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The first round takes place on 28 September and from there the top 8 teams will compete on 1 October in the final decider, while the bottom teams will have to settle for Friday’s Challenge Cup.
Germany are the defending title-holders, but it is The Netherlands who will head to Barcelona as the leaders of Europe Division 1 – arguable the most competitive division and the one which has produced the winning Longines FEI Nations Cup™ Final team since the inception of the new competition format.
The current Longines FEI Nations Cup™ series has been hotly contested and full of record-breaking performances, closely fought qualifiers and a general sense that the competition is beginning to open up to nations other than the usual suspects; France, Germany, The Netherlands, Great Britain.
One has to wonder if The Netherlands will be beatable, but they were certainly lacking some form in the recent European Championships and should that form carry over, there are a few nations waiting in the wings who are hungry to take top spot on the podium.
Italy are lying second in the rankings for Europe Division 1. They have been on fire in this year’s competition with historic back-to-back wins including one on home soil, so they cannot be written off either.
Then there’s the USA and after failing to qualify for the last two years, Canada as well. Canada are likely to turn in a good performance, but seem to lack the potential right now to really shake up the competition in Barcelona.
The USA on the other hand recently won the CSIO 5* event at the prestigious Dublin Horse Show (with an all-female team!) after four double clear rounds and if that momentum carries over, they could pose a serious threat.
And then of course, there’s the French. They won the last remaining qualifier of the series in Gijon, in the process showing the world that they have what it takes to beat the Netherlands when the pressure is on.
Ireland has traditionally always underperformed in team competitions, but they managed to put that reputation to sleep with a gold in Gothenburg, and also put in a gritty and determined performance in Gijon to climb from 6th after the first round to third after the second. They have a very strong team and are coming along in leaps and bounds under the watchful eye of Rodrigo Pessoa.