Strong start for Switzerland in opening leg of Longines EEF Series

26. Apr 2024 / Category: Press Release

Gorla Swiss 2024 𝗙𝗶𝗹𝗶𝗽𝗽𝗼 𝗚𝗮𝗯𝘂𝘁𝘁𝗶

A thrilling jump-off with Germany led to Switzerland to claim the top spot at the first qualifying competition of the Longines EEF Series, once again hosted at the Italian venue of Gorla Minore. The United Arab Emirates produced a fantastic first-phase performance to finish in third whilst host nation Italy wound up in fourth place.

Three nations went into the second round on a team total of zero penalties. These were the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who with a young squad some might consider the underdogs, alongside showjumping powerhouses, Germany and Switzerland. Norway and host nation, Italy came forward on eight faults each.

The second round saw mixed fortunes for UAE with Omar Abdul Aziz Al Marzooqi having an unlucky rail on Enjoy de la Mure, a horse well-versed in the Series having campaigned last season for Spain. Salim Ahmed Al Suwaidi also rolled a pole with Foncetti VD Heffink, as did Abdullah Mohd Al Marri. However, Ali Hamad Al Kirbi and his experienced partner Jarlin de Torres jumped a super clear, putting his nine faults from the first round well behind him.

Switzerland gave a very solid performance in the first round with a team that included debutants Gilles Müller and Eva Gautschi who both posted clears alongside Dominik Fuhrer to take 0 faults through. In the second round Dominik Fuhrer and Gilles Müller, both riding 13 year old Dutch bred horses, produced effortless performances which set up their final rider, Barbara Schnieper, on her lovely Swiss bred mare Judy KM to try and take the win. Sadly with two rails down, Switzerland finished with 4 faults, and opened up the possibility of a jump-off.

Germany’s Marie Ligges lovely grey Ballerina NRW jumped a fabulous double clear as did Philip Rüping on Chatolinue PS. After his teammate Pia Reich had posted four penalties, Patrick Stühlmeyer also suffered an unlucky rail towards the end of the course, leaving the German nation level with Switzerland on 4 faults.

The jump off saw Germany’s Patrick Stuhlmeyer and Drako de Maugre go first, but an  early fence down and time of 37.93 seconds opened the door for Switzerland. Switzerland chose Barbara Schnieper and Judy K who are a notoriously quick pair and they were right to do so, finishing clear in a slightly slower time of 38.71. Thus the victory was theirs.

Swiss chef d’equipe Peter van der Waaij said; “We had a very interesting team with two riders making their debut, Gilles Müller and Eva Gautschi. They both did very well, Gilles with a double clear and Eva also with a clear so we’re very happy with that. You can never expect a victory, but we always go for a victory and we had a very good team, good horses who jumped a lot of clears so we knew we had a good chance for the podium, but to win is always special.”

“This Series is very important for us. It gives us an opportunity to bring up new pairs, new riders, new horses. I think Nations Cups in general are very important for the sport, but also at this level it is very good to build people and horses up.”

“Next week we have Mannheim, so that’s a big goal with a different team, and hopefully we can go back to back!”

Debutant Gilles Müller added: “Of course it's really nice to start my senior Nations Cup like this, with a double clear. I had some experience from the juniors and young riders but to do it in the Seniors is so different. I’ve known my horse 8 or 9 years now, so I know her inside out, so doing it together with her is extra special I think”.

Faults were evenly spaced around the course in both rounds of this CSIO3* competition with a maximum height of 145cm, although several horses took exception to the wall. There were several perhaps surprising eliminations in the first round including for riders from Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria and Ukraine. The Belgians proved that “anything can happen” in equestrian sport. An impressive team on paper, they saw two eliminations in the first round with accumulated refusals from Celine Schoonbroodt-de-Azevedo and a fall from Andreas Vereecke, while Thibault Philippaerts re-entered round 2 individually and completed a double clear to offer a little respite. The Bulgarian team was eliminated when two of their three riders were eliminated.

Course builder Elio Travagliati was happy with the days' sport. “Today was very interesting, because it was the first leg of the Series, and the riders are jumping maybe their first Nations Cup this season. The first part of the course was a little soft, good approach for the riders and after number 5 it became more difficult. The end result was good, the horses jumped well and we had two teams for a jump off which is a very good result”.

The Series offers two qualifiers for each of the four regions- South, North, Central and West, with the semi finals held in Budapest (HUN) and Deauville (FRA) and the final held in the Polish capital Warsaw on 8 September. The Series will now continue to Mannheim in Germany, which runs from 1-7 May.


Eleanor Kelly.