Japan to Lead the Way in First Round of the Long-Awaited Furusiyya Final

September 27th, 2013 10:51 AM | Comments Off on Japan to Lead the Way in First Round of the Long-Awaited Furusiyya Final
By Louise Parkes, FEI

The 18 Chefs d’Equipe pictured at the draw for the first competition in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Final which begins tomorrow afternoon at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain. Pictured (L to R): Kurt Gravemeier (BEL), Jean Maurice Bonneau (BRA), Stevie Macken (AUS), Thomas Istinger (AUT), Mark Laskin (CAN), Philippe Guerdat (FRA), Rob Hoekstra (GBR), Mauricio Ruiz (COL), Robert Splaine (IRL), Rob Ehrens (NED), Hirokazu Higashira (JPN), William Meeuws (QAT), Rogier van Iersel (KSA), Marco Fuste (ESP), Sylve Söderstrand (SWE), Chami Najib (UKR), Urs Grünig (SUI), Robert Ridland (USA). Photo: FEI/Tomas Holcbecher.

Sept. 26-Japan will be first to go while Canada will be last into the arena when the opening round of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Final gets underway in Barcelona, Spain tomorrow afternoon.  The draw for order-of-go took place this evening, and a total of 18 countries will line out in the event which brings the inaugural Furusiyya season to a thrilling conclusion.

The drawn order is as follows : 1, Japan; 2, Spain; 3, Austria; 4, France; 5, USA; 6, Ukraine; 7, Qatar; 8, Sweden; 9, Ireland; 10, Colombia; 11, Switzerland; 12, Saudi Arabia; 13, Australia; 14, Netherlands; 15, Brazil; 16, Great Britain; 17, Belgium; 18, Canada.

The draw was conducted by Daniel Garcia Giro, Director of CSIO 5* Barcelona, and John Roche, FEI Jumping Director.  Just hours ahead of the first horse into the ring, there’s a real sense of history in the making at the Spanish showground.  “It’s not just our Club, but the city of Barcelona that is very happy to be hosting this important Final” Daniel Giro said, wishing all of the teams the very best of luck in their endeavours over the next three days.

Intriguing

Everything about this new-format Furusiyya series has been intriguing from the outset, and the rules for the Final are no exception.

Teams of up to five riders were eligible to qualify, and, of the 18 competing nations, 15 have sent the maximum number of horse/rider combinations.  Chefs d’Equipe this evening named four riders for tomorrow’s first competition, but one team-member can be replaced in both Saturday’s Consolation class and Sunday’s third Final competition.  It won’t be a matter of choice for the Australians however, as they have came to Barcelona with just three in their side, while Saudi Arabia and Japan arrived with just four each.

In the event of a jump-off on Sunday afternoon there is also the possibility of another interesting twist.  Only three riders from each team will go against the clock, but not necessarily those who competed in the first round.  One could be a horse/rider combination that competed in Friday’s opening class.  And, just to keep us all guessing even further, the team manager is permitted to change his order-of-go for Sunday’s jump-off if he wishes.

It has been a learning curve for everyone involved throughout the season, but there is great anticipation and excitement in the air as it draws to a thrilling conclusion.

Listed his Team

Australian Chef d’Equipe is Stevie Macken, son of legendary Irish rider Eddie Macken, and he listed his team order this evening. The hugely experienced Edwina Tops-Alexander will be first to go followed by William James Passey and Julia Hargreaves.  Drawn 13th, they will have plenty of time to assess the difficulties on the course before stepping into the ring. In contrast, the Austrian team will have no opportunity to learn from previous riders because they are drawn third.  Chef d’Equipe, Thomas Istinger, said stoically today however, “we will be fine – we can depend on Thomas Fruhmann!”, and there could hardly be a more reliable man for them to depend on, because it was at this very showgrounds, back in 1992, that the 61-year-old veteran clinched individual Olympic silver with a horse called Genius.  Fruhmann will be Austria’s second-line rider, with Dieter Kofler selected as pathfinder while Julia Kayser and Stefan Eder complete the pack.

For the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia tomorrow is going to be a very special day because it is the Saudi Equestrian Fund that has provided the essential financial support that has broken the mould for the sport of Nations Cup Jumping this season.  And it is already a huge success story.

At this evening’s draw, Saudi Arabia’s Chef d’Equipe, Rogier van Iersel, said that he was happy enough with his team’s twelfth-place starting spot. He sends out Ramzy Al Duhami, HRH Prince Abdullah Bin Metab Al Saud, Prince Faisal Al Shalan and Kamal Bahamdan to fly the flag.  When asked which team he would consider favourites to take the inaugural Furusiyya title, van Iersel said “it’s a totally new formula so it’s very difficult to predict, but the British and Americans would be my favourites to win”.

Belgian team manager, Kurt Gravemeier, confirmed his side as Francois Mathy Jr., Pieter Devos, Axel Verlooy and Nicola Philippaerts, while Brazilian Chef d’Equipe, Jean-Maurice Bonneau named his order-of-go as Rodrigo Pessoa, Eduardo Menezes, Marlon Zanotelli and Alvaro de Miranda.  Asked if he expected his side to produce a winning performance, Bonneau replied “we will have to leave the top poles up twice, so we will see!”

Colombia’s Mauricio Ruiz was not over-estimating his side’s chances, but he sees this weekend’s Furusiyya Final as great experience for his riders.  “We are in good shape, but hopefully we will be even better next year.  We will try our best, and it’s great to be here!” he pointed out.  Daniel Bluman will lead the way for the Colombian team, backed up by Roberto Teran Tafur, Rodrigo Diaz and Arroyave Dayro.

Not Overjoyed

The host nation team manager, Marco Fuste, was not overjoyed when his side was drawn second, “but that’s life” he said, “and the only thing really is to find out about the time-allowed, we will have the support of the crowd because traditionally they always give us fantastic support” he added.  He sends out Sergio Moya followed by Carlos Lopez-Fanjul, Paola Amilibia Puig and, finally, Julio Arias.

Philippe Guerdat said the draw could have been better for the French team, but that by watching Spain’s Sergio Moya and Carlo, who ride the course before his first rider, he will learn a lot.  “We know that Carlo is fast, so it will give us a good idea about the time and what we must do” he said.  His line-up is Patrice Delaveau followed by Simon Delestre, Aymeric de Ponnat and Penelope Leprevost, and when asked what country will be standing on the top step of the podium on Sunday he quickly replied “I hope it will be us!”

Rob Hoekstra has every reason to feel confident.  This, after all, is a man whose results include London 2012 Olympic Games team gold and, most recently, the PSI FEI European Championship team title as well. And luck was on his side today when Great Britain was drawn in 16th spot – “it’s a great place to start but not to finish” he said with a laugh this evening. He sends out his full European Championship side of Ben Maher, Michael Whitaker, William Funnell and Brash Scott “but not all on their European team horses” Hoekstra pointed out.

Irish Chef d’Equipe, Robert Splaine, said he was happy with his team drawn in ninth place.  “I have four experienced guys here – Cameron Hanley, Denis Lynch, Billy Twomey and Shane Breen – and four horses in good shape.  We’ve had to make some changes before coming here because of horses getting injured and being sold, but we will do a good job”.  Looking ahead he said “there are a lot of strong teams, and the British are on a roll so they should be feeling really confident, but there are plenty of others who want to be winners too!”

Momentous Occasion

For Japan this is a momentous occasion as they field a side that will take on the best in the world.  But they are not completely fazed and have two very serious operators in Eiken Sato and Taizo Sugitani.  Asked about his expectations for his side, Chef d’Equipe Hirokazu Higashira said “we don’t intend to finish last!”  His line-up is completed by Satoshi Hirao and Toshiki Masui.

Dutch Chef d’Equipe, Rob Ehrens, joked “we are having a better start than normal!” after his team was drawn 14th to go.  “Our horses are in good shape and our riders are focused” he said ominously.  Jur Vrieling will lead the way for The Netherlands with Willem Greve next in line ahead of Maikel van der Vleuten and finally Jeroen Dubbedam.

Willem Meeuws, deputising for Qatar Chef d’Equipe Jan Tops, said that going seventh was fine, “the later the better, but we can live with it!” Sheikh Ali bin Khalid Al Thani, Mubarak Yousef Al Rumaihi, Bassem Hassan Mohammed and Ali Yousef Al Rumaihi will start in that order for the Qatari side.  Switzerland’s Urs Grunig said “our horses are feeling good and our riders are hungry for a good result” so with Beat Mandli, Paul Estermann, Olympic champion Steve Guerdat and Pius Schwizer on call-up they should present formidable opposition.

Jens Fredricson leads the sway for Sweden followed by Angelica Augustsson, Peder Fredricson and Rolf-Goran Bengtsson.  No wonder then that Chef d’Equipe, Sylve Soderstrand, said “I’m feeling quite confident”.  Ukraine’s Chami Najib said his line-up will be Cassio Rivetti following by Oleg Krasyuk, Ulrich Kirchhoff and Katarina Offel while America’s Robert Ridland named McLain Ward, Reed Kessler, Lucy Davis and Beezie Madden in that order.  He has two riders under 21 years of age in his side and, teamed with the immense experience of Ward and Madden, Ridland said Kessler and Davis “have a right to be here now” due to fantastic recent form.

Canada’s Mark Laskin arrived late to the draw and so was last to name his side of Tiffany Foster, Mac Cone, Jonathan Asselin and Eric Lamaze.  Everything is now in place ahead of tomorrow’s thriller….

Excited

Reigning Olympic champion, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat, is as excited as everyone else about how the very first Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping final will play itself out over the coming days.

“We have been fighting all year and waiting all year for this week, and now we are excited that it is finally here! It is the first time (for the event to take place) so we don’t know exactly what to expect, but for sure it is going to be great sport, and that is the most important thing!” he said today.

The inaugural Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Final will take place at Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain from 26-29 September 2013.  For all information on the Spanish fixture go to the event website www.csiobarcelona.com or contact Press Officer Isabel Suter at email isuter@rcpolo.com or telephone +34 760 258 222.

Comments are closed.