Spring is in the air for the international Eventing community with the eagerly awaited launch this weekend of the FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing 2015 season at the popular French venue of Fontainebleau.
This series, first piloted in 2012, was designed to aid national coaches in preparing their championship squads by providing them with the opportunity to give team experience to a wider selection of riders. Last year, the concept was enthusiastically embraced by 15 nations.
The 2015 season comprises eight FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing competitions across eight countries: France, Ireland, Great Britain, Poland, Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands. They are all run at CIC3* level, apart from the last event of the series in Boekelo (NED), which is a CCI3*. Under the rules for 2015, there has to be a minimum of three teams starting the Dressage phase.
Germany, the reigning Olympic, World and European team Eventing champions, have topped the leaderboard of this series twice in three years, and last season enjoyed an extraordinary winning run across five events: Strzegom (POL), Aachen (GER), Malmö (SWE), Montelibretti (ITA) and Waregem (BEL).
Great Britain, the champions in 2013 and a close second last year, and France, third three years consecutively, have both been equally committed, and the French will be very hard to beat on home ground this weekend where the twisting tracks of the forest at Fontainebleau always prove a technical challenge.
The New Zealanders were so strong last year that they finished fourth on the leaderboard on the strength of only three appearances, two of which were winning ones, and Ireland, the Netherlands and Italy featured strongly as well.
“We are very encouraged by the way riders and team managers have entered into the spirit of the FEI Nations Cup Eventing,” said Catrin Norinder, FEI Director, Eventing & Olympic.
“The series has provided a chance for up-and-coming riders to attract the attention of their team selectors and for some of them it has clearly provided valuable experience before tackling their first championships.
“Every year, the final event of the series has become more and more exciting and there have been some hotly contested competitions on the way. We fully expect 2015 will be an equally competitive series.”
Four nations line up for the opener at Fontainebleau this weekend: France, Australia, with a trio including Chris Burton on his Adelaide CCI4* winner TS Jamaimo, Great Britain, whose squad includes Francis Whittington on the 2014 Blenheim CCI3* winner Easy Target, and the Netherlands, fielding some of the riders from their triumphant bronze medal effort at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014.
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FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing 2015 calendar:
1 Fontainebleau (FRA) 19-22 March
2 Ballindenisk (IRL) 23-26 April
3 Houghton Hall (GBR) 28-31 May
4 Strzegom (POL) 25-28 June
5 Aachen (GER) 11-14 August
7 Montelibretti (ITA) 17-20 September
8 Waregem (BEL) 24-27 September
9 Boekelo (NED) 8-11 October