There’s plenty to celebrate as the equestrian world descends on the city of Barcelona this week: the conclusion of the 108th season of FEI Nations Cup Jumping, the 25th anniversary of the Barcelona Olympic Games, and the fact that New Zealanders are in amongst it on the world show jumping stage.
Fifteen nations are ready to do battle for the Longines FEI Nations Cup Jumping 2017 title. As well as New Zealand, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and the USA will line up in Thursday’s qualifying competition. Only eight nations will make the cut for Saturday night’s deciding class, so errors will be costly from the outset.
Series champions in 2015, the Belgians were relegated last year but fought brilliantly this season to top Europe Division 2, earning their place at the Final and a return to Division 1 in 2018.
One of the biggest sensations in Europe Division 1 this summer has been the re-emergence of Team Italy after decades in the doldrums. They won their home leg of the series in Rome in May for the first time in 32 years, and have not looked back since.
The defending champions are Team Germany , and the always formidable French arrive in Barcelona with the glow of Olympic team gold still keeping them warm.
The Swedish team includes newly-crowned individual European Champion Peder Fredricson, but the ones they may all have to watch out for are the Irish, who were in great form in Gothenburg a month back, and took the team title for only the second time.
Team USA will be no walk-over, and has a star-studded side which includes the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping 2017 champions McLain Ward and HH Azur, as well as multiple medallist Beezie Madden.
New Zealand will have Samantha McIntosh on Check In 2, Bruce Goodin and Centina 10, Richard Gardner and Calisto 5, and Daniel Meech on the lovely mare Fine.
Helena Stormanns is chef d’equipe for our team and there will be a number of Kiwis attending the event, including Jackie Jermyn and Sam’s mother Penny Stevenson.
Sam has had Check In 2 for two years. He is a 14-year-old German-bred stallion by Bockmann’s Cordalme Z out of Ilonka (by Lord Pezi). Sam has ridden at the Sydney Olympic Games, three FEI World Equestrian Games and a World Cup Final.
The grey mare Centina 10, by Cento out of Argentina (by Argentinus) was New Zealand’s sole jumping representative at the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games in France with Bruce Goodin. Bruce is very experienced and is returning to the scene of his first Olympic Games – Barcelona. He also competed at Sydney, Athens and Beijing.
Richard’s Calisto is a nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Colman, out of Tiffany I (by Quintero).
Daniel has the promising Fine, a nine-year-old Swedish warmblood bay mare who is by Corlensky G, out of Cicilia (by Ciceron). Daniel is New Zealand’s highest placed individual at Olympic show jumping, with his 12th place finish at the 2004 Athens Games. He also rode at Atlanta in 1996.
The ingredients are all in place for a classic clash of the giants in the exquisite surroundings of the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona which, a quarter of a century ago, hosted Olympic show jumping. It may just require an Olympic performance to take the Longines FEI Nations Cup Jumping 2017 title over the coming days! Bring it on!