Italy first in the ring for 2014 Furusiyya Nations Cup Final…

Emmanuele Gaudiano will compete in Poland for the Furusiyya Nations Cup Division 2

Italy will be first to go, and Germany will be last of the 14 teams into the arena, when the much-anticipated Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2014 Final gets underway tomorrow at Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain. The event kicks off at 16.30 local time and, following this evening’s draw, the order-of-go for the opening competition is:

1, Italy; 2, Sweden; 3, Australia; 4, USA; 5, Qatar; 6, Netherlands; 7, Venezuela; 8, Brazil; 9, France; 10, Belgium; 11, Great Britain; 12, Canada; 13, Spain; 14, Germany.

Norway’s late withdrawal means that Ireland, placed second-last in Europe Division 1 this season, will remain in the elite league for 2015. But for the teams at the Spanish venue this week it is all about the success of reaching the prestigious Final and the battle for the coveted Furusiyya title, which brings with it the richest Nations Cup prize-fund in the world.

Team France will defend the title they won at the inaugural Final staged at the same venue last year. Four qualified teams have withdrawn – Egypt, Japan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Norway. There will be a total of 14 participating nations with 13 teams consisting of four horse-and-rider combinations and 1 team consisting of just three horse-and-rider combinations – Qatar.
A total of 55 horse-and-rider combinations in total will compete in Barcelona, Spain this week. Three of the riders competing at this week’s final also competed in Jumping at the 1992 Olympic Games at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona – Germany’s Ludger Beerbaum who claimed individual gold that summer, British legend Michael Whitaker and Juan Carlos Garcia who was then flying the Colombian flag but who now competes for Italy.

Tomorrow’s opening competition is critical as the top eight teams will qualify for Saturday night’s finale in which there is €1,500,000 on offer along with a €200,000 bonus to be split between riders jumping clear in the first competition and again in the first round of the Final itself. The remaining six countries will battle it out for €300,000 in Friday’s Challenge Cup in which there is a similar bonus of €50,000 to be shared amongst the double clears.

The ambitions of the 14 competing countries were outlined by the Chefs d’Equipe this evening after the draw. Australia’s Stevie Macken said “I think our chances this year will be better than last year because then we came with just three riders which was not ideal! We need a lot of luck, we’re certainly not the strongest team here, but we are an emerging team and if everything goes well tomorrow then anything is possible” he pointed out.

Great Britain’s Rob Hoekstra talked about having Michael Whitaker and his nephew, William, in his side. “Hopefully they will work well together, William is one of our top riders on the way up and Michael is very experienced but he is riding an inexperienced horse. Spencer Roe had a great season and he is still only 20 years old. This is mainly a young team and it’s about building towards next year’s European Championships, so my main aim is to get into the top eight here this week” he explained.

Canada’s Mark Laskin said “I always feel that Canada is in the mix, and in with a chance, but we have to be at our best and hopefully we will have a little luck with us!”, while Germany’s Otto Becker didn’t try to hide the fact that he, and his super-powerful side, are on a mission. “We were very frustrated not to be here last year (at the 2013 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Final in Barcelona), but it’s not easy. Tomorrow is just one round (of competition) and anything can happen. Our target is to make it through to Saturday and I hope we can do it” he said with determination.

Source: FEI