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From left: David Will, Christian Ahlmann, Otto Becker, Jorne Sprehe and Christian Kukuk. Image Credit: Source: FEI/Martin Dokoupil

Abu Dhabi: Team Germany made history when becoming the very first winners of the brand new Longines League of Nations series in a thrilling opening leg at the Al Forsan International Sports Resort in Abu Dhabi, finishing ahead of Ireland, who finished second, and Sweden third.

Christian Kukuk, partnering Mumbai, Jorne Sprehe with Sprehe Hot Easy, David Will and My Prins van Dorperheide and Christian Ahlmann with Blueberry posted a final score of eight faults, overtaking the leading Irish, who had to settle for runners-up spot when completing on a total of 12.

Edge-of-the-seat contests

The 11-team startlist was reduced to eight for the second round. With only three of the four team-members lining out this time, the pressure was at boiling point as all three scores were counted. Brazil slotted into fourth place at the end of the day ahead of Switzerland, USA, Great Britain and the UAE, the latter filling eighth place but not eligible for points. The Netherlands, France and Belgium didn’t make the cut into round two.

Hussam Zummit, Head of the Showjumping Department at the UAE Equestrian and Racing Federation, congratulated the German team’s victory, while Mohammed Al Nakhi, Director of the Showjumping Committee, added: “I think the new format worked really well, and kept us all on the edge of our seats until the very end. We’re looking forward to working with the FEI again for the 2025 series and will be back bigger and better.”

France take top two spots

The four-leg Longines League of Nations is open to the best ten teams in the world and now moves on to Ocala (USA) in March while St Gallen (Switzerland) and Rotterdam (Netherlands) will play host in June. The series will conclude with the big Final in Barcelona in October where the best eight teams will battle it out for the inaugural title.

Earlier, on the final day of the President of the UAE Showjumping Cup, France took the top two places in the CSIO5* Al Shira’aa Challenge, with Kevin Staut and Visconti du Telman heading the field in this 1.50-metre class. From the 42 starters, 11 riders went through to the jump-off, but Staut took the lead midway through and was too quick to catch, breaking the beam on 40.76s. Fellow Frenchman Roger Yves Bost and Ever de Turan, a 10-year-old bay mare by Kannan, jumped into second place in 42.89s, while Brazilian rider Luciana Diniz came in third with Clair de Lune 11 in 43.34s.