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Topsport: Het begin van het Nations Cup seizoen met Talent Jules van Hoydonck (ENG)

30-03-2023 · FEI · FEI

Looking ahead to the FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Youth series...

The next generation of Jumping stars are all set for the new season of the exciting FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Youth, with the first European leg taking place in Belgium this week.

Teams from across the continent will gather at Opglabbeek to compete, improve and forge new friendships with talents from their own countries and elsewhere.

There will be 10 rounds in Europe before the qualifiers return to Opglabbeek for the final in September. The competitions include Children’s (12-14), Ponies (12-16), Juniors (14-18), and Young Riders (16-21).

Belgium, the hosts in Opglabbeek (March 29 - April 2), are the defending champions in the Young Riders category, having taken top spot in the Peelbergen final in 2022 ahead of Germany and Switzerland.

Part of the victorious Belgian team over that weekend was Jules van Hoydonck, who will also be on the start list for this season’s opener.

Career Highlight

Jules, 20, lives in Merksplas, near Antwerp and has been a rider at Stal Optimus since leaving school two years ago. He helped Belgium throughout the 2022 campaign and cannot wait to get back in his nation’s colours.

He said: “Winning all three Nations Cup events with my horse Minte vd bisschop last year was for sure a big highlight of my career so far. That’s especially because I have been with Minte for five years and have built her up from 120 classes when she was six years old.

“I rode the Nations Cups in Fontainebleau and Zuidwolde and won both with two amazing teams, so I was really happy that I was selected for the final in Peelbergen and motivated to repeat the previous success.”

Belgium made a great start in the 2022 final with three clear rounds on the first day, but Jules and Sacha Beghuin each had an unlucky down in the first round of the final. They knew they would have to be at their best in a jump off with Germany if they were to secure gold.

Sure enough, strong performances from the first three – including Jules – meant they were the champions without anchor Roy van Beek even having to set out!

Jules said: “This was an incredible feeling to win with such an amazing team of friends. After that we went to a party in Lanaken at the championships for young horses to celebrate with a big part of our team.”

Pressure on your Shoulders

Jules can’t wait to represent his country once more, and believes the FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Youth is an important rite of passage for ambitious young equestrian talents.

He said: “It’s nice to ride for a team because you support each other and motivate everyone to try to get the best result possible. There is always a little more stress in a Nations Cup because you really want to do the best for the team, but this teaches you to ride with pressure on your shoulders when you are young.

“What’s also nice is that you get ranking points when you ride clear rounds, and with that you got the chance to ride at bigger shows which is also good for the development of your career.”

Looking Ahead

Jules is confident at the start of the season, and believes Belgium have a strong team for their home leg with Tristan Guisson, Alexander Housen, Mathieu Bourdeaud'hui plus Aurelia Guisson also selected.

He said: “I’m really looking forward to the Nations Cup in Opglabbeek. We had our first outdoor show recently in Lier and had great rounds so hopefully we can keep this form up. It’s our home Nations Cup so we start with a strong team.

“For the rest of the year, I hope I can finish my last season as a young rider with good results at the Belgian championships and some 3* and 4* shows. We have a lot of strong Belgian young riders but I will try my best to qualify for the European Championships in Gorla Minore.”

After Opglabbeek, the series continues in Gorla Minore in Italy (Apr 5-9), before heading to Zduchovice (CZE), Compiegne (FRA), Lamprechthausen (AUT), Samorin (SVK), Drammen (NOR), Zuidwolde (NED), Hagen (GER) and Dielsdorf-Zurich (SUI). The final, also in Opglabbeek, takes place in September. 

Watch live coverage of the FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Youth series on the FEI’s YouTube channel…