FEI NATIONS CUP 2011 – Promotional League Final – Preview SEVEN NATIONS LINE OUT FOR FEI PROMOTIONAL LEAGUE FINAL IN BARCELONA by Louise Parkes
The line-up for the next year’s FEI Nations Cup™ series will be decided on Sunday following the all-important Final of the 2011 FEI Promotional League which takes place in Barcelona, Spain. The winning team will earn a place in the 2012 Top League alongside Germany, Great Britain, France, Ireland, The Netherlands and Belgium who all re-qualified during this season’s eight-nation tournament. After a year’s absence, Switzerland is already assured of a return to the elite group, having claimed the 2011 FEI Promotional League title. Next Sunday’s competition will fill the last remaining qualifying spot.
The Spanish hosts are amongst the seven nations who will battle it out, and they certainly cannot be overlooked. They just missed out on one of the three Olympic qualifying places available at last week’s thrilling FEI European Jumping Championships on their home turf in Madrid. Pilar Cordon was particularly impressive over the early days of the competition, eventually slotting into 23rd individually, and the 38 year old rider is joined by an experienced crew that includes Julio Arias, Sergio Alvarez Moya, Rutherford Latham and Antonio Marinas Soto. Adding an extra dimension of excitement for the Spanish contestants is the centennial celebration of CSIO Barcelona which was first staged in 1902.
Olympic champion, Eric Lamaze, heads up the Canadian selection, and will be joined by Jill Henselwood, Chris Pratt and Jenna Thompson. Italian Chef d’Equipe, former Swiss jumping star Markus Fuchs, has five riders to choose from, and with Juan Carlos Garcia, Emanuele Gaudiano, Giulia Martinengo Marquet, Luca Marziani and Luca Maria Moneta on call-up, has no shortage of talent and experience available to him either. The Polish team cut their teeth in the Top League last summer and, although their presence was short-lived, they showed dramatic improvement as the season progressed. So team manager Rudiger Wassibauer will be hoping for a good result from Msciwoj Kiecon, Andrzej Lemanski, Antoni Tomaszewski and Lukasz Walilewski on Sunday afternoon.
Russia’s Arseny Shpakovskiy and Tibor P had an unlucky moment on the opening day at Madrid last week when the grey horse misread the final fence and crashed through it. They otherwise showed plenty of sparkle and, along with Vladimir Beletsky, Olga Chechina and Vladimir Tuganov they can be expected to make their mark this weekend. One of the biggest threats however may be the side from The Ukraine. Already qualified for London 2012 through their good performance at Aachen, Germany in July they now have a place in the 2012 FEI Nations Cup™ series in their sights. Bjorn Nagel, Katherina Offel, Oleksandr Onyshchenko and Cassio Rivetti may well prove tough nuts to crack. Onyshchenko and Rivetti are listed with two horses previously competed by Ireland’s Cian O’Connor – K Club Lady and Temple Road.
The ones they may all have to beat however are the Swedish team who booked an Olympic berth last week when finishing fifth in the FEI European Jumping Team Championship in Madrid. They looked rock solid through the course of the week which finished on an even more triumphant note when the super-cool Rolf-Goran Bengtsson also claimed the Individual European title in superb style. The newly-crowned champion is joined in Barcelona by Svante Johansson, Peder Fredricson, Malin Baryard-Johnsson and Angelica Augustsson, and the Swedes should be firm favourites in the race for the final qualifying place when the action gets underway at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona at 13.30 local time on Sunday. The draw for the order-of-go takes place on Saturday afternoon.
THE 2011 FEI PROMOTIONAL LEAGUE consists of three separate series – the European Promotional League, the Challengers League and the North and South America League – from which countries can qualify for the Top League FEI Nations Cup™. A total of three teams from the European and Challengers Leagues, and one from the North and South America series, are eligible to compete at the FEI Promotional League Final in Barcelona, Spain in September. The winning team from this competition will qualify for the 2012 FEI Nations Cup™ along with the 2011 European Promotional League champions.