CANADIANS GET BEST OF DRAW - NORWEGIANS WILL BE PATHFINDERS
The Canadian team is drawn last to go in tomorrow's Meydan FEI Nations CupTM Final in Barcelona, Spain where the Norwegians will be first into the ring. A total of six nations will now line out following the late withdrawal of Denmark.
The order of go is as follows - 1, Norway; 2, Spain; 3, Finland; 4, Poland; 5, Hungary; 6, Canada.
Canadian Chef d'Equipe, Mark Laskin, has been campaigning his crew in Europe for the last two months. "They are a young group of riders and they've been very consistent. They've been jumping well and are very capable and I expect a good result tomorrow and a great competition" he said. He has Jonathon and Amy Millar, son and daughter of Canadian legend Ian Millar, in his side along with Jenna Thompson and Keean White. Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze is also at the Spanish fixture but is competing only as an individual. Asked if the logistics and expense of bringing a Canadian team to Europe next season if they qualify for the elite Meydan FEI Nations CupTM series tomorrow would prevent them from taking part, Laskin replied, "we'll wait and see what happens first, if it works out that way then we will have a dialogue about it when we get home".
Marco Fuste, Spanish team manager, is looking forward to making a good impression on the home supporters. "We have a strong Spanish team" he said, "and we go out with a lot of hope. We really want to finish in the top two and to qualify for the top league next season" he added.
"We hope to be in the best two teams" said Finland's Lars Parmlor, "but the Canadians are my favourites to win and although we will try to do our best some of our horses are a little tired after a long season". Poland's Wassibauer Rudiger pointed out with an air of realism "we have a dream, but it will still be a dream when the competition finishes tomorrow evening! We are so happy to be here however" he explained. "This is a young and inexperienced team and we have come to learn and to try our best - my favourites for tomorrow are Spain and Canada - for us, anything better than sixth place will be a great success!"
Norway's Sylve Soderstrand seemed quietly confident. "It will be a very open competition tomorrow but hopefully we will be one of the two teams going up" he said. He is fielding much the same group of riders as competed at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Canada last weekend - Connie Bull, Morten Djupvik, Stein Endresen and Geir Gullliksen - "but not with the same horses" he pointed out.
The Hungarian side is led by Michael Bullman who co-managed the British team alongside Ronnie Massarella from 1986 to 2002 and who was Chairman of British selectors for a ten-year period up to 2003. Bullman's Hungarian interests arose through his 28 year old involvement with the late Joe Turi who used to ride his horses carrying the Hungarian flag. He now lives for much of the year at Nagykoras "about 45 minutes south of Budapest and in a beautifully wooded area" for much of the year, but after four years as Hungarian team manager he has now retired and is only stepping back in again for this one extra occasion this weekend. Bullman wasn't holding out tremendous hope for his side but said "Hungary will be trying", and he believes that Spain will put in a fine effort tomorrow while Canada and Norway will also be strong.
Daniel Garcia Giro has taken over from long-time Barcelona CSIO Show Director Hans Peter Vogelsanger and welcomed all the visitors to the popular Spanish venue while FEI Jumping Director, John Roche, said "it's great to be back here for this important moment in the Promotional League. This is the beginning of a new era for equestrian sport, we are on the doorstep of creating a new series that will grow in popularity and general interest and I want to thank Barcelona for hosting this event - the facilities are fantastic, as they have always been since the 1992 Olympic Games were staged here".
And he added that that Spain will also be hosting the 2011 European Championships - in Madrid.
Meydan's Khadija Mohammed Al Turki said that the company is delighted to be associated with the Promotional League and, when asked about developments in the sport of nations cup jumping which this year celebrates its 100th anniversary, John Roche concluded "these competitions will continue forever - they are all about national pride and they have been in existence for a very long time. There have been plenty of changes over time, and no doubt there will be further refinements and fine tuning, but at all levels the sport of nations cup jumping is thriving and a has a long future ahead of it".
The Meydan FEI Nations CupTM Promotional League Final begins tomorrow at 15.30 local time.