World’s best head to Spain for end-of-series showdown

The crème of international showjumping is set to battle for glory at this week’s FEI Longines Nations Cup final, where one of the final Olympic team places is set to be decided.

A total of 18 teams have qualified for the series final in Barcelona (3 to 6 October) and seven of these will be aiming to take home the single Tokyo team ticket on offer.

These are Ireland, Italy, Spain, Norway, Portugal, Colombia and Egypt. Barcelona marks the final chance for six of these nations, while Egypt has room for one last crack at the last Olympic qualifying event for group F (Africa/Middle East) in Rabat from 10 to 13 October.

Ireland is sending the same five combinations who competed at the Longines FEI European Championships in August, with several riders bringing extra horses.

These are Darragh Kenny with Balou De Reventon and Sweet Tricia, Peter Moloney and Chianti’s Champion, Cian O’Connor on PSG Final and Irenice Horta, Paul O’Shea with Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu and Shane Sweetnam riding Alejandro.

“Barcelona is always an important fixture as the Nations Cup world final and this year it has special importance as the last chance to claim a team place at the Olympics,” said team manager Rodrigo Pessoa.

“We are among a group of teams fighting for a spot in Tokyo and needless to say we are taking this extremely seriously and are very aware of the competition that we will be up against and the riders are ready to tackle the importance of the event.”

The place will be allocated to the highest-placed team, not already qualified for the 2020 Games.

Britain secured its Olympic qualification with its bronze medal-winning performance at the 2019 Europeans. Amanda Derbyshire (Luibanta BH), Ben Maher (Carlson 86 and F One Usa) and Holly Smith (Hearts Destiny and Denver), who were on the British championship side, are joined by Ellen Whitaker (Arena UK Winston and Jack Van’t Kattenheye) and Emily Moffitt (Tipsy Du Terral and Winning Good).

Last year’s Nations Cup final victors Belgium, fresh from their European team gold medal-winning performance in Rotterdam, bring forward a strong side to defend their 2018 title. These are Niels Bruynseels, Pieter Devos, Jérôme Guery, Olivier Philippaerts and Gregory Wathelet.

 

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A top Swedish side, headed by the Rio Olympic silver and 2017 European gold medal-winning combination of Peder Fredricson and H&M All In, head to the final with two wins in this year’s series.

Italy and Switzerland have had consistently good results across the 2019 series, with world number one Steve Guerdat and European champion Martin Fuchs both named on the latter’s side for the final.

Norway is also a side to look out for, with three members of the same family (Geir Gulliksen plus daughter Victoria and son Johan-Sebastian) making up the four-strong side.

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