Semi-final shake up in Austria!

NL win

In a tense Longines EEF Series Semi-final in Ebreichsdorf, Austria, this afternoon, it was all to play for as 10 teams fought hard to secure their position at the Finals in Warsaw, which – after today’s results – will be missing some familiar faces this year. Amy Powell reports.

After an action-packed competition which saw teams battle it out until the very end, it was the Netherlands who came out on top this afternoon on a final score of 12 penalties, just one point ahead of an ecstatic Ukrainian team.

The up-to-height and technical 1.50m track designed by Austria’s Hubert Kuttelwascher and Gregor Gschlenk tested riders all the way round, with a tricky triple bar and upright plank combination leading to the Longines treble seeing to it that only four double clears were clocked after two rounds of competition.

After posting a first-round score of 4 penalties, the Dutch team of Henk Frederiks and Impian D, Vincent Dings on Cream Couleur Z, Mark Martens with Kinmar Quality Hero and Eric Ten Cate on Incredible were pushed by Ukraine every step of the way to take the Nations Cup win this afternoon. The pressure was on final rider Eric, who was clear until the very last, but taking the final fence down within the time was still enough to secure the win and their place at the Finals in Warsaw, Poland, in September. 

“It’s a beautiful venue, the footing is great and the jumps were brilliant. It’s very nice to be here and to win the Nations Cup is always brilliant,” said Henk of the team’s victory. “The course was a little more to jump than the qualifiers – this is the semi-finals and it showed. There were less double clears and there was a lot to jump over a tough but fair course, but I think the best team won!” He remarked with a smile.

The Ukrainian team of Alisa Danilova and Cossinelle, Mykola Pylypeiko on Karat, Oleksandr Proden with Moneymaker van’t Meulenhof and Anastasia Bondarieva riding Calder all put in an incredible performance in round one as Mykola, Oleksander and Anastasia each entered the arena and left all the fences standing, allowing the team to carry forward only Mykola’s 4 time faults into their second round. A single time fault from Oleksandr and a pole down each for teammates Alisa and Anastasia in round 2 gave the team a final score of 13 penalties to comfortably take second place ahead of Switzerland, sitting 3 points behind them in third.

The Ukrainians, and the Swiss team of Evelyn Bussmann on Tafila d’Urville, Dominik Fuhrer and Ghost, Peter Bleiker riding Babalou and Bryan Balsinger piloting AK’s Courage (one of the four double clears of the competition), can both breathe a sigh of relief and book their tickets to Poland along with today’s host nation, Austria, who put in a gritty performance to take fourth.

Finishing on the same final score of 16 as Switzerland, The Austrian team of Alessandra Reich and Oeli R, Marianne Schindele riding Acoustik Solo du Baloubet, Katharina Rhomberg on Cuma and Stefan Eder with Condaro were a mere 1.57 seconds slower, leaving them just off the podium. Katharina’s double clear helped significantly to secure the team’s fate, giving them some breathing room ahead of Slovakia who claimed the fifth and final qualifying spot with a final score of 18 penalties.

In a huge plot twist for the Longines EEF Series, the reigning two-time Series champions, Italy will not be heading to Poland to defend their title. After a great first round as the only team to finish on a clean sheet, the second round sadly unravelled for the Italians. Finishing on a final score of 20 penalties left them in 6th place and was not quite enough to see them through to the Finals.

An equally surprising omission from the list of Finalists is Germany, who just did not have the best of days in the arena this afternoon. A first round score of 16 faults for the team gave them a lot to do in order to climb the leaderboard, but after Harm and Oak Grove’s Commander Bond tripped and fell after the finish line in round one, only three riders came forwards for the second. Although Michael Kolz and Johannes Ehning both managed to score vital clear rounds for the team with their mounts, Cellato and Classic Donna, Sophie Hinner’s big-jumping but inexperienced 9-year-old, Grode Deern, had three unfortunate poles down to push the team down the rankings and finish on a final score of 28.

With both Semi-finals of the Longines EEF Series now complete, we have a full list of 10 nations who have battled incredibly hard over 9 legs of competition to come together in the Finals for the in Warsaw later this year. Joining the NetherlandsUkraineSwitzerlandAustria and Slovakia, from the North and West Regions will be FranceBelgiumSwedenSpain and Poland.

Results: Longines Timing