World-class line-up for Longines League of Nations™ second leg in Ocala

Aaron Vale will be lining out again once again for Team USA at the second leg of the Longines League of Nations™ on home turf in Ocala (USA) in just over two weeks’ time. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

A star-studded cast of athletes will line up for round 2 of the inaugural Longines League of Nations ™ in Ocala, USA in two weeks. This will include 8 of the top 10 and 15 of the top 20 riders in the latest world ranking.

With the 2024 Paris looming, this leg will provide the teams with extreme testing of their horse and rider combinations whilst seriously competing for selection. The field will comprise top-class, world-ranking victors and promises to provide a spectacular celebration of equestrian sport.

This brand new, four leg series will see the top 10 ranked countries in the world competing and will culminate in the Longines League of Nations ™ 2024 final which is to be held in Barcelona in early October.

Germany took the early lead proudly claiming the maximum 100 points in Abu Dhabi (UAE) last month. Team Leader, Otto Becker, will send four members to the second leg. Two of the winning team, Christian Kukuk and David Will will be joined by Andre Theieme, the 2021 European individual gold and team silver medallist, and Richard Vogel CIS5* Grand Prix in Wellington, Florida in February 2024.

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Team Ireland, top rankers as the series began, were just pipped to the post in the final stages at Abu Dhabi. However, the team is in high spirits after a very impressive Nations Cup win in Wellington last Sunday. Michael Blake has nominated two riders from that winning side Cian O’Connor, Olympic gold medallist and world no 16 Darragh Kenny. They will be joined in Ocala by world no 14 Daniel Coyle who has been highly successful in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ circuit and Irish Olympic athlete Bertram Allen. Undoubtedly, all four riders will have Paris very much at the forefront of their minds and will do their utmost to impress.

Finishing third in Abu Dhabi were Sweden with world No 1 Henrik von Eckermann who finished with one of just four double-clear rounds. Henrik will compete again with four time Olympian and 2017 European Champion Peder Fredricson, Amanda Landeblad who finished 3rd in the King George V Gold Cup at Hickstead last year and, finally, upcoming athlete and young horse specialist Petronella Andersson.

The Swiss team will send Steve Guerdat reigning European Champion, world No 3 and individual Olympic Gold medallist, Martin Fuchs world No 6 and former European and World Cup title-holder Martin Fuchs, Jankia Sprunger who produced a double-clear performance in the first leg and

Team GB are sending out some of their finest with reigning Olympic Champion and world No 2, Ben Maher, Tokyo Olympian and world no 13 and Harry Charles. Chef d’Equipe Di Lampard will also send Tim Gredley and Jessica Mendoza in an attempt to advance on their 7th place finish in leg one.

Robert Ridland, team leader for America has chosen a heavyweight crew for this next leg on home ground. Laura Kraut, McLain Ward and Kent Farrington have collected numerous Olympic medals between them during their amazing careers, and the fourth team member, Aaron Vale has enjoyed a amazing run at Ocala over the past month and who had a positive run at Abu Dhabi.

Brazil, who ranked 5th at Abu Dhabi, will be making two changes sending Yuri Mansur and Marlon Zanotelli this time joined by 2004 Olympic champion and three-time FEI World Cup™ title-holder Rodrigo Pessoa and double-Olympian Cassio Rivetti. 

Jos Lansink of the Netherlands will be bringing his ‘heavy hitters’ Harrie Smolders, Willem Greve and Maikel van der Vleuten. Jur Vrieling is the only remaining member of the Dutch side that lined out in the first leg and the team will definitely want to remedy the situation this time around.

Team France also missed out in the first leg but Henk Nooren will be sending out Olivier Perreau, Olivier Robert and Kevin Staut, with Simon Delestre also being called up for the American fixture. With the Olympic Games only 4 months away and on their own turf, the French will certainly hope for an improved result when they travel to the United States.

Finally, Belgium will be determined to improve on finishing last place in Abu Dhabi after they were hampered by elimination for their team pathfinder, coming in with16 first round faults. The French also had 16 faults, however, with quicker combined times they managed to nudge Belgium to the bottom place. Belgium Chef d’Equipe Peter Wineberg is calling on Niels Bruynseels, Pieyer Devos and Nicola Phillipaerts in an attempt at improvement at Ocala.

The Grand Prix will take place on Thursday, 21 March at 19:00 hrs local time (00:00 GMT Friday, 22 March) whilst the Nations Cup competition takes place on Saturday, 23 March at 16:30 hrs local time (21:30 GMT).

For further information on the Longines League of Nations Second Leg visit the official website.

Feature image: Aaron Vale will be lining out again once again for Team USA at the second leg of the Longines League of Nations™ on home turf in Ocala (USA) in just over two weeks’ time. (FEI/Liz Gregg)


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