Team Sweden soared to victory at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Sweden 2019 in Falsterbo (SWE) this afternoon, but it took a nail-biting last-to-go run from home heroes Peder Fredricson (47) and H&M All In to clinch it. Leading on a zero score at the halfway stage, the hosts looked set to stroll into pole position, but some second-round errors allowed Switzerland to chase them right to the line.
In the end just a single time-fault separated the two sides, the winners posting a final score of four faults ahead of the Swiss with just five. The hugely popular annual fixture at Falsterbo always has a really fun atmosphere, with the knowledgeable crowd loudly supporting every horse-and-rider combination as they enter the arena. But they exploded with extra delight when the coveted trophy remained at home for the first time since 2012.
Fredricson had the maximum weight of expectancy on his shoulders as he set off in the second round with the result hanging precariously in the balance. A fence down would hand it to the Swiss, and even a single time fault would mean a jump-off against them.
“It’s always much nicer afterwards than before - there’s a lot of pressure because you want to do well at home because you know the feeling is very nice and you don’t want to miss it!” said the reigning individual European champion.
He had anchored his country on a zero score at the end of round one which began with a copybook clear from team-mate Malin Baryard-Johnsson (43) and H&M Indiana who were first to take on Frank Rothenberger’s 12-fence track. Asked if she had any concerns about being competition pathfinder, the four-time Olympian said “the good thing about going first is that you walk the course, you make a plan, and you can’t watch anyone else doing different things because you don’t have time!”.
Fredrik Jonsson (46) and Cold Play were next of the host contingent, faulting only at the penultimate oxer. But when Stephanie Holmen (28) and Flip’s Little Sparrow were clear, and Fredricson then followed suit, the Swedes strode into the second round at the head of the leaderboard chased by France and Switzerland carrying five faults apiece, Italy with seven, and USA with eight on the board.
The French faltered with nine to add second time out, but Baryard-Johnsson was clear again so things were still looking good for the Swedes before Jonsson hit the vertical at fence four on the turn to the open water and Holmen racked up 12 faults to change the situation dramatically. Because super-smooth clears from Beat Mandli (Dsarie), Niklaus Rutschi (Cardano CH) and Paul Estermann (Lord Pepsi) ensured the Swiss would have nothing to add, leaving anchorman and World No. 1 Steve Guerdat sitting idle on the sidelines in the closing stages. It all came down to Fredricson’s final effort if the honours were to stay on home soil.
However when you’ve been to four Olympic Games, taking team silver in 2004 and individual silver in 2016 before scooping individual gold and team silver at the European championships in 2017, team silver at the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2018 and third place on the podium at the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final 2019 then you’ve clearly got what it takes. Fredricson stayed completely focused, and the brilliant H&M All In took it all in his stride to gallop through the finish and bring the home crowd to their feet.
“I wasn’t nervous before Malin went, but when she was double-clear then I knew we had a very good chance and I really wanted to do well. You could feel the tension in the team before the second round, I think that’s the same for every team riding at home because you really want to perform well, and today we did it, and it’s brilliant!” Fredricson said this evening.
Having recovered from the early bath he was given when thrown into the water-jump during some wild Swedish celebrations, Chef d’Equipe, Henrik Ankarcrona, expressed his sheer delight at today’s fantastic result. “I’ve had three unbelievable years as Chef - silver at Europeans and WEG, but this beats it all! To win at home, it’s a bucket-list thing for any team, to stand on the podium hearing the crowd cheer like you are rockstars! It will leave me with goose-pimples for a very long time …. I have the best job in the world!” he said.
His team still has work to do however as, with just two rounds remaining at Hickstead (GBR) in two weeks’ time and Dublin (IRL) in early August, they are lying joint-eighth alongside Ireland on the Europe Division 1 leaderboard from which only the top seven will qualify for the €2m Longines Final in Barcelona (ESP) in October.
Result: 1, Sweden 4 faults - H&M Indiana (Malin Baryard-Johnsson) 0/0, Cold Play (Frederik Jonsson) 4/4, Flip’s Little Sparrow (Stephanie Holmen) 0/12, H&M All In (Peder Fredricson) 0/0; 2, Switzerland 5 faults - Dsarie (Beat Mandli) 4/0, Cardano CH (Niklaus Rutschi) 1/0, Lord Pepsi (Paul Estermann) 0/0; Albfuehren’s Bianca (Steve Guerdat) 4/DNS; 3, Italy 9 faults - Tokyo du Soleil (Luca Marziani) 9/0, Elzas (Giulia Martinengo Marquet) 1/5, Ottava Meraviglia Di CA’ San G (Paolo Paini) 1/1, Tower Mouche (Bruno Chimirri) 5/1.
Full result here
Standings after Round 5 of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2019 Europe Division 1 series:
1. France - 320
2. Switzerland - 270
3. Belgium - 245
4. Netherlands - 200
5. Germany - 195
6. Austria - 190
7. Italy - 170
8. Ireland - 160
8. Sweden - 160
10. Great Britain - 120
Full standings here