The split of European countries which will vie for the 2014 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping title has been decided, with the series already under way in the Middle East.
There will be 20 qualifying events around the globe, and with Ukraine winning at Al Ain (UAE), in the single qualifying event for the Middle East region. Qatar and Saudi Arabia finished second and third and have qualified for the final.
The allocation of teams to Europe Division 1 and Europe Division 2 events has been confirmed, and the FEI has released a list of the venues where eligible teams will be chasing Nations Cup points. The starting field at these events will not be restricted to those countries alone; other nations can also compete in legs of the Furusiyya series throughout both the Europe Division 1 and Europe Division 2 seasons.
Europe Division 1
In Europe Division 1, 10 nations will be chasing points and each team must compete at four events to be eligible for the final in Barcelona, Spain, from 9 to 12 October. There are eight legs in this division, and five nations will be chasing points at each one.
France, defending champions after their superb victory at the inaugural final last September, will be joined by Belgium, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland at the opening leg of Europe Division 1 at Lummen (BEL) on Friday 2 May. And the French will be back in action on home ground at La Baule (FRA) two weeks later where they will be joined by Belgium, Ireland, Switzerland and Spain on Friday 16 May.
The French will also line out at the third leg at the Piazza di Siena in Rome (ITA) the following week where the British, Dutch, German and Ukrainian teams will make their season debut on Friday 23 May.
At St Gallen (SUI), the host nation will battle it out with Belgium, Spain, Sweden and Ukraine on Friday 30 May, and then the French return to the fray for the last time in Rotterdam (NED) on Friday 20 June along with the Irish, Swiss, Dutch and Germans.
With just three legs left to go, the Swedish team will play host at Falsterbo (SWE) where Great Britain, The Netherlands, Spain and Ukraine will also be in action. And the British will be joined by Belgium, Germany, Ireland and The Netherlands on home turf at Hickstead (GBR) on Friday 1 August.
The last qualifying leg will see the Irish take on Germany, Great Britain, Sweden and Ukraine just one week later in Dublin, on Friday 8 August and at the end of this qualifying round the top seven teams from Europe Division 1 will be eligible to compete in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup 2014 Final.
Europe Division 2
A total of 15 nations will be in the hunt for points during the eight legs of Europe Division 2 which kicks off at Linz (AUT) on Friday 9 May where the host country will take on Italy, Finland, Poland, Croatia, Hungary, Russia and Slovakia. Just three teams will fight it out the following week at Copenhagen (DEN) where the Danes will be challenged by Norway and Poland on home ground on Friday 16 May while at Lisbon (POR) on Friday 30 May the Portuguese have only the Italians to contend with.
A total of eight countries – Norway, Denmark, Finland, Czech Repubic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Turkey – will line out at Sopot (POL) for a big clash on Friday 6 June. And there will be nine nations in contention for those coveted points at Budapest (HUN) on Friday 4 July, the Hungarian side facing fierce opposition from Austria, Norway, Denmark, Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Slovakia and Turkey.
Austria, Italy, Norway and Portugal will all travel to Gijon (ESP) on 1 August while the battle will be at fever pitch by the time eight nations line out at the penultimate qualifier in Bratislava (SVK) the following week, on Friday, 8 August. Austria, Finland, Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Turkey and the home side from Slovakia will all be trying to capture those elusive points here.
And then it is on the to the last leg of Europe Division 2 at Arezzo in Italy for the CSIO of San Marino on Friday 19 September where eight teams will line out for one final clash. Each country can compete at only four of the eight events, but Slovenia has elected to line out just once at this last qualifying leg alongside Italy, Finland, Denmark, Poland, Croatia, Greece and Turkey.
Just two teams from European Division 2 will qualify for the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup 2014 Final.
The next leg of the series will take place in Wellington, Florida (USA) on Friday 28 February. This is the first of three competitions in the North America, Central America and Caribbean region.