Meydan FEI Nations Cup 2010 – Preview Round 7, Hickstead

THE HEAT IS ON AT HICKSTEAD

Hickstead (GBR), 27 July 2010 – The pressure is intense ahead of this Friday’s seventh leg of the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup series in Hickstead.  The Sussex venue has staged the British Nations Cup since taking on the mantle of the Royal International Horse Show in 1992, but the atmosphere is expected to be more highly-charged than ever before as the top show jumping nations in the world battle it out for the right to remain amongst the elite in their sport.

This season’s Meydan FEI Nations Cup series has turned into an epic battle, because four of the 10 competing countries will be relegated to the Promotional League following the last leg in Dublin next week.  After six of the eight competitions have been completed it could hardly be a closer-fought affair, and this Friday’s penultimate clash will be pivotal in deciding who stays in and who goes out.  One country that is definitely destined to say farewell to superleague jumping in 2011 however is Poland.  With no points accumulated after six courageous competitive efforts, and now unable to field a team, they have withdrawn from both Hickstead and the final leg in Dublin.

UNASSAILABLE
The French are unassailable at the head of the leaderboard and the USA looks secure in second place but, in the strangest twist, the next three countries – Ireland, Great Britain and Germany – all share the same score and are only 7 points ahead of Spain in sixth place.   If any of those teams should slip up now in the closing stages, then they could be overtaken by The Netherlands, Switzerland or Sweden and could find themselves facing life in the Promotional League next season.  For this to happen the Dutch, Swiss or Swedes need a lot of luck and some sensational performances, but in this unpredictable sport surprises are always just over that next jump or around that next corner…

The home team from Great Britain has a tremendous record as winners on their home turf, but it is Germany that returns to defend the title this week.  The Germans beat the French in a two-way jump-off against the clock last July when Janne-Fredericke Meyer was the heroine of the day, producing the only double-clear of the competition before going clear once again in the jump-off to make it a back-to-back double for her country which clinched the Prince of Wales Cup for the tenth time.  Meyer is not included in Otto Becker’s German selection this time around however as the listed riders include Jorg Naeve, Philipp Weishaupt, Lars Nieberg, Daniel Deusser and Mario Stevens.

SELECT

George Morris’ US squad includes Rich Fellers, Robert Kraut, Todd Minikus, Cara Raether and McLain Ward while Irish team manager Robert Splaine has made just a single change to the side that scored an emphatic and historic win at Aachen two weeks ago.  Cian O’Connor is on hold for next week’s Dublin event so US-based Shane Sweetnam, who has been campaigning the European circuit this summer and who lined out earlier in the season, has been called back into action alongside Shane Breen, Dermott Lennon, Billy Twomey and Denis Lynch.

Spain’s Marco Fuste will choose from his five-man squad that includes Manuel Anon Suarez, Sergio Alvarez Moya, Julio Arias Cueva, Pascal Levy and Fernando Fourcadez Lopez while Rob Ehrens has Marc Houtzager, Harrie Smolders, Gerco Schroder, Nathalie Van der Mie and Jur Vrieling in his Dutch selection.  Meanwhile Swedish Chef d’Equipe, Gosta Asker, will be hoping that Rolf-Goran Bengtsson, Peder Fredricsson, Malin Baryard-Johnsson, Svante Johannson and Henrik Van Eckerman can produce the kind of sparkle that won their home leg of the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup series.

The draw for the seventh leg of the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup will take place on Thursday, and you can watch all the action live on FEI TV on Friday afternoon, beginning at 13.45 local time.

For further information on the British fixture at Hickstead go to website www.hickstead.co.uk.

Facts and Figures
Hickstead presents the seventh leg of the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup series.
The defending champions are the German team who won in both 2008 and 2009.
Due to the withdrawal of the Polish team from the last two legs of the series at Hickstead and Dublin, just nine teams will line out in Friday’s competition.
The trophy awarded to the winners at Hickstead is the Prince of Wales Cup.
Germany has won the British Nations Cup on 10 occasions, but the home team has taken the honours 34 times.

2010 MEYDAN FEI NATIONS CUP – STANDINGS AFTER ROUND 6 AT AACHEN:

1.    France        –    43.5
2.    USA            –    31.5
3.    Ireland        –    28.5
4.    Great Britain    –    28.5
5.    Germany        –    28.5
6.    Spain        –    21.5
7.    Netherlands    –    17.0
8.    Switzerland    –    15.0
9.    Sweden        –    14.0
10.    Poland        –     0

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.

Media Contacts:
Hickstead Press Officer, Peter Jeffery
Tel: +44 1273 834175
Email: jeffery.communications@btopenworld.com

Grania Willis
FEI Director Press Relations
Tel: +41 787 506 142
Email: grania.willis@fei.org

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