Defending champions from Belgium get best of draw for first round of 2016 Furusiyya Final: FEI Press Release

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With 18 teams from all around the globe vying for the coveted trophy, and a host of Olympic medallists in the mix, the fourth series final looks set to be a thriller

Barcelona Show Director Daniel Giro and FEI Jumping Director John Roche conduct the draw

You need a combination of good riding and good luck on the day

The defending champions from Belgium have the favoured last-to-go spot in the starting order for tomorrow’s first round of the €2 million Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2016 Final in Barcelona (ESP). The draw took place this evening at the Real Club de Polo where a total of 18 nations from all across the globe have gathered for the much-anticipated conclusion to another fantastic season of team competition.

The order-of-go is as follows:

1. Switzerland
2. Great Britain
3. Egypt
4. Germany
5. Spain
6. Netherlands
7. Colombia
8. Mexico
9. France
10. Qatar
11. Brazil
12. Italy
13. USA
14. Australia
15. Austria
16. Sweden
17. Ireland
18. Belgium

Being first into the ring is never easy, and the Swiss will be pathfinders for all the remaining nations as the action gets underway tomorrow afternoon at 16.00 local time. “I’m not very happy to go back to my team with the No. 1 slot, but maybe it’s a good sign and at the end we will also finish in first position!” said Swiss Chef d’Equipe Andy Kistler whose impressive selection includes Romain Duguet, Paul Estermann, Martin Fuchs, Steve Guerdat and Janika Sprunger.

Made the cut

Belgian team manager, Dirk Demeersman, is grateful that his country made the cut into the Final despite a disappointing season. “We are very happy to be here, especially this year as we didn’t have such a good year, but at the end we had a bit of luck to get through and we will try to defend the title. My riders are very motivated and I’m confident that they will do their best” said the man who will choose his side from Niels Bruynseels, Pieter Devos, Jerome Guery, Nicola Philippaerts and Gregory Wathelet.

All three of the team medal-winning countries at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will be represented, and the gold medallists from France will be coming out with all guns blazing as they field their full Olympic side of Roger Yves Bost, Penelope Leprevost, Philippe Rozier and Kevin Staut.

In contrast, the American silver medallists field just one of their four Rio riders, Lucy Davis who will be joined by Lauren Hough, Lillie Keenan, Laura Kraut and Audrey Coulter. “This is a very important stop for us here in Barcelona. Behind Rio it was a no 1 priority for us to qualify and do our best once we got here. We had Olympic riders in Europe and used them a lot to qualify, but it’s not just them, it’s all the riders at home that got us here. The team we have here is an all-girl team. We’ve left the boys at home but feel we’ve got a good shot!” said US team manager Robert Ridland.

Bronze medallists

Team Germany includes three of the bronze medallists from Brazil, Ludger Beerbaum, Daniel Deusser and World No. 1 Christian Ahlmann who will be joined by Marcus Ehning and Janne Friederike Meyer. And the Brazilians who put in such a great effort on their home turf during the Games will be sure to give it everything they’ve got. They send out three of riders who flew their flag in Rio - Stephan de Freitas de Barcha, Doda de Miranda and Pedro Veniss - along with Rodrigo Pessoa and Felipe Amaral.

Few can have forgotten the emotion of the Jumping Final in Rio in which Nick Skelton went into the record books when taking the first-ever Individual gold medal for Great Britain. So the 58-year-old rider’s presence, along with his brilliant horse Big Star who made it happen, has heightened the interest in the British side that looks very strong indeed. Backed up by Scott Brash, Tim Stockdale and the legendary Whitaker brothers John and Michael, the British have to be a force to be reckoned with. Drawn second to go tomorrow they are not in the ideal position but their Chef d’Equipe, Di Lampard, wasn’t perturbed this evening. “We placed second overall last year and we will keep our fingers crossed we can go one better this time around!” she said.

Best foot forward

Of course the Spanish are determined to put in their best foot forward too. “We had a reasonable result at the Games and we hope to be just a bit better here and try to be in the top eight tomorrow so that we make it into the final competition on Saturday night” said Chef d’Equipe Marco Fuste. But he knows every other team will be attempting to do the same. “With 18 countries there are so many trying to deny you that place. You need a combination of good riding and good luck on the day, because in the end it’s just the rub of a pole that can make all the difference. You look at the list and you think - this team is strong - but then you look again and the next one is stronger and the following one even stronger again!

“For three years we have had three fantastic Furusiyya Finals here, with sport at the highest level. Barcelona is a very special place, the weather is fantastic and the riders enjoy being able to compete outdoors in the last Nations Cup of the year. I know it’s going to be great” he added.

The fourth Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Final at the Real Club de Polo looks set to be another thriller, and with €250,00 in bonus prizemoney on offer for double-clear rounds on top of the overall prizefund of €2,113,900, there is every incentive for the very best of top sport.

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Louise Parkes
Fédération Equestre Internationale
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