‘So much pressure!’: Nations Cup Final winners also claim Olympic qualification

  • In a thrilling afternoon of world class showjumping, Belgium claimed outright victory in the Longines FEI Nations Cup Final in Barcelona on Sunday (2 October) as well as booking their place at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

    It all came down to Belgium’s fourth team rider Jerome Guery riding his brilliant 16-year-old stallion Quel Homme De Hus, the silver medal-winning partnership from the World Showjumping Championships in Herning, Denmark in August.

    A clear round in Barcelona would ensure victory while just one rail down would have forced a jump-off against France and Switzerland – the latter being the only other team in Sunday’s final bidding for the one Olympic qualification spot.

    However, this outstanding pair soared home over the testing track set by Santiago Varela and a huge cheer erupted from supporters ringside.

    “There was so much pressure beforehand as I knew I had to jump clear,” said Jerome, one of five riders to produce a double clear between Thursday’s opening leg and Sunday’s final to share the 100,000euro bonus.

    “We were also here for the Olympic qualification, so it was great to come back with victory as well.”

    His team-mate Gilles Thomas (Calleryama), who has enjoyed tremendous success this summer including winning the King George V Gold Cup at Hickstead and at the London leg of the Longines Global Champions Tour, also jumped clear in his first Nations Cup Final.

    “I was so happy to cross the finish line. It’s a privilege to be part of this team,” he said.

    Narrow margins at the top of Nations Cup Final leaderboard

    The Belgium team won the Nations Cup Final on a zero score. This was the third time the nation have won this prestigious conclusion to the series. They finished just ahead of France and Switzerland, who both posted team scores of four faults but were split by their cumulative times.

    “All my riders are very strong, with very good horses – they can stand the pressure,” concluded Belgian chef d’equipe Peter Weinberg.

    Belgium team winning the Nations Cup Final in Barcelona

    The Nations Cup Final defending champions, the Netherlands, finished fourth this time around on eight faults.

    Having qualified as one of eight teams for Sunday’s final, Great Britain’s quartet of Ellen Whitaker (Equine America Spacecake), Lily Attwood riding Cor-Leon V Vlierbeek Z, Jodie Hall McAteer on Salt’N Peppa and anchorman Joe Stockdale (Equine America Cacharel) came home on a team score of 16. This placed them equal with Spain but the Team GB showjumpers took fifth position by finishing just three hundredths of a second faster than the hosts in sixth.

    Great Britain’s young star Joe Stockdale agonisingly just tipped the back rail of the final oxer for four penalties when looking nailed for a share of the competition’s lucrative double clear bonus.

    Germany took seventh, ahead of Ireland’s squad of Andrew Bourns (Sea Topblue), Trevor Breen on Highland President, Jack Ryan on BBS McGregor, with a tremendous clear round from Mikey Pender riding HHS Calais.

    You can read the full report from the Longines FEI Nations Cup Final in Barcelona in next week’s issue of Horse & Hound, in the shops Thursday 6 October.

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