The French have been the most consistent team in the Samsung Super League series this year, and lead the table by an impressive margin. But the double points available on the final leg of the series, starting at the Barcelona Polo Club tomorrow (Thursday 16 September) mean that either Britain or Germany could overtake the French.
The fight for second, third and fourth place will be the hardest fought, with only three points separating the British, the Germans and the Dutch.
The Dutch have not been consistent in this series this year, and although they had two early victories – in Rome and Luzern, they have failed to hit the jackpot since then, finishing in the lower half of the leaderboard in three of the most recent competitions.
Germany have an uncanny knack of digging deep to find form just when they need it, so although their performances at Hickstead and in Dublin were disappointing (they finished seventh and sixth), they could easily turn the standings around. And they come to the final with the confidence that Olympic Team Gold inspires.
Britain, with the exception of Nick Skelton and Arko, have not looked particularly outstanding in the Super League series, although Robert Smith was on magnificent form at Hickstead when he produced a double clear with Mr Springfield.
The two stalwarts – Nick Skelton and Robert Smith, recently back from their Olympic escapades – will form the backbone of the British team. Nick will have all three of his horses with him: Arko, Russel and Pandur, while Robert will have the choice of Mr Springfield or Marius Claudius.
They will be joined by the Whitaker cousins, Robert and Ellen, who are set to make history as the youngest British team representatives in the Super League series final. The 18-year-old Ellen will have Locarno and Quinten to choose from, while 21-year-old Robert will jump either Qualite, Nicolette or Karina.
It’s not only the top of the table that will be fraught with tense competition. The Italians are currently way behind the rest of the field and face relegation unless they can notch up a victory. The double points available for the final leg of the series mean that they could hoist themselves up to slip just ahead of the Americans. However, their form in this series to date (their best performance was a third place on home ground in Rome), does not suggest that they are likely to avoid relegation.