British and Irish riders in Spain this week for last Nations Cup qualifier before Barcelona Final
This weekend, Gijón, on the coast of the Bay of Biscay in northern Spain, is welcoming world-class show jumping at the CSIO5* Nations Cup, the seventh and concluding qualifier in Europe Division 2 ahead of late September’s Final in Barcelona. Both Great Britain and Ireland are taking part in the competition, part of the 75th Gijón Horse Show.
The Longines FEI Nations Cup series is equestrian sport’s oldest and most historic team challenge, with national teams from dozens of countries around the world competing for one of the most prestigious prizes in this Olympic discipline. At last year’s Final at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Team Great Britain finished in second place to Team Germany after a tense jump-off between Nick Skelton and Marcus Ehning. The United States took the bronze.
As an assurance, however, Britain has selected a strong squad for Gijón to ensure its qualification for Barcelona — to the point that at the recent European Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden, the country decided not to send a show jumping team. That decision was based on ‘available talent’ (top riders like Scott Brash have generally not been available for the Nations Cup circuit) and ‘longer-term’ objectives, for example the Nations Cup Final itself and next year’s World Equestrian Games in North Carolina.
There are thus seven British riders with 18 horses entered for the competition around the Boreal Building in Gijón’s Atlantic Botanical Garden: Alison Barton (18 Donata, Roma IV); Nigel Coupe (Dragon, Golvers Hill, Jubilee III); Ben Maher (MTF Madame X, Winning Good); Jessica Mendoza (Horst Van de Mispelaere, Toy Boy); Laura Renwick (Dominant H, Utrillo de Breve, Van de Vivaldi); Louise Saywell (Lady Lou, Pewit Nono, Tin Tin), and Keith Shore (Coriander Van’t Vennehof, Hermes, Mystic Hurricane).