FEI TV – Follow the fourth leg of the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup series in Rotterdam LIVE on FEI TV – www.feitv.org
CAN THE FRENCH MAKE IT A FABULOUS FOUR?
Rotterdam (NED), 15 June 2010 – As the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup series reaches the half-way stage at Rotterdam in The Netherlands this Friday, the big question on everyone’s lips is, “Can the runaway French be stopped in their tracks?” The defending series champions have a commanding advantage at the top of the 2010 leaderboard after their hat-trick of victories at La Baule (FRA), Rome (ITA) and St Gallen (SUI) over the last four weeks, and Chef d’Equipe Laurent Elias is taking no chances with another crack side for this latest fixture.
The French are also the defending champions at Rotterdam where Penelope Leprevost was the heroine in 2009 when clinching the honours in a thrilling third-round head-to-head against America’s McLain Ward. The lady from Normandy has firmly established herself as a linchpin of her national side since then, and is again selected for this week’s event alongside Kevin Staut, Patrice Deleveau, Michel Robert and Marie Etter Pellegrin.
Under the management of new Chef d’Equipe Rob Hoekstra the British have bounced back with renewed determination this season and are currently lying second on the series table, although a full 11.5 points behind the leaders. Peter Charles and Murka’s Pom d’Ami will be making their fourth consecutive appearance and are backed up by Scott Brash, David McPherson, Gemma Paternoster and the inimitable John Whitaker. Next in line are the Germans, runners-up last time out, fifth in St Gallen and joint-third at La Baule. Their big guns came out at the Swiss fixture but still could not contain the relentless French onslaught. However Ludger Beerbaum, Marcus Ehning, Janne-Friederike Meyer, Carsten-Otto Nagel and Mario Stevens will be hoping to put that to rights this time around.
The Irish are also coming out at full gallop, although Robert Splaine’s plans have had to be altered over the last few days. Jessica Kuerten had been listed with Castle Forbes Cosma, but the mare pulled a muscle while jumping in Cannes over the weekend and so has been replaced with Myrtille Paulois while anchorman Billy Twomey was forced to withdraw after his horse, Blue Thunder, tied up during exercise last Sunday. Army man Capt David O’Brien has stepped into the breach however and the line-up that also includes Shane Breen, Dermott Lennon and Denis Lynch still looks a strong one, and well capable of defending their fourth-place league position.
The newcomer Spanish are sitting comfortably in fifth place and look set to stay there with Pilar Cordon back in action this week alongside Sergio Alvarez Moya, Manuel Suarez, Jesus Echeverria and Marta Ortega Perez while George Morris fields a new-look American selection. Beezie Madden has two legs of the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup series under her belt but the remaining four – Lauren Hough, Candice King, Laura Kraut and Nicole Simpson – are all fresh faces. Lying sixth on the leaderboard going into this crucial stage, their mission will be to lift the USA further away from the all-too-dangerous bottom-four relegation zone at the end of Friday’s competition.
Surprisingly, the reigning European Champions from Switzerland have been down in that bottom-four group from the outset this season despite their very best efforts. They will be hoping their luck is about to change as Steve Guerdat, Werner Muff, Jane Richard and Pius Schwizer set off once again in search of those elusive points. It seems almost incredible that, in this toughest of seasons, they could find themselves demoted to the Promotional League for 2011, but this is the tremendous challenge of the 2010 series. A total of four teams will be relegated at season’s end, while just two will be upgraded from the Promotional League as the Meydan FEI Nations Cup returns to an eight-nation format next year.
Behind the Swiss lie the even-more-endangered Swedish team that has collected only two points from the first three legs of the series. Chef d’Equipe Gosta Asker has enlisted Olympic silver medallist Rolf-Goran Bengstsson this time around however, and supported by Erika Lickhammer, Jens and Peder Fredricson and Henrik von Eckermann he will be hoping to improve the situation dramatically. If that is going to happen then this is the time to do it, because the second half of the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup series is going to be an even more desperate struggle for survival in the top echelons of this great team sport.
The biggest surprise of all though is the fact that this week’s host nation is in second-last place on the leaderboard with only a single point earned after the first three legs. The newly-promoted Polish team, with its lack of experience and limited pool of riders but immense courage, has been lying last from the outset. But no-one would have expected that the reigning World Champions from Holland would be just one point ahead of them at this stage. The Dutch didn’t even make the cut into the second round at both La Baule and Rome, but their stoic Chef d’Equipe, Rob Ehrens, has one of the coolest heads in the business. He has a pool of 15 riders to choose from for this Friday’s clash, and he will send out the best he can muster to rescue Dutch pride. In front of their wildly enthusiastic home fans, he will be hoping they will truly rise to the occasion.
2010 MEYDAN FEI NATIONS CUP – STANDINGS AFTER ROUND 3 IN ST GALLEN:
1. France – 30.0
2. Great Britain – 18.5
3. Germany – 16.5
4. Ireland – 13.5
5. Spain – 12.5
6. USA – 12.0
7. Switzerland – 8.0
8. Sweden – 2.0
9. The Netherlands – 1.0
10. Poland – 0
Facts and Figures:
Rotterdam stages the fourth leg of the eight-round Meydan FEI Nations Cup series.
The French team, winners at the first three legs of the 2010 series, go into this half-way stage with an 11.5 point lead over Great Britain.
The host country is lying second-last on the leaderboard, with only one point after the first three legs.
France came out on top at this fixture in 2009.
Ireland’s Jessica Kuerten produced the only double-clear jumping performance that day riding the mare Quibell who is now in retirement.
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.
Rotterdam Press Officer, Anita Lussenberg
Tel: + 31 621585878
FEI Director Press Relations
Tel: +41 787 506 142