and Quirado RC also faulted at the same double as well as the following oxer then American hopes were seriously compromised.

The Netherlands’ pathfinders, Maikel van der Vleuten and Dana Blue, clipped only the second fence on the course that looked sensational under lights. And that was followed by a brilliant clear from Zypriz S ridden by Willem Greve who, as the only rider through to the competition who had also been foot-perfect in Thursday’s first round, therefore earned all of the €50,000 bonus on offer to riders with double-clear performances.

Marc Houtzager’s Sterrehof’s Calimero also faulted at the first element of the bogey double at eight, but it seemed the Dutch were about to really put it up to the Spanish by posting just a four-fault finishing score when Bart Bles and Israel VD Dennehoeve skipped around the course with the greatest of ease, only for it all to unravel at the very last.

The Spanish crowd was suddenly whipped into a frenzy of excitement, because the door was now wide open. The British and Americans were no longer a threat because they would complete on the same 12-fault scoreline as Brazil, and the Dutch could do no better than eight. If last-to-go Alvarez Moya could keep a clean sheet, then the hosts would have it.

Spain’s Alberto Marquez Galobardes and Ucello Massuere had suffered the same fate as Bles at the final fence, but team-mate Eduardo Alvarez Aznar and Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Margot were beautifully clear, so the 12 faults collected by Santiago Nunez Riva could be dropped if their anchor partnership could master Varela’s course.

The deafening noise that had been reverberating around the stadium descended into a complete hush as Alvarez Moya and his relatively inexperienced nine-year-old gelding set off. But the sound-barrier was nearly broken when he cleared the last and punched the air with delight.

When asked afterwards if he noticed the silence and could feel the tension as he went into the arena, he replied, “I don’t really think much once I go in the ring. I focus on the job and try to ride as good as possible. Once you do that, if you have a rail down that’s the sport – I just try my best. I have to say today it gave me great confidence to have my colleagues doing such a good job before me. And it’s a lovely position to go in the ring with the chance of a win – it doesn’t happen very often so I loved it!”

He wasn’t the only one who savoured this success. “It’s a moment of great happiness!” said Marco Fuste who has been Spanish Chef d’Equipe the last 14 years. “Winning a Nations Cup at this level makes me very happy, especially here in my hometown where I have been living for 46 years!”

Watch highlights here: https://youtu.be/vJA3RCMFKsw.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

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
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46