The Big Duel: Philippe Guerdat and Robert Ridland Announce Their Teams
for the Return Match of the Riders Masters Cup in New York.
New York, April 26 – Two weeks after the great individual confrontation of the FEI Longines World Cup Final in Paris, the United States and Europe will once again oppose in a thrilling battlenext Saturday in New York. This time by team, for the new brand competition – the Riders Masters Cup – aimed to become a major competition, not only for show jumping, but also for world sport. On Thursday night, the two Chefs d’Equipe, Philippe Guerdat (#Riders Europe) and Robert Ridland (#Riders USA), unveiled their final selections for this return match between the two major powers of show jumping.
The competition is young, but already promised to a great future, thanks to the team spirit and the domination of these two powerhouses of show jumping, that normally see epic confrontations… individually.
Christophe Ameeuw and his Team at EEM teams gave birth to this new team competition in collaboration with the EEF (European Equestrian Federation) and with the support of Longines as Founding Partner. The Riders Masters Cup was launched in Paris last December with a first match won by the #Riders Europe, but most importantly, like Pierre Durand – the Ambassador of this Riders Masters Cup – underlined, put team spirit in this individual sport: “This continental challenge rehabilitates the team events at a time when the Nations Cups are inadequately protected and valued” said the Seoul Olympic gold medalist. “Yet the team means “we” before “I”. The Riders Masters Cup is a good thing as it promotes the collective interest rather than the individual one. It provides a spirit of sharing, solidarity and mutual help. It seals a unifying pact. It simply carries beautiful transcending values.”
One-on-one for a team result
This great competition is of course bound to grow, and on the model of tennis team events like the Davis Cup or the Fed Cup, it has adopted a format of one-on-one meetings in two rounds: “The duel notion with a challenge background is the strong suit”, explained Pierre Durand. In the increasingly standardized events of international competition programmes, riders never really compete one against the other. Yet, the continents challenge is based on battles. The team captains can develop strategies as well as some coaching. Head-to-head battles are set up, from which emerge a winner and a looser. The audience vibrates more and can clearly choose its side, electrifying the atmosphere. It creates tension, excitement. Maybe even excessive cheering! You are for one, against the other. The competition’s emotional flavour is therefore significantly enhanced.”
Two “big” teams
After the clear dominance of the United States in the recent Longines FEI World Cup Finals in Paris, where the US had three riders among the top five, Robert Ridland has a good reason to be confident. He selected his team mainly from those who competed in Paris: Beezie Madden (USA) and McLain Ward (the last two winners of the Longines FEI World Cup Finals) who will play alongside the experienced Olympic team champion, Laura Kraut (USA), the New York rider, Georgina Bloomberg (USA), with the young Adrienne Sternlicht in U25.
“We are very strong and this time, we should get there”, Ridland ensures… and this is something Philippe Guerdat does not want to hear. He selected the man who is in great form at the moment, the Dutch and World No. 2 Harrie Smolders (NED) , he will also add French Olympic Champion Kevin Staut (FRA), Olympic Vice Champion and Swedish European Champion, Peder Fredricson (SWE), the winner of the Grand Prix in Aachen, Belgian Gregory Wathelet (BEL) and a U25 rider, the young Belgian Olivier Philippaerts (BEL) who has already won major Grand Prix like Calgary. “A team that intends to keep the trophy that we won in Paris”, promises the Captain of #RidersEurope, Philippe Guerdat. The battle will certainly be bitter and exciting.
As for Pierre Durand, he will not be in New York to follow the competition. Even if Pierre Durand is not in New York to assist, he will be commenting on the competition live from Paris from the beIN Sports studios (the night from Saturday to Sunday at 2:55 am on BeIN Sports 1, replay in the morning)!
… and also to follow live on EEM.TV (Saturday, April 28: 20:55), on Eurosport (Sunday, April 29 at 10:00) and in North America on CBS offline (Sunday, April 29 from 16:00 to 18:00, local time East Coast USA (ET).
Source: Press Release by Solenn Rispail / Agence R&B Presse for EEM / Longines Masters
Photos: © Sportfot / EEM Longines Masters