Barcelona, Oct 1 (EFE).- Mexico won against all odds the Jumping Challenge Cup, the consolation final of the Nations Cup being held in Barcelona this weekend, beating teams like Sweden, Norway and Brazil with an almost perfect performance.
Led by Manuel Gonzalez Dufrane and his horse ‘Hortensia Van de Leewerk’ and Fernando Martinez Sommer and the ‘High Five’, both with zero points, Mexico shut out their rivals by scoring only one penalty point.
Nicolas Pizarro riding ‘Oak Grove’s Enkidu’ scored that point because despite a ride with no knockdowns, he completed the circuit in more than the allotted 85 seconds. “I was a little slow from post 1 to 2 and I was never able to recover that time, but I didn’t change my plan,” he said at the press conference.
At his side, Gonzalez Dufrane was “very happy” for the team’s victory, saying that “riding with friends is the most incredible thing.”
Riding high after the win, the Mexican laughed as he admitted that his nickname has now changed from “the fish to the shark.”
Gonzalez Dufrane takes home 50,000 euros as the prize for the only participant to achieve two faultless rides in both rounds, in addition to sharing the 70,000 euros for first place with his teammates.
Mexico team manager, American Mark Laskin, acknowledged that he would have liked his riders to jump in Sunday’s final, “but this is a great consolation prize.” He praised the work of his team for improving on their results from the other day, “except for Manuel because it is difficult to improve on perfection.”
On Thursday, Mexico finished the qualifying round for the grand final in last position, so they were not among the favorites to dominate Saturday’s night session in the arena of the Real Club de Polo de Barcelona.
That was, on paper, for Brazil with one of the leading figures of the international circuit in their ranks, rider Marlon Modolo, who despite his “zero” with ‘Like a Diamond’ could only finish third in the team event.
Brazil was edged out by Sweden on the podium, a team who had also curiously finished last in the qualifying round of the Nations Cup.
The tournament, organized by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), is to finish Sunday with the grand final, with teams like Belgium, United Kingdom and Ireland vying for the title against favorites France, thanks to the good form of Julien Epaillard, the rider with the most victories of the season and winner of the 2022 Queen’s Cup. EFE