It’s crunch time at Rotterdam leg of Longines League of Nations™

FEI
Maikel van der vleuten o bailey vd brouwershof rott23l231549

The teams have been confirmed for the fourth and last leg of the inaugural Longines League of Nations™ 2024 series which takes place in Rotterdam in ten days time, and for Belgium, France and Great Britain the pressure will be immense.

Languishing together at the bottom of the leaderboard in joint-eighth place with just 85 points apiece, they need to finish prominently next week if they are to make the cut into the top-eight nations that will qualify for the inaugural Final of the brand new series at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain on 6 October.

After the first two legs, in Abu Dhabi, UAE in February and Ocala in Florida, USA in March, Team Ireland had the whip hand with a 30-point lead over Germany in second place, and with two legs still left to run there was no great cause for alarm for the sides at the bottom of the League table. But the cancellation of round three in St Gallen, Switzerland two weeks ago due to adverse weather conditions has changed all that.

The Belgians, French and British really need to step it up this time out, and even the home side can’t afford to be complacent. As next week’s competition gets underway the Dutch will be lying seventh with 115 points and they’ll need to build on that for sure. However they’ve been unbeatable on home ground for the last three years, so no doubt they’ll be doing all in their power to make it four wins in a row.

Chosen

Henk Nooren’s French side looks really strong with Simon Delestre, Julien Epaillard, Olivier Perreau and Kevin Staut flying their flag this time out. And the British are not holding back, fielding Harry Charles, Tim Gredley and Joseph Stockdale along with reigning Olympic champion Ben Maher. Meanwhile the third of the vulnerable teams at the bottom of the table, Belgium, also looks rock solid with Pieter Devos, Abdel Saïd and Gilles Thomas joined by Koen Vereecke.

After their back-to-back hat-trick of home wins the Dutch crowd will be expecting big things from their foursome, but Kim Emmen, Willem Greve, Harrie Smolders and Maikel van der Vleuten are well up to the task. Just five points separate them from Team Sweden in sixth place, so those Swedes need to stay on their toes too. However team manager Henrik Ankarcrona has selected three of the team that won Olympic gold in Tokyo (JPN) three years ago - longtime world number one Henrik von Eckermann, Peder Fredricson and Malin Baryard-Johnsson - along with five-time Olympian Rolf-Göran Bengtsson, and they look very formidable indeed.

The exciting Brazilian side consists of Stephan de Freitas Barcha, Luciana Diniz, Rodrigo Pessoa and Pedro Veniss and with 125 points collected so far they lie in fifth place on the leaderboard, just ten points adrift of fourth-placed Team USA who will be represented by veteran multi-medallists Laura Kraut and McLain Ward along with Jessica Springsteen and Callie Schott.

Solidify

Lying third, Switzerland carries 150 points into next week’s contest and it is up to Romain Duguet, Edouard Schmitz, Pius Schwizer and Janika Sprunger to solidify their position while Otto Becker’s German team of Marcus Ehning, Christian Kukuk, Richard Vogel and Philipp Weishaupt won’t be wanting to relinquish their second-place slot. And with their noses out in front the Irish won’t be keen to lose their advantage either.

So Irish Chef d’Equipe, Michael Blake, is sending a crack side that includes Daniel Coyle, Cian O’Connor, Shane Sweetnam and Mark McAuley and clearly the green-team mean business and intend to stay top of the Longines League of Nations™ 2024 standings ahead of the Final. But of course horse sport being what it is, no-one can predict the outcome until the last combination has galloped through the timers in Rotterdam on Friday 21 June.

Statistics

Here are some statistics from the two legs of the series so far:

A total of 80 horse-and-rider combinations have started, jumping 124 rounds with four eliminated and two opting to retire. A total of 1,801 fences have been jumped and there have been 19 single clear rounds and 10 double-clear rounds while just seven refusals have been recorded - one at a vertical fence, two at an oxer and four at the open water obstacle. You can find lots more interesting details here.

CHIO Rotterdam is one of the Top Three hospitality events in The Netherlands, and in 2024 celebrates its 75th anniversary. It is the only Dutch outdoor 5* FEI event, and is organised at the beautiful Kralingse Bos, a wooded park surrounding the Kralingse Park lake.

The teams for the fourth leg of the Longines League of Nations™ 2024 will parade in the Rotterdam arena at 15.30 on Friday 21 June and the action will get underway at 16.00 local time. With qualification for the Final hanging in the balance it will be crunch time for the top 10 nations, so don’t miss a hoofbeat….

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