The Longines Masters of Hong Kong has just finished and the EEM World teams are already busy with the next stage of the Series: the Longines Masters of New York, from April 25 to 28, 2019, at the NYCB LIVE, Home of the Nassau Veterans Coliseum. The event will feature the two flagship events specific to the series: the Longines Speed Challenge and the Longines Grand Prix, but New York, like Paris, will also host a very special event.
This event is the Riders Masters Cup, a new intercontinental championship that has pitted the United States (Riders USA) against Europe (Riders Europe) since December 2017. The Longines Masters of New York will host the fourth edition of the Riders Masters Cup, which has been dominated by the Riders Europe team since its inception. The Riders USA team is determined to add a win to their record on April 27th at the NYCB LIVE, Home of the Nassau Veterans Coliseum. They will have the home team advantage in front of an audience that is committed to their mission. The crowd are more than just spectators, they are enthusiastic supporters in cheering on Riders USA. With world No. 2, McLain Ward, another top-10 rider in Beezie Madden, and a total of five riders in the top 25 entered from the U.S., it is obvious that for this fourth round, the reigning World Champions will have some serious artillery to combat the Riders Europe team.
The latter team keeps an essential asset: their team captain. Even though Switzerland’s Philippe Guerdat now serves as national chef d’équipe of Brazil instead of France, he remains captain of the Riders Europe team.
“At the launch of the Riders Masters Cup it was discussed that the role of team captain should be rotating, but Christophe Ameeuw asked me to remain and I will happily because, besides the fact that I appreciate Christophe and his efforts developing the sport, the challenge is interesting,” said Guerdat. “The concept is growing, even if it is still new and needing some improvements, but it is a competition that I believe in.”
And it is true that the champion Olympic coach played an essential role in the Riders Europe team’s first three victories, both in terms of his selections and the strategy deployed during the competition. This was particularly evident in New York last year, where the Riders Europe team dominated throughout the event, winning the match in the last duel in which Guerdat lined up Harrie Smolders and his fast Cas 2 against McLain Ward and HH Gigi’s Girl. The Riders USA team was still leading 7-6, but after Smolders’ lightning fast round, Riders Europe took over for the win with a final score of 8-7. Guerdat’s smart choice had paid off!
The Riders Master Cup Explained
In line with major global sporting challenges:
Launched in Paris in December 2017, the Riders Masters Cup has taken on a new dimension as a major intercontinental sporting challenge. Ultimately, the Riders Masters Cup is destined to become one of the greatest team battles between the continents such as the America’s Cup in sailing, the Ryder Cup in golf, or the Davis Cup and Fed Cup in tennis. Of course, for the time being, the Riders Masters Cup is still writing its history, but at the first three editions, the event fascinated audiences in Paris and New York.
The match between the two great world showjumping powers:
Whether you’re looking back at the past season or further back in this sport, Europe and the United States have won most of the major team titles: the Olympic Games, World Championships or Nations’ Cup finals. While the United States won the World Equestrian Games™ Tryon (USA) last year, the Old Continent immediately took its revenge in Barcelona at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final with a 100% European podium (Belgium, France and Ireland). The Riders Masters Cup, created in 2016 by EEM and EEF (the European Equestrian Federation), continues this relentless battle between the two equestrian powers.
The composition of the teams is entrusted to two title-holding team captains:
Robert Ridland serves as the current chef d’équipe of the Riders USA team and also was chef d’équipe of the US team that claimed gold at the 2018 WEG. For Europe, the chef d’équipe role has been entrusted to the head of the French gold medal team at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, who is now the Brazilian team coach, Guerdat. The World Champion coach against the Olympic Champion coach! Team captains announce their short lists about a month before the event, while the final team of five riders, including one under 25 years of age, will be announced the day before the event. But the role of team captain goes far beyond selection alone. They also plan strategy, choosing the starting order of their riders. Then, depending on the results of the first round, the winning coach gets first choice of which rider he will line up against which opponent, and can even change his riders’ horses. They play a crucial role as strategist, which undoubtedly influences the result, as we saw in New York where the result depended on the very last match-up!
A very simple concept with simple rules:
A draw determines the composition of the first five duels. In the first round (Table A-against the clock), the winning competitor scores 10 points for his team, and the defeated competitor, if they have completed the course, will score five points. At the end of the first round, the team captains reset the duels, with the team temporarily in the lead getting the benefit of choosing first. In the second round (Table C-each fallen rail adds three seconds to the competitor’s time), the winners score 20 points, the losers 10. The scores are immediately obvious and displayed in real time on a lit scoreboard just like during a basketball or football game. For spectators it is easy to be in the game: they become team supporters, loudly encouraging their riders and waving their team flags. #WaveYourFlag