It was a day of extreme highs and lows in the city of Barcelona, Spain as the Longines FEI Nations Cup Final got underway to decide who which eight teams would qualify for Saturday’s final, and which would be settling for a consolation cup Friday night.
A few teams rose to the occasion with absolute determination, solidarity and grace when it was perhaps unanticipated: Such was true for Canada, which was the only team to officially enter the final on a zero score, thanks to three double-clear rounds from Tiffany Foster, Yann Candele, and Eric Lamaze. Chris Pratt was the drop score with two rails down.
The anchor rider for Canada, Eric proved why he's a master under pressure! Have a look at Eric and Coco Bongo's beautiful clear round in today's FEI Nations Cup Jumping Final First Qualifier:
Posted by Artisan Farms LLC on Thursday, September 28, 2017
Other teams performed exactly as the season suggested they might: Team USA had collective beautiful trips with only a few bobbles to work through before the finals, featuring clutch performances by first round rider Lauren Hough on the pocket rocket Ohlala and do-or-die excellence by World Cup winners McLain Ward and HH Azur.
The United States have qualified for the FEI Nations Cup Jumping Final on Saturday in Barcelona! Honored to be competing alongside my teammates and thrilled with Ohlala who jumped a super clear round as first in the ring today for #TeamUSA! Have a look at our trip below:
Posted by Lauren Hough on Thursday, September 28, 2017
“[Ohlala] gave an amazing effort today. She made my job really easy and I enjoyed it,” said Lauren after the event. “I actually really enjoyed starting off. I had a plan, so I didn’t even watch anyone go. I walked the course and just stuck with my plan, and she was fantastic. This is a fantastic course builder. That triple at the end is quite fearsome, but I think it is very jumpable.”
McLain was equally workmanlike about the outcome, and was glad they could do their part for the team as the fourth round heated up.
“It was looking like there for a moment that we weren’t even going to have to send the fourth [rider],” said McLain. “But then when you get down to the third and fourth riders you are going to get the more experienced and sometimes stronger combinations. They started to look for clear rounds, so the situation evolved. I knew Azur felt in good form…but I thought she performed beautifully and the main aim was to help the team qualify for Saturday.”
"I thought she performed beautifully. The main aim was to help the team qualify for Saturday."McLain Ward and HH Azur delivered a clutch clear performance to help the HermèsU.S. Show Jumping Team advance to Saturday's Longines FEI Nations Cup Jumping Final at csiobarcelona! Be sure to tune in to FEI TV on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET #SupportYourNation #JoinTheJoy
Posted by USA Show Jumping on Thursday, September 28, 2017
Beezie Madden and Darry Lou suffered a rail at the bogey #2 fence which riders were underestimating all day. Laura Kraut and Confu also had just a single rail and one time fault, which altogether easily kept Team USA in the final hunt.
The Netherlands have had a very strange year of massive hits and misses in the Nations Cup events, but ultimately peaked at the perfect moment thanks to clear rounds from Jur Vrieling and recent LGCT Season Champion Harrie Smolders to finish the day in second.
France was positioned to finish on a zero along with Canada at the top of the board, but an unusual disqualification for Roger Yves Bost meant they would have to count the other three scores. Fortunately, their drop score was Penelope Leprevost’s single rail round, easily maintaining their qualification for Saturday.
Clear rounds from Laura Klaphake and Marcus Ehning along with four-fault rounds from the remaining Germans guaranteed them a tie for second and a slot in the Final on Saturday, despite quite a bit of young and less experienced talent from the defending champions.
What perhaps no one anticipated was the massive tie-breaker that would unfold between Sweden, Belgium, Ireland, and Switzerland who all sat on 8 faults, and meant the tie would be broken by fastest cumulative times, and just one team would be omitted from the tied group.
Devastatingly, the boys of Ireland found themselves sitting on the slowest 8-fault score to miss the finals by mere fractions. It’s a gutting blow to the team who, with the leadership from Chef d’Equipe Rodrigo Pessoa, have been working towards better team results all year with huge success, including winning team gold at the European championships just weeks earlier.
They will join teams who were several penalty points behind in Friday night’s consolation class, the Challenge Cup. That includes host city team Spain, Italy, Great Britain, Brazil, and first-time Nations Cup competitors the United Arab Emirates and New Zealand.
Keep it locked on JN for more from Barcelona, and Go Jumping!