L to R: Frederic David, Philippe Rozier, Chef d’Equipe Philippe Guerdat, Adeline Hecart and Patrice Delaveau. (Martin Dokoupil/FEI)
Al Ain (UAE), 16 February 2017 – The 2016 Olympic champions from France continued to reign supreme when winning the opening leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2017 season at Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates. And it was an historic moment when, for the very first time, the host nation joined Qatar to qualify for the hugely popular series final in Barcelona (ESP) next September.
It was a close-fought battle for the top placings, with the runners-up from Qatar and the Italian side that eventually finished third chasing the French all the way to the line. Germany and Switzerland finished equal-fourth ahead of Ireland in sixth, UAE in seventh and the three-member British team in eighth place. A total of nine countries competed, but only Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia contested the two qualifying spots for the final on offer to teams from the Middle East, and the Saudi side lost out when finishing last in round one.
France, Italy and Qatar shared the lead with four faults apiece at the halfway stage. The winning Chef d’Equipe complimented course designer Bernardo Costa Cabral from Portugal afterwards. “He found a good balance. To have a competition with only three double clears and with teams being tied in first place for large parts of it means he did a great job!” said Philippe Guerdat.
The first of those double-clears came from his pathfinders, Philippe Rozier (54) and Rahotep de Toscane, who were in his Olympic team gold-medal-winning side in Rio de Janeiro (BRA) last summer. French chances were then further boosted by a clear from Abu Dhabi-based Frederic David (46) and Equador van’t Roosakker who faulted just once first time out, but it was anchorman Patrice Delaveau (52) who was the hero of the day when bringing Aquila HDC home with a double-clear to seal the result. Sheikh Ali Al Thani and First Devision, who placed sixth individually at the Rio Olympics, produced the third fault-free effort of the day to help secure second spot for Team Qatar who completed on eight faults ahead of Italy on 12.
Philippe Guerdat was also delighted with the performance of 21-year-old Adeline Hecart who overcame a refusal at the Longines triple combination first time out to complete with just four faults in round two, and success has fuelled the French team manager’s ambitions for the year. “It is a good sign winning here because, if last year is anything to go by, then we will be winning something big in 2017! The aims for this season are to stay in Europe Division 1 as well as to qualify for the final in Barcelona. We will try very hard to win at home in La Baule, but the focus now shifts to the Longines FEI World Cup Final in Omaha and we’ll start planning again after that!” he said.
Full result here
French Chef d’Equipe Philippe Guerdat: “This is a good place for us, a lucky event to come to. I came here as Chef d’Equipe for the first time three years ago and it’s brilliant. I keep coming with different teams and this is my second time winning with a varied line-up; the one rider who has been part of the three teams is Frederic David.”
Philippe Rozier FRA: “This is the first show outside for my horse this year and it was important for me. There was a lot of pressure for the Olympic Games and there is also pressure for the Nations Cups. After Al Ain my horse will not compete for three weeks, but then we jump in Paris Hermes and go to the new 5-Star show at Versailles which is just before La Baule.”
French Chef d’Equipe Philippe Guerdat, talking about team-member Adeline Hecart: “She has been with me two times now and it’s her second win. She’s a very talented young rider; it’s been a case of her being at the right place at the right time as well with the help of her teammates.”
Frederic David FRA: “I am based here in the UAE and I’m so happy to be part of the winning team again this year – as was the case in 2016. It’s my fourth time here. My horse was fresh for the first round but the second one proved to be a bit more challenging; we came through with it in the end which is the most important thing!”
French Chef d’Equipe Philippe Guerdat, talking about the FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping series and final: “It’s a dream for our riders to compete and win there. Last year we didn’t have the opportunity to clinch it unfortunately but there are a lot of great nations out there. We also to use these qualifiers to build a team for the European Championship.”
Adeline Hecart FRA: “It is great to be here as part of the winning team with all these experienced riders. I want to thank my team mates. It’s an amazing chance being part of such a set-up. It’s my second time competing in the Nations Cup and my second win (first being in Gijon)!
“Following the mistakes I did in the first round, I knew I had to do my best in order to rectify them, which is what I worked on. I often put too much pressure on myself which is why I make some of the mistakes I do. I really enjoy the winter here in the UAE; it’s always a good experience for me.”
Detailed standings here
Our signature hashtags are: #FEINationsCup, #SupportYourNation, #Jumping
Watch all the action LIVE: http://www.feitv.org/.
By Louise Parkes
At Al Ain:
Manager Press Relations
+41 78 750 61 46