It’s going to be a long and fascinating night at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona (ESP) tomorrow night when Team Germany will be first into the arena for the much-anticipated opening round of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final 2018.
It’s taken nine months of hard work and big moments for the 15 nations to get here, and during this evening’s draw for the order-of-go all the Chefs d’Equipe were in determined mood. Only the top eight countries will qualify for Sunday afternoon’s title-deciding second round and they all want to make the cut.
The draw was conducted by CSIO Barcelona Show Director Daniel Garcia Giró and FEI Jumping Director John Roche, and the nations will start in the following order:
1, Germany; 2, Spain; 3, Austria; 4, Ireland; 5, Great Britain; 6, Italy; 7, Sweden; 8, Belgium; 9, Brazil; 10, USA; 11, Canada; 12, Netherlands; 13, France; 14, Switzerland; 15, UAE.
Coming hot on the heels of the FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG) 2018 in Tryon, USA there’s going to be another face-off between the Americans who won through for team gold on home soil and Team Sweden who forced them into a thrilling jump-off before having to settle for silver. Reigning European champion, Peder Fredricson, is the only member of that Swedish side in Barcelona this week, and he’s riding a different horse, but Chef d’Equipe, Henrik Ankarcrona, said he has also brought “four girls anxious to show that they are looking to take a spot at the Europeans next year!”
America’s Robert Ridland said he also has four young riders along with veteran Laura Kraut, “and for one of them (Andrew Kocher) it will be his first Nations Cup! So we’re lacking a little bit of experience but I’m looking forward to it. I think we have a competitive team.” Jessica Springsteen will be American pathfinder with Kocher going second ahead of Lucy Deslauriers and finally Kraut.
There’s no dilemma about a choice of team members for Canada’s Mark Laskin because he only has four, and he was quite happy when they were drawn eleventh to go.
“It’s always an honour to be here in Barcelona jumping for this prestigious title with all the best teams in the world. Canada is always happy to qualify, it’s a goal of ours every year,” said Laskin, Chef d’Equipe, Team Canada.
Kara Chad has accumulated a lot of experience in the last year or so, she’s only 22 years of age and she jumped for us at WEG and Lisa Carlsen – she’s ridden at Olympics, but that was 30 years ago so she’s making kind of a resurgence!” he pointed out.
Indeed Carlsen (53) will line out tomorrow night alongside her team-mate from the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul (KOR), Mario Deslauriers (52) whose daughter is US athlete Lucy Deslauriers (19). There are going to be all kinds of rivalries when the action gets underway, with five of the top-10 riders in the Longines rankings flying their national flags including World No. 1 Harrie Smolders who will be hoping to help the defending champions from The Netherlands make it two-in-a-row.
“We were a little bit unlucky at the WEG, that is our sport – winning and losing are very close to each other – on the other hand we were very happy that we got a ticket for Tokyo (2020 Olympic Games) so that pressure is gone, and we are looking forward now to the competition here,” said Dutch team manager Rob Ehrens.
Philippe Guerdat from France is also looking for an improved performance and is delighted that Penelope Leprevost is back in his team after more than a year’s absence. And Switzerland’s Andy Kistler is very excited about his selection.
“It will be a very interesting evening tomorrow from our perspective, a different team to normal and it looks like ladies first, Barbara Schneiper, who did very well in the Nations Cup and Grand Prix at Calgary (CAN).
“Our number two is maybe our biggest talent for the future, he’s only 20 years old, Bryan Balsiger. A year ago he was European Young Rider Champion and this year he was Swiss Champion Elite, and he will do his first Nations Cup at this level at the Longines Final,” said Kistler, Chef d’Equipe, Team Switzerland.
Rounding up the Swiss side will be Arthur Gustavo da Silva and Steve Guerdat who claimed individual bronze in Tryon just 11 days ago.
It’s going to be intriguing so don’t miss a moment – tomorrow night’s first-round action begins at 20.00, Saturday’s Challenge Cup for the teams that finish below eighth place begins at 21.00, and the second round that will decide the fate of the 2018 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ title is scheduled for 15.00 on Sunday.
Follow all the results here.