Top league of Nations Cup celebrates nine years

October 1, 2011

by Louise Parkes

From the moment the concept of a Top League Nations Cup series was first devised by the FEI at the start of the new millennium, it grabbed the imagination and enthusiastic support of all those involved in the sport of jumping.


Marcus Ehning and Plot Blue. © FEI/Kit Houghton
And now, nine years on, and having returned to its original eight-leg, eight-nation format, some new statistics tell the story of the contribution of individual riders to one of the biggest success-stories in the history of equestrian sport - the FEI Nations Cup.

Since the inaugural Samsung Super League season got under way in 2003, a total of 13 nations - Great Britain, Germany, USA, Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland, The Netherlands, France, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Denmark and Poland - have battled it out for the coveted title that sets the best jumping nation apart from the rest. Germany holds the record for most wins, with four over the eight-year period including the 2011 title which they secured at the final leg of this year's series in Rotterdam last month.

It comes as no surprise then, that German riders dominate the statistical table for Riders with Most Wins between 2003 and 2011. This is headed up by Marco Kutscher who has been on 12 victorious teams. From 25 starts, he produced 10 clear rounds and 4 double-clears and he has therefore made an exceptional contribution to his country's success-rate. Next in line is fellow-countryman Ludger Beerbaum with 11 wins from 26 starts, while Marcus Ehning lies third on this table with 10 wins from 30 starts and Christian Ahlmann is in fourth with nine.

The first non-German rider to feature on this listing is Great Britain's Michael Whitaker, who helped secure eight wins with 15 single clear rounds and two double-clear performances during a massive 37 appearances. But it is his team-mate, Nick Skelton, who shares the honours at the top of the listing for Riders with Most Starts.

Skelton shares the limelight here with Laura Kraut of the US, because they each lined out in 38 competitions, and both have been on six winning teams. Kraut had a larger number of individual clear rounds with a total of 18 along with two double-clears, but while Skelton jumped one clear round on 12 occasions, he shares the record for the greatest number of double-clears along with Christian Ahlmann - 7 in total. And the German rider's record is particularly remarkable when you take into account that he only started in 16 competitions while helping secure those aforementioned nine wins for his country.

Michael Whitaker lies third on the "Most Starts" table ahead of Cian O'Connor who has been a stalwart of the Irish side, having lined out at 36 events and contributing to four wins with 12 individual clear rounds and four double-clears. In fifth place on this table is Belgium's Jos Lansink with 35 starts, 15 single-round clears and five double-clears but no wins while another Irishman, Billy Twomey, lies sixth with 34 starts, 13 one-round clears, three double-clears and five winning results to his credit.

Looking at the 2011 season, the rider on the biggest number of winning teams was The Netherlands' Eric Van der Vleuten. The Dutch had a strong run with three victories over the summer months and looked set to take the series title until overtaken in the closing stages by Germany. Van der Vleuten started at five events, and three of these were winning ones during which he contributed two single clear rounds along with one double-clear. Germany's Ludger Beerbaum, Carsten-Otto Nagel, Marco Kutscher and Thomas Voss, and Dutch riders Jur Vrieling, Jeroen Dubbeldam and Gerco Schroder all enjoyed double-victories.

But when it came to starts alone, then French rider Penelope Leprevost was in a league of her own. She competed at every one of the eight events throughout the season and, although the French rider never stood on top of the winner's podium, she contributed three clear rounds to their seasonal effort. Her fellow-countryman Kevin Staut turned out on seven occasions as did Belgium's Jos Lansink while Ireland's Billy Twomey, America's Christine McCrea, Denmark's Emilie Martinsen, Frenchman Michele Robert and Belgium's Philippe Le Jeune represented their countries at six legs of the tournament.