Barcelona, Spain – September 30, 2021 – Team Belgium will be first to go when the 2021 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ gets underway on Friday evening at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain.
The draw took place on Thursday, with FEI Jumping Director Marco Fuste and CSIO Barcelona Show Director Daniel Giro doing the the honours. The order of go for the first round of the competition is as follows: 1, Belgium; 2, Germany; 3, Great Britain; 4, Ireland; 5, Italy; 6, France; 7, Spain; 8, Canada; 9, Brazil; 10, Uzbekistan; 11, Netherlands; 12, Sweden; 13, USA; 14, Norway; 15, Switzerland.
Getting the number one draw is never ideal for any Nations Cup team because they don’t have any information about how the course will jump, but that doesn’t bother Belgian Chef d’Equipe Peter Weinberg.
“We have a good team here, Nicola Philippaerts with Katanga, Niels Bruynseels (BEL) with Deluxe, Jerome Guery (BEL) with Quel Homme de Hus and fourth Gregory Wathelet (BEL) with Nevados, so even though we are first in the draw I hope we can do very well in the competition”, he said confidently.
All the team managers expressed their delight at being back at the venue that staged Jumping during the 1992 Olympic Games and which has been home to FEI Nations Cup™ Finals since 2003. The charm of the polo club located in one of Europe’s most popular cities is second to none.
Team Canada is drawn eighth and manager, Mark Laskin, is looking forward to the challenge. “I’m really happy to be back in Barcelona, this is definitely one of my favourite competitions of the year!”, he said. “None of our riders have ever ridden at this level so I hope it’s a positive experience and I guess we’ll find out tomorrow night!”, he added.
France have posted three wins in Barcelona over the last 18 years, in 2003, 2004 and 2013. French team manager Thierry Pomel is happy with his side’s number seven slot, “because we have strong teams going before us so we will have good information”, he pointed out.
Great Britain’s Di Lampard said “it’s wonderful to be back in Barcelona, last year it was definitely missed! We have a team that’s quickly gaining experience – Holly Smith (GBR) will be our lead rider followed by Emily Moffitt (GBR), Harry Charles (GBR) and the very experienced John Whitaker in fourth. So we are looking forward to great sport here over the next few days”, she said.
Team Germany has posted the biggest number of victories at Nations Cup Finals in Barcelona with five in total including three-in-a-row between 2006 and 2008 and their last in 2016.
“It’s lovely to be here again in this beautiful place. The weather was wonderful today and there was a beautiful atmosphere until Marco put us in number two starting spot!”, joked Otto Becker.
“But don’t worry”, he added with conviction, “we have a very good team here of Christian Ahlmann (GER), Daniel Deusser (GER), David Will (GER)and Andre Thieme (GER) and Kendra Brinkop (GER) as our younger rider in number five. So we look forward and we will try our best”.
Italy’s Duccio Bartalucci is feeling positive because his side is starting fifth, and five is his favourite number. “We start with new horses and new riders here so it’s not so easy for us, but I hope our team will have a good result”, he said.
Dutch team manager, Rob Ehrens, admitted that his biggest problem was picking a team because so many of his riders wanted to compete this weekend. “We have a strong selection for The Netherlands because everybody wants to come to Barcelona but I’m in charge of that so we have some new ones here like Sanne Thijssen who did a marvellous job in Aachen (GER), and I think she is in the flow. We have Willem Greve here with the old Carambole who is in great shape, then we have Harrie Smolders (NED) with Monaco and Mikael van der Vleuten (NED) with his bronze medal individual horse from Tokyo (Beauville Z). So we have a strong team I think and it’s great to be here and we will do our very best!”, he said with determination.
Norwegian Chef d’Equipe, Mikael Kolind, said that he and his team “are very proud to be back here again. We are a small country among all these big countries and our goal is to stay in Division 1 next year again.” He admitted today that he doesn’t have so much pressure when making his selection because “I only have to pick one rider every time because I have a whole family here!”, referring to the Norwegian team stalwarts Geir Gulliksen and his son and daughter, Johan-Sebastian and Victoria who will line out alongside Marie Valdar Longem. “We look forward to the next days!”, he added.
Switzerland’s Michel Sorg was very happy to accept the number 15 starting spot. As last to go his country is in an enviable position and he knows he has a powerful side in Elian Baumann (Campari), Bryan Balsiger (TwentyTwo des Biches), Steve Guerdat (Victorio Des Frotards), Martin Fuchs (Chaplin) and Edwin Smits (Farezzo).
And Swedish Chef d’Equipe Henrik Ankarcrona was also pleased with the number 12 slot. “This is one of the greatest shows of the year and we are so happy to be back. I think I have an experienced team here with Malin Baryard, Rolf-Goran Bengtsson (SWE), Henrik von Eckermann (SWE), Angelie van Essen (SWE) and Angelica Augustsson (SWE), so we are going to go in strong and see where it takes us!” said the man whose country has plenty to feel good about after grabbing glorious gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games just over two months ago.
Team USA is drawn 13th, and team manger Robert Ridland is in upbeat mood. “Thanks for us all being here in Barcelona and thanks for providing the same weather I left in California, it will be perfect if this keeps up!”, he said. “We have had a number of 20-year-olds on our team recently and again we have three 20-year-olds in Spencer Smith, Michael Hughes and Lillie Keenan. We’ve got an experienced rider who hasn’t been on a team for quite a while in Schuyler Riley, and our anchor rider is going to be Laura Kraut”, he explained.
The defending champions from Ireland, led by Michael Blake, will be fourth into the arena when the action gets underway at 20.00 local time tomorrow night. “We have a team with youth and experience – Denis Lynch and Darragh Kenny are experienced but for the other three – Michael Duffy, Michael G Duffy and Eoin McMahon – it will be their first time to jump at this level. We are really glad to be here, it’s fantastic to be back in Barcelona where we won in 2019 and we want to put up another really good performance again this year”, he said.
However only eight of the 15 participating nations will qualify for Sunday’s deciding round of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2021, and with so many top-class teams it’s going to be a mighty battle from the outset.
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Photo: © FEI / Lukasz Kowalski