Tag Archives: FEI Nations Cup

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.


Brilliant Brazilians Overwhelm the Opposition at Geesteren

Pedro Veniss and Quabri de L’Isle. (FEI/Digishots/Leanjo de Koster)

Team Brazil cruised to victory in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of the Netherlands 2019 at Geesteren (NED). Taking command with just four faults after the first round, they sealed the result when adding just four more without calling up their final partnership on a day full of surprises and high scores.

The hosts line up second ahead of the Spanish, who pipped Germany for third place by a narrow one-fault margin. Sweden, Belgium, and Japan were next in line, separated only by time when all completed with 32 faults on the board, and Austria lined up eighth and last.

This was the perfect boost for Brazil in the lead-up to next month’s Pan-American Games in Lima, Peru. The Europe Division 1 league has provided the perfect preparation for that important Olympic qualifier, and last week they finished sixth in Sopot (POL), while at St Gallen (SUI) in early June and La Baule (FRA) in May they lined up in fifth place each time. They had it in the palm of their hands after establishing the early lead and staying rock-solid while those around them struggled to hold on.

The team members all knew that a good result would do their selection chances no harm, and Brazilian Chef d’Equipe Pedro Paulo Lacarda confirmed it: “They were all amazing today! For the Pan-American Games I still wait one week to confirm my team – but this team have a good chance!”

A fascinating track designed by Dutchman Henk Jan Drabbe asked plenty of unusual questions. Sweeping turns, long runs between fences, and distances that required absolute accuracy were the undoing of many top horse-and-rider combinations and there was only one double-clear on the day. That came from the second-line Brazilian duo of Felipe Amaral (28) and his 12-year-old stallion Germanico T.

All eyes were on German pathfinders, the 2018 world champions Simone Blum and DSP Alice, but their round came adrift when the stride from the open water at six to the flimsy vertical that followed got muddled, and the mare put down again on take-off. They were perfection second time out, but the German side that looked super-strong on paper completed with 29 faults on the board, while Spain, whose last-line partnership of Alberto Marquez Galobardes and Ucello Massuere were real eye-catchers, finished one fault ahead of them with 28.

As the second round began it looked set for a three-way tussle between Sweden, carrying 12 faults, The Netherlands with eight and the leading Brazilians on just four. But the Swedes slipped out of contention when adding 20 more, and when Brazilian pathfinder Marlon Modolo Zanotelli (31) followed up his first-round four faults with a lovely clear and Amaral and Germanico T were foot-perfect for a second time then it already looked like the writing was on the wall.

It was agonising for the Dutch whose second round began with a lovely clear from Maikel van der Vleuten and Dana Blue, winners of Friday’s Longines Grand Prix, only for both Willem Greve with Zypria S and Marc Houtzager and Sterrehof’s Calimero to leave one on the floor. Both looked like they had a fault-free run in the bag but Greve’s mare hit the penultimate oxer, a real bogey on the day, while the crowd groaned in horror when the front pole on the final oxer hit the dirt after Houtzager, certain he had left it in place, raised his fist in delight as he galloped through the finish.

When third-line Brazilian, Pedro Junqueira Muylaert (32), returned to the arena with C’est Dorijke he knew he could afford a fence down to seal the win and he used that leeway when too strong down to the vertical after the water, but it didn’t matter. The brilliant anchor partnership of Pedro Veniss (36) and the stallion Quabri de L’Isle, who had made it all look very elementary when clear first time out, didn’t need to go again. The top step of the podium was already secured, and when the final Dutch partnership of Jur Vrieling and VDL Glasgow vh Merelsnest retired after lowering three fences then the hosts had to settle for a final tally of 16 faults, well behind the winning team’s eight-fault total.

“I was feeling very confident coming here because we have Marlon and Pedro with Quabri and Sirene on our team, and also I felt my horse was really good in the Grand Prix,” said Amaral.  This young man, who been twice Brazilian champion and who competed in the Pan-American Games in Toronto (CAN) in 2015, is Belgian-based and has trained with both Rodrigo Pessoa and his legendary father, Nelson Pessoa.

As the Brazilian celebrations began, Pedro Veniss pointed out that team spirit played a major role in their success. “We are not just team-mates but also friends. We really support each other to make it happen and winning the biggest class in the world with your best friends is really special!” he said.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Belgians Best Irish in Thrilling Sopot Showdown

Pieter Devos and Apart. (FEI/Lucasz Kowalski)

Belgium posted a back-to-back double when coming out on top in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Poland 2019 staged at the popular seaside town of Sopot (POL). The team included two members of last year’s winning side, Pieter Devos (33) and Niels Bruynseels (35), who were joined by Gudrun Patteet (34) and Yves Vanderhasselt (40) to do it all over again.

But the roller-coaster competition went right down to the wire, the result decided in a tense third-round jump-off against Ireland in which Devos’ chestnut gelding, Apart, rattled a few poles but left all the fences standing to bring it home for the 2018 series champions.

He had only just sealed the jump-off slot in round two when Belgian Chef d’Equipe, Peter Weinberg, asked Devos to take on Ireland’s Paul O’Shea in the third-round showdown.

“I said OK, I’ll do it, and normally Apart is very, very fast, but today he got a bit stressed when we had to go back into the ring almost straight away. But he always gives me everything and hey, everyone is very happy if you are last to go and you win it for your country!” — Pieter Devos (BEL)

It was a very different story at the halfway stage when the Dutch seemed to already have it in the bag after three effortless clears. Belgium, France, and Ireland were all chasing with four-fault scorelines, and Team Germany were close behind with just five on the board, but the French were hampered by the withdrawal of pathfinder Simon Delestre as round two began. So despite clears from Olivier Robert (Tempo de Paban) and Roger Yves Bost (Sangria du Coty), they were obliged to add the four collected by Alexis Deroubaix and Timon d’Aure at the final Longines planks and that saw them lose their grip.

Meanwhile, Dutch domination collapsed when Willem Greve (Zypria S) also hit the last, Bart Bles (Israel vd Dennehoeve) and Doron Kuipers (Charley) both faulted at the open water and Kevin Jochems (Cristello) lowered fence 10 on the course designed by Poland’s Szymon Tarant who was making his debut at 5-Star level.

In contrast, the Irish stood firm with double-clears from Paul O’Shea (Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu) and Shane Sweetnam (Alejandro) backed up by a second-round clear from Peter Moloney (Chianti’s Champion), which meant that Bertram Allen (Harley vd Bisschop) didn’t need to return to the ring.

The Belgians didn’t have such an easy run of it when Vanderhasselt’s mare, Jeunesse, hit the second element of the penultimate triple combination. Bruynseels and Delux van T&L had been foot-perfect second time out and Patteet and Sea Coast Valdelamadre Clooney posted the second part of a brilliant double-clear, but if Devos couldn’t leave all the poles in place then he would be handing the top step of the podium to their Irish rivals. Typically, however, he didn’t flinch, and a jump-off was now on the agenda.

You could hear a pin drop as O’Shea led the way against the clock for Ireland, but his 12-year-old gelding hit the first fence before coming home to break the beam in 46.97 seconds. It seemed Devos would just walk away with it now, but the normally fully focused Apart seemed uncharacteristically lacking in concentration and hit the top pole at the first element of the penultimate double really hard, only for it to roll back into place. They crossed the line three seconds off O’Shea’s target time, but their zero score would seal it for Belgium.

Devos was delighted with Apart’s performance: “He has done a lot of great things, and has won many 5-Star Grand Prix and World Cup classes, but this is his very first Nations Cup and to go double-clear and then win it in the jump-off is very special!

“My wife (Caroline Poels) rode him up to 5-Star level and then I took over – he’s a fantastic horse with a great character. When he’s in the ring he gives me everything!” Devos added.

A total of 10 countries are contesting Europe Division 1 this season, and following this third round of the series, Belgium has moved into second place behind the leaders from France. Each country has been allocated four points-earning opportunities throughout the seven-leg league, and Sweden, the only country that has not collected points to date, will be making their seasonal debut at Geesteren (NED) where the Dutch will be hoping for better luck on home ground.

Only the top seven nations in Europe Division 1 will qualify for the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2019 Final in Barcelona (ESP) in October where there will also be one last remaining Olympic qualifying spot up for grabs.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Foutrier Seals It for France in Swiss Thriller

A champagne celebration for the French team after victory at St Gallen (SUI). (FEI/Richard Juillart)

The reigning Olympic champions from France gritted their teeth and galloped to victory in the edge-of-the-seat Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Switzerland at St Gallen (SUI), where a feisty Italian foursome claimed runner-up spot and the host nation, clear favourites at the outset, had to settle for third.

This second leg of the Europe Division 1 series came down to a nail-biting three-way jump-off in which Guillaume Foutrier (42) and his 10-year-old gelding Valdocco des Caps clinched it when second to go against the clock. And Swiss hearts were broken when once again their own Nations Cup title slipped from their grasp. It has been a long wait since their last St Gallen success back in 1996, but once again it wasn’t to be, despite a titanic effort from the crack side fielded by Andy Kistler.

“In France we love to win – this was a great day!” said French anchorman Kevin Staut whose team was already home and hosed with three clears in the first round before he took his turn with his new ride Calevo 2 who lowered only the final oxer. Italy also completed round one on a zero scoreline, but the leading nations were closely stalked by Switzerland, carrying just four faults as round two began.

Swiss course designer Gerard Lachat presented a superb 12-fence test that required accuracy, balance, and control. The double of uprights at the second-last proved pivotal for many, and it was at the first of these that Swiss pathfinder and world individual silver medallist Martin Fuchs faulted with Chaplin. So when Niklaus Rutschi and Cardano CH hit the middle element of the triple combination then there were definitely going to be four Swiss faults on the board.

Clears from Fuchs, Rutschi, and Paul Estermann riding Lord Pepsi changed everything second time out, however. Last-line rider and World No 1, Steve Guerdat, didn’t need to return to the ring because the Swiss result couldn’t be improved. But his day wasn’t over, because Guerdat and his great mare, Albufuehrens Bianca, would be called up for a third-round jump-off when both France and Italy completed the second round also with four faults on the board.

Double-clears from Penelope Leprevost and Vancouver de Lanlore and Nicolas Delmotte with Urvoso du Roch set the French up nicely, but Foutrier misjudged his take-off at the open water and when Staut’s inexperienced gelding hit the following oxer then that settled France onto a two-round four fault total.

Riccardo Pisani’s stallion, Chacclot, hit the first element of the now-infamous double at the end of the track, but if anchorman Luca Marziani and Tokyo du Soleil could produce his team’s third double-clear of the afternoon, following foot-perfect runs from Giulia Martinengo Marquet with Elzas and Paolo Paini with Ottava Meraviglia Di Ca’ San G, then it would be an Italian victory. An uncharacteristic foot in the water meant it would go to a three-way battle against the clock, as there was nothing to separate the three sides.

The Swiss crowd held its breath as Guerdat led the way into the third and final round. He had no choice but to throw down a super-fast target time, but, running strongly down to the remaining two elements of the triple combination, Bianca clipped the front bar with her hind feet for four faults in 43.46 seconds.

Chef d’Equipe, Thierry Pomel, selected Foutrier to fight for the French. And although his time was slower than Guerdat’s, he left all the poles in place when breaking the beam in 44.09 and Italy’s Martinengo Marquet couldn’t better that when crossing the line almost a half-second slower. She still had plenty to celebrate, having racked up three fabulous clear rounds with her lovely 10-year-old gelding.

“Like in every Nations Cup there was a lot of pressure, but it’s a nice story, especially when it ends like this!” said Staut. Talking about Foutrier’s winning ride, the Olympic team gold medallist pointed out, “Guillaume has been a really tough rider for a long time. He’s very consistent and he has this horse for two years now. Today he handled the pressure and was really focused on bringing home something great in the jump-off. When Steve had one down, he went for a safe, fast clear round because we knew Julia’s horse is not the fastest.”

Once again there was new shining star in the British team that finished fourth, as 24-year-old James Wilson steered Imagine de Muze to one of the six double-clears posted on the day. Team Brazil finished fifth despite elimination for last-line rider Stephan Freitas Barcha who took a fall from Artois D’Avillon at the final element of the combination in the second round. The competition was suspended while he received medical attention in the arena. A statement confirmed that “he was always conscious and responsive, but was taken to hospital for further examinations. The horse remained unharmed.”

The Europe Division 1 series now moves on to Sopot (POL) in two weeks’ time.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Canadians Prove Untouchable on Home Ground at Langley

Nicole Walker and Falco van Spieveld. (FEI/Rebecca Berry)

There was plenty to celebrate when the hosts posted an emphatic victory in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Canada at Thunderbird Show Park in Langley (CAN), where Ireland finished second and USA slotted into third ahead of Mexico in fourth and Israel in fifth place.

However, despite his side’s overwhelming success, Canadian Chef d’Equipe Mark Laskin said, “It was a bit bittersweet. It’s great to win here, especially on our home field, but there were two parts to this equation. The first part we took care of, but the second part we just missed.”

He was of course referring to the fact that Canada has finished third, and last, in the 2019 North/Central America & Caribbean League from which only two of the three competing nations can qualify for the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final in Barcelona (ESP) in September. Those two places go to Mexico, winners of the previous two legs of the series, and to USA who have pipped the Canadians for the second spot by a narrow margin of just 10 points.

There is no denying the new energy and excitement in the Canadian side, however. With three first-round clears they grabbed the advantage, and they held on so firmly that anchorman, Mario Deslauriers, didn’t have to ride again in the second round because the win was already in the bag.

Ireland, USA, and Mexico were all sharing second place with eight faults apiece going into round two, and when the Irish added nothing more they would be runners-up while USA had to count four more faults to finish third on 12. Mexico finished another fence further adrift, on 16 faults despite a superb double-clear from Salvador Onate and his fabulous gelding Big Red who produced one of five foot-perfect performances on the day.

When both pathfinder Lisa Carlsen and her busy bay mare Parette and second-line rider Nicole Walker with the super-cool Falco van Spieveld each put a second clear round on the board, the Canadians were already looking like runaway winners. And although Tiffany Foster picked up her second four faults of the afternoon with her promising nine-year-old Figor when next to go, that was still good enough to clinch it.

When asked afterwards if she knew when she was riding into the arena that a clear or four fault result would seal the win, Foster said with a laugh, “I’m not great at math but I figured that one out! When I was coming down the last line, I had Mario in mind – I was thinking, he’s going to kill me if I have another one down and he has to jump, so we held it together!”

Walker said she was “super-delighted for everyone” on her team and with the “spectacular” performance of her horse. She wasn’t wrong about the latter as Falco van Spieveld made it all look like a training exercise. “He’s the best partner I could possibly ask for – in the barn he’s super easy and he’s a bit lazy at home, but when he goes in the ring he’s so reliable,” said the 25-year-old who works in the family business with the Stronach Group, and who trains with Irish rider Cian O’Connor on a regular basis.

Reflecting on where the result leaves Team Canada, she concluded, “We would have liked to make it to the Final in Barcelona, but the cards didn’t fall in order for us today; that’s the way it goes. Now our big plan is the Pan Ams where we will be looking for Olympic qualification.”

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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