By Louise Parkes: The Italian team will be pathfinders as the much-anticipated FEI Nations Cup™ Promotional League Final gets underway at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain tomorrow afternoon (PROMOTIONAL LEAGUE FINAL). A total of seven nations will battle it out for the last remaining qualifying spot in the 2012 FEI Nations Cup™ series, and the order-of-go for tomorrow’s competition is as follows:
1, Italy; 2, Ukraine; 3, Russia; 4, Canada; 5, Sweden; 6, Spain; 7, Poland.
It is expected to be a hard-fought affair, and three of the teams may comprise only three riders instead of the full complement of four, allowing them no drop-score as a result. At today’s press conference, Canadian Chef d’Equipe, Mark Laskin, announced that his side may be only three-strong, while both Poland’s Rudiger Wassibauer and Russian team manager Aleksander Varnavskiy, both confirmed that their sides will be one rider short.
FEI Jumping Director, John Roche, congratulated the OrganIsing Committee on the significant improvements made to the showgrounds for the 2011 fixture, during which CSIO Barcelona celebrates its centenary. The Real Club de Polo was the Jumping venue during the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, and has a long and strong connection with equestrian sport.
Looking forward to tomorrow’s clash, John Roche said “the home team is very motivated going into the Final, and of course the Swedish team has been boosted by the fabulous result produced by Rolf-Goran Bengtsson who won the Individual title at the FEI European Jumping Championships in Madrid last Sunday. We have competitors of the highest calibre here this weekend including the No. 1 rider on the Rolex World Rankings and reigning Olympic gold medallist Eric Lamaze representing Canada, so we can look forward to a great day’s sport” he added.
The lack of strength in depth in the three-man sides may play into the hands of the Spanish and Swedes who both look strong, but the teams from The Ukraine and Italy are also likely to come out with all guns blazing so it is very much still all to play for in the battle for that last place in the 2012 FEI Nations Cup™ series line-up.
Already qualified are the countries that filled the top six places on the Top League 2011 leaderboard – Great Britain, The Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium, France and the series champions from Germany. Two teams – Denmark and the USA – were relegated following the last leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ in Rotterdam, The Netherlands last month and they will be replaced by Switzerland, winners of the FEI Promotional League series 2011, and the winning side in tomorrow’s competition.
The weather in Barcelona is pleasant, partly cloudy with some light rain early in the morning and temperatures ranging around 24 degrees. A parade of teams will take place tomorrow afternoon at 3pm local time, and then the action, over the course designed by Spain’s Javier Trenor, will begin 30 minutes later.