Gorla sets the stage for the Longines EEF Series
A new beginning for the sport of Nations Cup Jumping… by Louise Parkes
Nations Cup history will be made at CSIO3* Gorla Minore in Varese, Italy this weekend when the very first leg of the brand new Longines EEF series takes place.
Despite the many challenges presented by both the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent EHV outbreak in horses, teams from 11 countries have enthusiastically signed up for the season-opener. And there is a huge sense of anticipation as equestrian sport recalibrates and looks forward to top-class competition once again.
While some things may be very different in the current climate of great caution around both human and horse health, a lot will be very much the same. The raw excitement of Nations Cup Jumping is like nothing else, as the pride of flying their country’s flag drives riders to give it everything they’ve got, and more.
Replacing the former Division 2, the Longines EEF series provides a new platform for the growth and development of equestrian sport across Europe which is divided into four regional groups – North, West, South and Central. Athletes from any of the 38 EEF countries can compete in any of the seven scheduled qualifiers which lead to the Final in Warsaw, Poland in July, and visiting nations are also welcome. In these uncertain times of course it is impossible to predict if everything will go according to plan, but both Longines and the EEF are fully committed to making the programme of events as extensive as possible over the coming months.
Following the opening leg in Italy, the series will visit the Greek capital of Athens on 6 June, Uggerhalne in Denmark on 11 June, Bojouristhe in Bulgaria on 20 June and Drammen in Norway on 27 June. The last qualifying round will take place in Budapest, Hungary on 9 July and the Final will be staged in Warsaw 25 July. It’s going to be a very busy summer.
Teams are encouraged to include at least one female athlete and an up-and-coming young rider as well. The British have taken that seriously, with three ladies in their side for the first leg including 23-year-old Georgia Tame who is likely to learn a very great deal when competing alongside six-time Olympian and double FEI World Cup champion John Whitaker who, at the age of 65, has a world of wisdom to impart.
The startlist is littered with many other veteran performers like Maria Larocca of Argentina, Germany’s Hans-Dieter Dreher and Sergio Alvarez Moya from Spain. However with the emphasis in this series firmly focused on increasing competitive opportunities for all, including the next generation, eyes will be firmly fixed on a number of stars in the making. At just 25 years of age Germany’s Guido Klatte Jr has already earned a place in his country’s first team, while the Italian selection includes current Olympic Youth Champion, 18-year-old Giacomo Casadei.
So tomorrow, Saturday, 24 April, the 11 countries that have elected to compete are Argentina, Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, the hosts from Italy, The Netherlands, Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland. And with individual riders from Belgium, Brazil, Ireland and Slovenia, the flags of 15 nations will be flying at CSIO3* Gorla.
It’s going to be a super start to the season, and you can watch all the action unfold at the Equieffe Equestrian Centre by following the livestream here, starting at 11.30 local time.
EEF is the European Equestrian Federation, a modern and progressive organisation that aims to provide leadership, education and development in equestrian sport across the continent of Europe while promoting the values of equestrianism and the safety and welfare of its human and equine athletes.
The 2021 Longines EEF series marks the beginning of a whole new era. So join us for the ride….it’s going to be great!!