USA Qualifiy 3rd For Nations Cup Final

Lauren Hough and OhLala, led off with a clear round
Credit : Scoopdyga

Thursday 28 September - 17h50 | Lulu Kyriacou

USA Qualifiy 3rd For Nations Cup Final

It is probably safe to say that the first round of the Longines FEI Nations Cup Final in Barcelona did not go entirely to plan for several of the 15 nations who started in the competition.  Not least of which were the British, who needed a good show in order to regain their place in the first division of the team series, having decided that the road to world championship and Olympic qualification would be through the world's oldest equestrian team competition.  

The venue which hosted the show jumping and dressage at the 1992 Olympic Games offered facilities second to none so they could be no excuses on the basis of the going or other distractions
Today's first round in sunny Barcelona was to whittle down the 15 teams to a more manageable eight for Saturday's final round, the remainder going through to the Challenge Cup on Friday.  As well as the usual ranking points and cash prizes, there are also two bonus' to win for double clears in the two later contests; €100'000  for the Nations Cup and €50'000 for the Challenge Cup  so there was plenty to ride for in addition  to national pride.

Although a good result was essential for Team GBR's future plans, the British challenge did not begin well with eight faults from Scott Brash riding Ursula,  which was matched by Guy Williams and then surpassed by William Whitaker. Ben Maher, riding Quilata  who was lent to him by Emily Moffat for this competition, rode an absolutely superlative clear  but it was sadly too late. The British will have to go back to the drawing board for the team plans, at the moment the glories of the 2012 gold medal seem to belong to a different reality altogether.

The Spanish also did not have a good day, failing to qualify in front of their enthusiastic home supporters.  Brasil also did not make the cut and nor did Italy despite two clears, after a disastrous 24 fault start from Juan Carlos Garcia.

Nor did the new  European Champion despite another fine anchor round by Denis Lynch and All Star, their collective time was not fast enough to beat the other three teams who finished on eight faults. The Irish day not starting well when Cian O'Connor's Good Luck was found to be lame and Shane Breen had to be substituted.  Breen made the most of it and went clear as well  but the Irish were destined for Challenge Cup participation. 
Timing was not an issue with team USA who were also efficiently through, led by  clear from Lauren Hough and Ohlala, then finished in the same manner by World Cup winners McLain Ward and HH Azur.  Beezie Madde just had one down with Darcylou as did Laura Kraut with Confu and the Americans looked smooth and confident.  

At the recent European Championships in Gothenberg it was easy to forget who the current Olympic team champions  are, but for everyone who had forgotten, the French delivered a reminder in convincing style. Only Penelope Leprevost's Vagabond dela Pomme touch a fence  but Kevin Staut (Reveur de Hurtebise) Olivier Roberts (Eros)and Roger Yves Bost (Sydney Une Prince) did not make a single error to finish on a zero score.

As did the Canadian's whose last round was a master class in riding under pressure by Eric Lamaze on Coco Bongo.  Steve Guerdat was another anchor man to keep his team in the hunt as his smooth and fast clear on Bianca was what ultimately finished off the Irish challenge. The anchor men who also needed thanking were Gregory Wathelet (Corrie) who kept Belgium in and Marcus Ehning and Pret A Tout who jumped clear to keep defending champions Germany with the possibility of a second successive win.

It was an exciting contest and bodes well for Saturday's final, when all the teams will start on zero so today's result gives no advantage other than qualification. 

​Details from the show at

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