By Celeste Wilkins, in Barcelona

Friday at the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Final decided which teams would progress into the final on Sunday. The course set by Spain’s Santiago Varelo Ullastres was a challenge designed to test rider accuracy and horse scope. Many fences on the course were set to the maximum of 1.60m, with the penultimate Furusiyya oxer set at 1.70m. There were several related distances with an option of strides, requiring riders to be decisive. The time was also very tight at 81 seconds, with many top riders having one or several time faults as a result.

While Ullastres had anticipated that the line comprising an oxer at number 5 to the open water, then an oxer-vertical double combination would cause problems, it was the line from fence 10 to the triple combination that caused the most faults. Many riders faulted at the red and white vertical-oxer-vertical one stride combination including Qatar’s Bassem Mohammed and Saudi Arabia’s HH Prince Faisal Al Shalan.

Problems for HH Prince Faisal occurred in the related distance from 8 to 9 and then again in the combination at 11b. "The main issue with [Talan] is that he has a big stride and he’s a bit strong in the mouth", HH Prince Faisal said of his experienced 13 year-old gelding by Concorde.

Another Saudi rider with problems in the triple combination at fences 11a, b and c was Kamal Bahamdan who rode Noblesse de Tess. “Coming into the combination, there was a communication issue between Tess and I and it cost us". The Saudi rider finished on 17 faults, but is optimistic for the Consolation Final tomorrow where he will be joined by Ramzy Al Duhami on Al Capone, HRH Prince Abdullah bin Miteb on Davos and HH Prince Faisal Al Shalan on Talan. HRH Prince Abdullah bin Miteb and Davos were the most successful Saudi pair today, finishing on just four faults. The Saudi team finished in 14th place, on a score of 35 faults.

The Qatari team, comprised of Sheikh Ali bin Khaled Al Thani and Cantaro, Mubarak Al Rumaihi on Castiglione L, Bassem Mohammed on Rosalia La Silla and Ali Al Rumaihi on Ravena 323, finished on a score of 39, in 16th place. Sheikh Ali and Cantaro followed the trend of faulting at the triple combination, having fence 11a down, proving how the related distances increased the difficulty of the course exponentially. Ali Al Rumaihi and Ravenna 323 faced elimination following two refusals in the middle part of the course.

The Consolation Final on Saturday will see the ten teams not qualified for Sunday’s Final go head-to-head for prize money and HH Prince Faisal comments to that with: “Better than Aachen, eve"! Despite fairly disappointing rounds from the Saudi and Qatari riders, they will start on a clean slate and ride for 300,000 Euros against the United States, Colombia, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Australia and Japan.

See full results here:

All photos copyright: Celeste Wilkins and HT


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