The Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final kicked off under the lights in Barcelona, Spain, on Friday evening (1 October) with 15 nations vying for a spot in Sunday’s lucrative final round.
There were just eight tickets on offer, which resulted in a high-pressure night of thrills and spills and plenty of surprises but Germany reigned supreme in an extremely tight competition. The four-man squad finished on a team score of two, just ahead of a delighted host nation Spain on three, followed closely by the Dutch squad on four and Brazil on five. Joining them in Sunday’s final will be the fifth-placed Olympic champions Sweden, who came home on nine faults, ahead of Ireland, USA and Belgium.
Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann, who produced a clear round on his Tokyo hero King Edward, said: “He jumped another fantastic clear round. Maybe today’s course isn’t at the top hole but it’s tricky and time, of course, is a factor. We don’t feel the pressure as Olympic champions – it’s a new game, a new show, but of course we want to win. No question!”
Reigning champions Ireland faced an uphill battle with all three scores to count after pathfinder Denis Lynch and Cristello were eliminated under the blood rule caused by a spur mark. But five-fault rounds from Michael Duffy (Zilton SL Z), Michael G Duffy (Lapuccino 2) and a clear from Darragh Kenny with VDL Cartello pushed them up the leader board and bang in contention for Sunday afternoon’s decider.
Great Britain misses the cut for Nations Cup Final
The bottom seven teams in the Nations Cup Final standings progress only to Saturday night’s Challenge Cup and will not jump in Sunday’s final. Among some shock inclusions in this category are the new European Champions Switzerland, France and the 10th placed British squad. Norway, Italy, Canada and Uzbekistan will be their rivals in Saturday’s rematch.
Great Britain’s pathfinder Holly Smith delivered an eight-fault round with her Tokyo mount Denver, while Emily Moffitt returned home with one fence down and a time-fault on Winning Good. The star of the show was Harry Charles and Romeo 88 (pictured above) whose faultless performance puts them in with a chance to secure a share of the double clear bonus on offer. Anchorman John Whitaker came unstuck in the treble when Unick Du Francport hit the oxer going in, chipped in an extra stride and stopped at the middle element. They cruised home thereafter but their 13-fault score would be the discard – although the team was only one fault away from potentially making the cut for Sunday.
The hard luck story came for Norway, consisting of three members of the Gulliksen family plus Marie Longem. Their team total of 12 faults put them level with eighth-placed Belgium but their slower combined time meant they missed out on a place in the final.
Earlier in the day, Great Britain’s Holly Smith had earned victory in the opening five-star speed class, the Negrita Cup, with her brilliant partner Fruselli.
The Nations Cup Final continues on Saturday 2 October with the Challenge Cup and the Queen’s Cup individual class.