British riders Ellen Whitaker, Joe Stockdale, Jodie Hall McAteer and Lily Attwood will be in command this afternoon (Thursday 29 September) in the first round of the Longines FEI Nations Cup Final in Barcelona, Spain.
A total of 14 nations line up for this prestigious Nations Cup series final, which takes place at the Real Club in Barcelona, all vying for a place in the final on Sunday afternoon, when the winner will be decided. .
With an average age of just 25, the British squad is brimming with young talent. Pathfinder Ellen Whitaker, 36, is the senior member of the team and rides Tilly Shaw’s 10-year-old mare, Equine America Spacecake. The only rider in the British team to win bronze at the World Jumping Championships last month is Joe Stockdale, 22, with his top mare Equine America Cacharel. Jodie Hall McAteer, also 22, brings her superstar Salt’N Peppa, 13, and the team anchor is Lily Attwood, 20, and the extremely consistent Cor-Leon V Vlierbeek Z. The fifth member of the British team at Barcelona is William Whitaker, a late replacement for Harry Charles after his Casquo Blue mount was not fit enough to compete.
“The Brits are always looking forward to coming to Barcelona for the Nations Cup final and we have a group of riders who are very excited to be here,” said team manager Di Lampard.
Reigning Nations Cup Final champions
The reigning champions are the Netherlands, three times winners of this final, represented by the sizes Maikel van der Vleuten (Beauville Z NOP), Johnny Pals (Zarkava Hero Z), Jur Vrieling (Long John Silver 3) and Harrie Smolders . on Monaco NOP with Jos Lansink at the helm.
Argentina and Brazil, who were drawn first, will represent South America while Canada and Mexico qualified ahead of surprise absentees USA.
Host Spain, as well as Belgium, France, Germany and Switzerland will also be in action.
French team manager Henk Nooren said: “We are bringing the same team we had at the World Championships in Herning, but we have to see how the horses are in shape because most of them have only jumped only one show since Herning, so there’s a bit of a question mark but we’ll see!
The Irish team ‘hope to be lucky – and good’
Ireland will be well represented by Trevor Breen (Highland President), Jack Ryan (BBS McGregor), Mark McAuley (Jasco V Bisschop) and Andrew Bourns (Sea Topblue).
“We love Barcelona and we’re reasonably lucky here normally, so hopefully we’ll be lucky and good this year!” said Irish team leader Michael Blake. “We have a slightly less experienced team, they have experience but have never been to this final before.”
Sweden, the reigning Olympic and world champions, is another country bringing a younger team of runners to Barcelona. After finishing bottom of the European Division 1 series alongside Norway, they failed to secure direct qualification for the Nations Cup final, but with no participating teams from the Middle East Region present, the two countries were invited to compete.
“We are delighted to be here and happy to be here because we were struggling a bit, but now we are here with a team from the future, I hope,” said Swedish team manager Henrik Ankarcrona.
With eight of the world’s top 18 riders in action, it’s sure to be a fierce and exciting competition.
Surprisingly, the Swiss have never won the Longines FEI Nations Cup Final title but they, along with Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and Norway, will be in contention for the only qualification place offered for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games from this competition. .
Competition begins for all 14 nations at 13:00 BST on Thursday 29 September, with the top eight going straight to Sunday’s €1,250,000 final. The six remaining countries return on Saturday evening for the Challenge Cup, won last year by Great Britain. The Olympic track designer Santiago Varela will again set the tracks.
- H&H brings you all the news from the Longines FEI Nations Cup Final online and a full report in next week’s magazine, on sale in stores on Thursday 6 October
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Credit: Peter Nixon
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