Barcelona, Spain – October 02, 2019 – There was a buzz of electricity as the draw for the first competition of the 2019 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ CSIO 5* Final was held at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain this evening where Team Italy got the prime starting position for tomorrow’s opening class.
A total of 18 nations will be battling for just eight places in Sunday’s finale, and Italy will be last to go when the action gets underway tomorrow at 14.00 local time. The draw also gives the Italians a psychological advantage in the battle for the single qualifying slot on offer for the 2020 Olympic Games. They are one of seven countries chasing that down this weekend, so it’s not just the prestigious Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ trophy they are after – it’s also that tantalising ticket to Tokyo.
Italian Chef d’Equipe, Duccio Bartalucci, was naturally delighted when his country was last out of the hat. “Last year we lost the competition with the last fence down in the Final, so I hope this year we do better!” said the team manager who has selected Paolo Paini (ITA), Luca Marziani (ITA), Massimo Grossato (ITA) and Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) in his side.
The order-of-go for tomorrow’s first competition is: 1, Brazil; 2, France; 3, Mexico; 4, Sweden; 5, Great Britain; 6, Japan; 7, Spain; 8, Ireland; 9, Portugal; 10, USA; 11, Colombia; 12, Norway; 13, Netherlands; 14, Egypt; 15, Switzerland; 16, Belgium; 17, Germany; 18, Italy.
Putting the sub-plot of the tussle between Columbia, Egypt, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Portugal and Spain into perspective, Irish team manager Rodrigo Pessoa said “we’ve missed out already on two Olympic qualifications, so this is our third chance and hopefully it will be a good one!” He sends Peter Moloney (IRL), Paul O’Shea (IRL), Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Cian O’Connor (IRL) into ring. But Egypt’s Abdel Said (EGY) wasn’t joking when he said his team are feeling confident. He is joined in Barcelona by Sameh El Dahan (EGY), Karim Ezoghby (EGY), Alaa Mayssara (EGY) and Nayel Nassar (EGY).
Colombia’s Herve Roland Godignon said his biggest problem was putting a team together, but it seems Spain’s Marco Fuste is spoiled for choice. However the hosts have never been on the podium at this fixture which has been staged on their home ground for the last seven years. He’s hoping to put that right this time around, announcing that Eduardo Alvarez Aznar (ESP), Sergio Moya (ESP), Alberto Marquez Galobardes (ESP) and Santiago Nunez Riva (ESP) are his chosen four.
Portugal’s João Moura admitted that his squad of Antonio Matos Almeida (POR) and Rodrigo Giesteira Almeida (POR), Luciana Diniz (POR) and Luis Sabino (POR) will have a fight on their hands, but Norway’s Mikael Kolind was in bullish mood. And that’s no surprise after their victory at the Division 2 Final in Athens (GRE) this summer. “Everybody says I have the easy job because I have to pick the family and just one more rider, but hopefully we do well here and get that spot for Tokyo!” he said, joking about the fact that he has three members of the Gulliksen tribe – father Geir and son and daughter Johan-Sebastian and Victoria Gulliksen (NOR) – in his selection along with Hege Tidemandsen and Stein Endresen (NOR).
Peter Weinberg said he’s also feeling very confident about his Belgian team who are defending champions, and that’s no surprise after their gold-medal-winning performance at the FEI European Championships in Rotterdam (NED) in August. Brazil, France, Great Britain, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands and Sweden are also in the race, along with the powerhouses of Switzerland, Germany and the USA.
Switzerland’s Andy Kistler has the world no. 1 and 2 riders, Steve Guerdat (SUI) and Martin Fuch (SUI)s, on call-up, but he was typically guarded at this evening’s draw press conference. “When you have No. 1 and No. 2 on your side you can’t feel bad and the two others are also are very strong, Beat Mandli (SUI) and Niklaus Rutschi (SUI). But the competition here is very tough and especially tomorrow to get into Sunday it’s a big challenge. We hope we do it and we see hopefully what can happen then on Sunday!” he said.
The USA’s Robert Ridland said he also has strength in depth in his side. “It’s our typical mixture of young riders (Eve Jobs and Chloe Reid) and three veterans, McLain Ward (USA), Laura Kraut (USA), and Richard Spooner (USA)who is going to be our lead-up rider”.
Germany’s Otto Becker explained that his team was slightly changed from the one that took team silver at EC Rotterdam “because Simone Blum (the reigning World Champion) is pregnant. But the rest of our European team is here, our No 5 is Laura Klaphake so our team is Christian Ahlmann (GER), Daniel Deusser (GER), Marcus Ehning (GER) and Maurice Tebbel (GER) and I’m very satisfied that we are drawn 17th to go!”
There’s a double edge to this year’s Final and it’s adding all the more excitement, so don’t miss a hoofbeat.
Teams list here.
Source: Press release by Louise Parkes for FEI – Fédération Equestre Internationale
Photo: © FEI / Hippo Foto – Dirk Caremans