EFEBarcelona

Spain finished second here Friday in qualifying for the Jumping Nations Cup to set up a first-ever appearance in the final of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) event.

Joining Spain in Sunday's final at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona will be Germany, the Netherlands, Brazil, Sweden, the United States, Ireland and Belgium.

The night started badly for the Spaniards, as the team's first rider, Manuel Fernandez Saro with Jarlin de Torres, incurred in a water fault to finish with five penalty points.

"I didn't expect the knockdown in the water, I had never done it before, we jumped the rest very well, I felt very comfortable and I think he did too. It was the first time that the horse jumped at night, I don't know if that made it difficult for him to calculate well," Fernandez Saro told Efe afterward.

The course, designed by Santiago Valera, who was also the architect of the track at the Tokyo Olympic Games, proved complicated for both riders and horses.

Some of the top teams in the discipline, such as Great Britain, Belgium and Switzerland, were afflicted with knockdowns.

In the second round, Spain's Ismael Garcia Roque, riding the mare La Costa, made it around the course without a fault, but took longer than the permitted 80 seconds.

Eduardo Alvarez Aznar and Legend were likewise flawless except for exceeding 80 seconds.

Alvarez Aznar later expressed satisfaction with the performance, noting that Legend, a young horse, has had to face the Olympics, the European Championship and the Nations Cup in rapid succession.

It was left to the last rider, Sergio Alvarez Moya, to ensure Spain's berth in the final.

"He is capable of anything, he is used to coming out fourth, to coming out under pressure and most of the time he usually does well under that pressure," Alvarez Aznar said moments before Moya, riding with Alamo, rounded the course with just a single penalty point and put Spain in the final eight.

The seven remaining teams: Great Britain, Italy, France, Canada, Uzbekistan, Switzerland and Norway, will battle on Saturday for the Challenge Cup.

Norway ended the qualifier level on points with Belgium, but the Scandinavian side missed out due to time penalties. EFE

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