Barcelona, Spain – September 27, 2023 – The 2023 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final looks set to be a highly competitive affair, with a total of 86 athletes from 19 nations in action during the hugely popular four-day fixture that brings the team Jumping season to the perfect close every year in Barcelona, Spain.
Running from September 27, to October 1, there will be 15 countries from five continents chasing down the prestigious team trophy this time around as athletes and horses from Asia, Europe, Oceania, South America and North America fly their national flags.
It is an event that everyone looks forward to each season, celebrating all that is best about equestrian team sport.
Peter Weinberg’s Belgian side arrive as defending champions after clinching not only the 2022 title but also the single qualifying spot on offer for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. It was an impressive victory, their third since the Final was established at the Real Club de Polo de Barcelona in 2013, and they clinched it with the only zero scoreline on the final day.
Weinberg returns with three members of last year’s winning side, Koen Vereecke (BEL), Gregory Wathelet (BEL) and Gilles Thomas (BEL) who will be joined by Niels Bruynseels (BEL) and Wilm Vermeir (BEL).
The full list of nations fielding teams is: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, USA and Uzbekistan.
With the XXXIII Olympiad less than a year away time is running out for those countries not yet qualified, so there will be intense rivalry between Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Mexico, USA and Uzbekistan because none of them have yet bagged that elusive ticket to the French capital next summer as yet.
For the North and South American countries there will be one more opportunity at the Pan-American Games 2023 in Chile in November where the final three Olympic spots will be up for grabs. But for Italy, who failed to qualify for this year’s Longines Final through the Europe Division 1 series but who made the cut because the Asia/Australasia region was unable to fill its quota, and for Uzbekistan this is their very last chance.
The Italians are sending out three members of the team that finished tenth at the FEI Jumping European Championship on home ground in Milan three weeks ago – Alberto Zorzi (ITA), Emanuele Camilli (ITA) and Giampiero Garofalo (ITA) – along with the super-experienced Lorenzo de Luca and Piergiorgio Bucci so they obviously mean business.
The Uzbeki side is considerably less well known, but Abdurakhmon Abdullaev (UZB), Bekzod Kurbanov (UZB), Azam Tolibbaev (UZB) and Nurjan Tuyakbaev (UZB) will be just as focused.
The Americans are clearly taking no chances on leaving Olympic qualification to the last minute at the Pan-Ams. Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland will lead a super-sharp crew headed up by multiple champions Laura Kraut (USA) and McLain Ward (USA) who will be backed up by Devin Ryan (USA), Jessica Springsteen (USA) and Karl Cook (USA).
Team Switzerland managed to tick the Olympic qualification box when finishing sixth at the recent European Championship, and the dynamic duo of Steve Guerdat (SUI) and Martin Fuchs (SUI) will be teaming up again together with Elian Baumann (SUI), Alain Jufer (SUI) and Janika Sprunger (SUI) at this week’s Longines Final.
Two of the individual European medallists will be in action this week – gold medallist Guerdat who is currently world number three, and bronze medallist Julien Epaillard (FRA) from France who is world number two. In fact seven of the top 10 athletes in the current world rankings list will compete in Barcelona including world number one Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) from Sweden who will line out as an individual.
The French have a huge amount of fire-power in their side led by Epaillard which also includes world number nine Simon Delestre (FRA), Dublin Grand Prix winner Francois Xavier Boudant (FRA), Olivier Perreau (FRA) and Olivier Robert (FRA). And the Germans look super-strong too, with Hans-Dieter Dreher (GER), Christian Kukuk (GER), Jörne Sprehe (GER), Richard Vogel (GER) and Jana Wargers (GER) in Otto Becker’s line-up.
Ireland’s Michael Blake (IRL) sends out one of the side that took team silver in Milan, Trevor Breen (IRL), who will be joined by Daniel Coyle (IRL), Jack Ryan (IRL), the veteran Denis Lynch (IRL) and 19-year-old Max Wachman (IRL) who was on the winning team and finished individually 11th at the FEI Jumping European Young Riders Championship this summer.
The Dutch also look strong, with Harrie Smolders (NED), Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) and Jur Vrieling (NED) amongst Jos Lansink’s selection, while Team Mexico can always be relied upon to give it their all. Last year they won Saturday night’s Challenge Cup in fine style, pinning the newly-crowned world champions from Sweden into runner-up spot.
However perhaps one of the most intriguing teams to watch next week may be Brazil, with former Portuguese star Luciana Diniz (BRA) joining Stephan de Freitas Barcha (BRA), Marlon Modolo Zanotelli (BRA), Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) and Pedro Veniss (BRA) in the side. Diniz took a break from the sport last October and only stepped back in at international level in July this year. She competed for Brazil at the Athens Olympic Games in 2004 but carried the Portuguese flag at the Games in London 2012, Rio de Janeiro 2016 and Tokyo 2020 and is now targeting Paris 2024 on behalf of Brazil once again.
Individually all of the other Brazilian riders have been in exceptional form of late and with this talented lady also on call-up they will surely be eyeing up not just the 2023 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final title but that single Olympic qualifying spot too.
The story of the 2023 edition will begin to unfold on Wednesday, 27 September, with the first Horse Inspection, Training session and Draw for the order-of-go. The competition will begin on Thursday 28 when all 15 nations will compete. The top eight will go through to Sunday’s €1,250,000 final round to decide the title while the remaining countries will go for glory in Saturday night’s €300,000 Challenge Cup.
The excitement is only a few days away, so don’t miss a hoofbeat….
More information here
Event website here
Source: Press Release by Louise Parkes for the FEI – Fédération Equestre Internationale
Photo: © FEI / Richard Juilliart