'Young Guns'
Make their Mark

18 February 2019

Team Mexico won the opening event at Wellington, as another thrilling season of Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ competition got underway this weekend...

Dominating the event with round after round of clear jumping, the young Mexican team showed that their country’s surprise win in Dublin last season wasn’t a fluke.


The Jumping team from Israel were elated to take second place in Sunday’s action for the North America, Central America, and Caribbean League. Team USA, including two former Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ champion duos, rounded out the podium with the bronze medal.


Six nations assembled at Deeridge Farms on the final day of the Palm Springs Masters, enjoying the perfect balmy conditions and forward moving course designed by Ireland’s Alan Wade, with colorful obstacles representing each country.

Young Mexicans
Sealed the

The highest finishing finalists of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ can secure a place in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics...

The United States, Canada, and Mexico were eligible for points to send two teams to the Nations Cup Finals in Barcelona this October, to be held for the seventh year at the venerable Real Club de Polo. In its 110th season, the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ was won by team Belgium last year, who will be no doubt fighting to hold onto their title.


In addition to two teams from the North America, Central America, and Caribbean League, teams from Europe Division 1, Europe Division 2, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia/Australasia will be battling it out for the championship in Barcelona.


There’s an extra prize on the table this year too.


The highest finishing finalist that hasn’t already secured qualification to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games will win a spot to go to Japan.


This is the last opportunity for teams that haven’t done so to grab a berth for Tokyo.


Every team at Wellington completed two rounds of jumping, and the worst score for each round was discarded for the four-rider teams, save for Colombia, who were only competing with three riders, making every attempt count.


The 73-second time limit wasn’t a factor for many, but an open water element, a tight triple combination, and a big oxer at the finish caught out more than a few riders.


At the end of the first round, Mexico was out in front on 0 penalty points, with the USA and Ireland tied on 8 points.

Israel was just behind on 9 penalties, with Canada and Colombia on 12 and 16, respectively.


After educating themselves in the first round, riders in Round 2 saw fewer fences hit the ground, and jumpers from Israel and Mexico had some stellar double clears, with Israel seeing no penalties at all.


Heading into the final rotation of riders, Mexico were still in the lead on a mere 4 points. The USA and Israel were on Mexico’s heels with 8 and 9 points, followed by Ireland, Canada, and Colombia.


With a gorgeous tidy ride from Danielle Goldstein of Israel, her team were guaranteed a podium position by staying on 9 points. But where would they land?


Next up, McLain Ward, anchoring the US team knew he had a critical round ahead of him. If he went clear, the USA would wind up in a jump off with Mexico as part of a group of rule changes for Nations Cup competition.


Alas, Ward sent a rail on the Israel obstacle tumbling for 4 points, leaving the USA to finish on 12 in third place and giving Israel the silver medal.


Competing last for Ireland, Conor Swail saw his ride unravel, and he ended on 12 points, the discard score for his team, who finished on 17 points.

With only Mexico left to go, it came down to Manuel Gonzalez Dufrane to prove that the self-proclaimed “Young Guns” would continue their Wellington triumph...

Turning in a perfect clear round, his second of the day, Gonzalez Dufrane snatched the win for team Mexico, holding onto their 4-point total and racking up 100 qualifying points for Barcelona.


Congratulations were heartfelt in the arena as Gonzalez Dufrane was joined by teammates Fernando Martinez Sommer, Eugenio Garza Perez, and Juan Jose Zendejas Salgado.


Team Ireland was forced to settle for fourth place, with Canada finishing a disappointing fifth and Colombia in sixth.


If the opening event is any indication, Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ action will be even more exhilarating this season than last. To see the next two qualifying legs for the league at Coapexpan, Mexico, and Langley, Canada, stay tuned to FEI TV.


Text by Patricia Salem

Images by Shannon Brinkman


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