Longines EEF Series Newsroom

No rain on Spain as Olympic hopefuls dominate Deauville
June 21, 2024

Report: Eleanore Kelly
Images: Pixelsevents/GRANDPRIX

It was a sunny day all round for Team Spain who rode to victory in the Longines EEF Semi-Final. Displaying masterful riding the Spanish quartet were decisive winners as the only team to finish on zero faults, as the popular French venue was basked in glorious sunshine throughout. The British team were chasing at Spanish heels throughout but had to settle with four penalties overall, whilst Ireland took third on five penalties.

Spain had selected a strong and more mature squad including national star Sergio Alvarez Moya. They all displayed some masterful riding throughout. Both 41 year old Mariano Martinez Bastia on Belano vd Wijnhoeve Z (sired by Berlin) and 51 year old Iván Serrano Sáez on Rain Man (by Chacco-Blue) finished without any faults over two rounds; as did British riders Jodie Hall McAteer on Hardessa (also by Berlin) and Robert Murphy on Kannem J.A. Z.

Team rider Imma Roquet Antonell summed up how the course rode and what it meant for the Spanish. “The truth is that the whole team is very happy. We came with many ambitions, we had a good team, but hey, we always want to win in the end, right? It is the best thing that can happen to you. It was a very big course. It required a lot of concentration; it required that the horses be well adjusted because all the fences had something. I think the course designer has done a wonderful job.  And well, we came here with the desire to win here, the desire to qualify for the final, but I suppose also with the Olympic Games in mind. Yes, we have some team members who have aspirations to go to the Olympic Games. Here it will be like the last, or one of the last opportunities they had to jump and do well.”

Speaking after the prize giving Carlos López Quesada, the Spanish Chef d’Equipe was equally delighted with the result and qualification. Which will also provide some indication to selectors as to which riders may be in contention for the Paris Olympics.

“It really is a magnificent contest, the double contest we have been coming for three years. In the first year we were second, last year fourth and today after a long wait (a win). These courses we have a lot of respect, a lot of love, it is a special place to win. We have taken several horses that can be in the Olympic Games and we are still in the process of (selection) but I believe that God willing we will have it shortly. We are very happy about that and at least everyone has had good results today.”

He also praised everyone involved in the team and the Organisers of the competition. “We’re very happy for the owners for the grooms and for whole team that works a lot to achieve. I would like to give the thanks to the organisers, who are magnificent, and above all to the rest of the teams that have competed, we are very proud to be part of it. The Olympic Games are goal number one, but also that the final of this circuit is also worth it.”

Mariano Martínez Bastidais is a rider who has always done well at this venue and is another aiming for a team place in Paris “Yes, some horses are here to prepare for the Olympic Games. Even mine I can say that he is there to maybe be able to be in the Olympics. The truth is that it is a track that is good for me and the horse and is in good shape. We are working all year round and being able to win in France is good.”

The format of this CSI3* competition is two rounds against the clock with a jump-off for leading teams who finish on equal scores. The 1m50 track was designed by Yann Royant and saw jumping penalties peppered throughout both rounds but both the combinations towards the end of the cause, proved demanding for a number of riders.

10 teams came forward for the first of two semi-finals, with five teams going forward to the Final which will be held in Warsaw, Poland on 8th September. It was a tight finish for the remaining qualifying places with Sweden, Denmark, France and Poland all finished with 16 faults and it was left to time to separate them, causing France and Poland to miss out on qualification by mere milliseconds.

Sweden and Denmark will join Spain, Great Britain and Ireland at the Final in September. The second of the two Longines EEF Series Semi-Finals will take place in Budapest (Hungary) on 12th July to decide the remaining 5 finalists