FRENCH TO THE FORE AS THE LAST LEG GETS UNDERWAY
Dublin (IRL), 5 August 2010 – The French, who cannot be beaten for the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup title, will be first into the ring for the final leg of the series at the Royal Dublin Society Showgrounds in Dublin, Ireland tomorrow.
The draw took place this morning, and the order-of-go for the competition which begins at 2.55 pm local time is as follows:
1, France; 2, Great Britain; 3, Sweden; 4, USA; 5, Ireland; 6, Germany; 7, Netherlands; 8, Switzerland; 9, Spain.
With their last-to-go draw, the Spanish are in with a chance of holding on to their place in the series for 2011. Lying sixth on the leaderboard going into this final clash, the country which only joined the top-league series for the first time this year is in danger of being overtaken by The Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland who are all currently situation in the bottom-four relegation zone in the 10-nation series. A bad day for Spain tomorrow could prove very expensive, but team manager Marco Fuste is thinking positive. “We have our best team possible here – it’s tough, and we are going to have to fight hard tomorrow, but we are expecting a good result and I am very happy with our place in the draw,” he pointed out.
Sweden’s Gosta Asker was also in upbeat mood this morning. “We have had to change our team since Hickstead because Malin’s (Baryard-Johnsson) horse went lame there but we have won already this season and we know we need to win again tomorrow – so is the plan! We have the two young Zetterman boys on our team and I’m sure they will be giving it their very best,” he added.
Rob Ehrens from The Netherlands was less optimistic. “We have lost a lot of horses this season. We had several good young horses, but you can’t put them into every show if you want to keep them in good shape. It hasn’t been easy,” he explained. And Switzerland’s Rolf Grass was not holding out any great hopes for his side either. “We have not had enough horses to stay competitive in the series over the last three months. I’m afraid we are not strong enough,” said the man who, however, boasts the World No. 2 Pius Schwizer amongst his team.
Great Britain’s Rob Hoekstra had no complaints. His team’s superb victory on their home turf in Hickstead last Friday leaves them lying second to the leading French, and with no worries about next season. However Dublin’s Aga Khan Cup is one of the most coveted trophies on the international circuit. It has been hotly-contested since 1926 and Britain’s record of wins in the Dublin arena has been an impressive one. America’s George Morris has had to make some swift changes to his side since Hickstead also, but he is happy that his team will give a good account of themselves tomorrow. “We lost a couple of horses last weekend – it was totally unconnected to the footing at Hickstead, just bad luck – but fortunately Beezie (Madden) was in Holland so we could call her up and Laura Kraut was in England – she is competing here in Dublin as an individual. It has worked out fine,” he explained.
Germany’s Sonke Sonkssen is confident: “My four boys will do their very best,” he said, while the host nation’s Chef d’Equipe, Robert Splaine, is relieved that tomorrow his team can concentrate on winning the competition without having to worry about their place on the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup table. Lying fifth going into this last leg of the series the Irish are assured of a return to the top-league again next year. “That will be our whole focus tomorrow – winning the Aga Khan Cup. It means everything in the world to the Irish people, more even than the win in Aachen which was a very special moment for us. The Irish people deserve that we should go out there tomorrow and win this trophy for them, and if we don’t then it won’t be for lack of trying,” he pointed out.
The stadium is expected to be packed with almost 30,000 spectators as the closing contest of the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup series gets underway tomorrow afternoon. Show Director Pat Hanley said the Dublin organising committee has worked hard over the last 12 months to continue upgrading facilities at the historic showgrounds which is celebrating its 137th horse show. “We invested in a major upgrade for the warm-up ring and fence material and we are delighted to have Bob Ellis and a lot of the team who will be building the courses at the London Olympic Games here with us this week. I’d like to thank Meydan – we really appreciate their support and we all look forward to a great day’s sport tomorrow,” he concluded.
For further information on the last leg of the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup in Dublin go to website www.dublinhorseshow.com or contact Press Officer JP Montgomery at Email: email@example.com or Tel: +353 1 6680866.
2010 MEYDAN FEI NATIONS CUP – STANDINGS AFTER ROUND 7 AT HICKSTEAD:
1. France – 48.5
2. Great Britain – 38.5
3. USA – 37.5
4. Germany – 35.5
5. Ireland – 31.5
6. Spain – 23.0
7. Netherlands – 21.0
8. Sweden – 15.5
9. Switzerland – 15.0
10. Poland – 0
FACTS AND FIGURES
Tomorrow’s competition is the eighth and last leg of the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup series.
The Royal Dublin Society Showgrounds is celebrating its 137th horse show this year.
2012 Olympic Course designer Bob Ellis and Assistant Course Designer Alan Wade will be creating tomorrow’s challenge for the nine competing nations.
This series began as a 10-nation tournament, but Poland withdrew from the last tow legs of the series due to inability to field a team.
In the Dublin betting shops, the French are 2/1 favourites to win tomorrow’s competition.
French Chef d’Equipe Laurent Elias, when asked if his team will be competitive tomorrow despite the fact that they are already assured of the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup title: “Our position on the leaderboard makes no difference to us tomorrow – we have a really good team here and we will be going out there to win – nothing less than that will do,” he insisted.
Bob Ellis, course designer: “We have great teams with great horses – tomorrow’s competition will be difficult but not too difficult – I think we can expect great jumping and great sport.”
MEYDAN FEI NATIONS CUP
A Meydan FEI Nations Cup event is organised as a five-star Nations Cup, i.e. a competition in which official teams representing nations compare their merit. At each event the teams gain points according to their placing. At the end of the 2010 season the team with the highest points wins the Meydan FEI Nations Cup and the four teams with the lowest points are relegated to the FEI Nations Cup series (Promotional League). Two teams from the Promotional League will join the Top League in 2011.
The complete rules, latest news, results, standings and photos are on www.meydanfeinationscup.org.
The World’s Top 10 Teams: France, the USA, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, The Netherlands, Sweden, Great Britain, Spain and Poland.
The World’s Best Eight Venues:
La Baule (FRA), Friday 14 May; Rome (ITA), Friday 28 May; St. Gallen (SUI), Friday 4 June; Rotterdam (Ned), Friday 18 June; Falsterbo (SWE), Friday 9 July; Aachen (GER), Thursday 15 July; Hickstead (GBR), Friday 30 July; Dublin (IRL), Friday 6 August.
To learn more about the FEI go to www.fei.org.
To learn more about Meydan, the title sponsor of the Meydan FEI Nations Cup, go to www.meydan.ae.
Press Officer JP Montgomery
Tel: +353 1 6680866.
FEI Director Press Relations
Tel: +41 787 506 142