Tag Archives: FEI Nations Cup

Awesome Austrians Win Europe Division 2 Final in Budapest

Felix Koller with Captain Future 3. (FEI/Martin Dokoupil)

Team Austria earned promotion to Division 1 next season with a definitive victory at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Hungary in Budapest (HUN). And they’ll join their Hungarian hosts at the Longines 2018 World Final in Barcelona (ESP) in eight weeks’ time, as the top two teams in this Europe Division 2 decider are entitled to contest the lucrative annual clash of champions.

Three clears in the first round gave the Austrians the early edge and they didn’t flinch to finish on a zero scoreline. It was a superb weekend for anchorman Max Kuhner (44).

“I’m feeling pretty good because I won the Longines Grand Prix on Friday with Cielito Lindo and now I’m on the winning Nations Cup team with PSG Final!” — Max Kuhner (AUT)

All the more creditable was the fact that his Nations Cup horse is just an eight-year-old, the lovely bay gelding securing one of those pivotal foot-perfect runs in the opening round. It was Christian Rhomberg (27) who led the way for the winning side with an eight-fault result from Saphyr des Lacs, but when Julia Houtzager-Kayser (44) and rising star Felix Koller (21) made no mistake, then Kuhner wrapped up the early advantage.

However, the Hungarians were in hot pursuit as round two got underway, sharing a four-fault tally with Portugal and the Czech Republic while Norway was next in line carrying nine. The Norwegian side was almost a completely Gulliksen-family affair with son and daughter, Victoria and Johan-Sebastian, joining their father Geir along with Lisa Ulven. And they just missed the cut to the Barcelona Final when completing with 13 faults, only one point behind Hungary at the end of the day. Portugal finished fourth while Czech Republic had to settle for fifth ahead of Poland, Greece and the three-man Bulgarian team who brought up the rear.

The course designed by Germany’s Werner Deeg had some difficult lines as Houtzager-Kayser explained. “The water to the double at fences six and seven, and the line from the triple bar to the vertical and the oxer from eight to ten – none of that was easy!” she pointed out. However, she was well-pleased when her 14-year-old stallion Sterrehof’s Cayetano Z racked up an impressive double-clear, the only other coming from the 11-year-old Captain Future 3 ridden by team-mate Koller.

This young man, who has been based with the legendary Paul Schockemohle in Germany for the last six months, claimed individual Young Rider bronze at the Longines FEI European Championships in Fontainebleau (FRA) four weeks ago and looks to have a big future ahead of him.

“This was my first 5-Star Nations Cup and my horse was amazing; he is owned by my Austrian sponsor and he always gives his heart to me whenever we go in the ring!” — Felix Koller (AUT)

The prospect of fielding a team at the Longines 2018 Final in a few weeks’ time and of competing in Europe Division one next year all seemed quite overwhelming because Austria has a limited number of horses and riders at the top end of the sport. “Christian and Max will be competing at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon so we may have to find different horses for Barcelona, but this is so exciting – I can hardly believe it!” Koller said.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Mexicans Live the Dream in Dublin

Patricio Pasquel celebrates in a sombrero after jumping two brilliant clear rounds with Babel. (FEI/Jon Stroud)

They arrived as complete underdogs to take on many of the best nations in the world, but Team Mexico turned the sport on its head when winning the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Ireland in Dublin (IRL). This last leg of the Europe Division 1 series was electrifying from beginning to end, and incredibly tense in the closing stages with the home crowd willing their own boys to win it.

But Eugenio Garza Perez (22) and his veteran team-mates Federico Fernandez (50), Patricio Pasquel (46) and Enrique Gonzalez (54) enjoyed the warmest reception, including a great big Mexican wave, from the 20,000 spectators when producing three second-round clears to pin Ireland, France, and Italy into joint-runner-up spot. Mexico had never won at the Irish fixture before and it was 37 years since they last contested the coveted Aga Khan trophy at the historic Royal Dublin Society showgrounds. So along with their delighted Chef d’Equipe Stany van Paesschen they didn’t hold back on the celebrations afterwards.

“I’ve been doing this sport a long time and I’ve never had a day like this!” said Gonzalez, whose last-to-go effort proved the clincher. “The Mexicans were really incredible; they came back in the second round with real determination and when you’re in contention in a Nations Cup that’s how you have to ride,” Irish Chef d’Equipe Rodrigo Pessoa added.

It seemed the reigning European Champions from Ireland would have it all their own way when they cruised into the lead on a zero score at the halfway stage, with Italy snapping at their heels on four faults followed by USA, Mexico and France carrying eight apiece. The Swiss, British, and Dutch were already down the line, eventually finishing sixth, seventh and eighth while USA slotted ahead of them in fifth despite being hampered by elimination for Jamie Barge (Luebbo) at the water in both rounds.

Mexican pathfinder Garza Perez (Victer Finn) showed a dramatic improvement from his 12-fault first-round effort when clear second time out, and when Pasquel (Babel) produced one of four double-clears of the day and Gonzalez (Chacna) wrapped it up by also being foot-perfect all the pressure was on the Italians and Irish. And both faltered, adding four faults to complete along with France on a total of 12 as Team Mexico made history and a whole lot of new Irish friends.

“It’s a dream come true. Since we got the invitation we have not stopped dreaming about this moment. We worked hard to be here and we enjoyed every second!” said Fernandez who posted two four-fault scores with Landpeter do Feroleto. This is a very unique horse-and-rider partnership; both are survivors. Federico was involved in a devastating air-crash that left many dead in 1987, and Peter, as the horse is known, also suffered serious injury in a lorry accident that nearly took his life. The pure joy of success was written all over every Mexican face, and Federico was in tears at the post-competition press conference.

“After what happened to me I feel an obligation to be happy, and today was one of the happiest days of my life!” he said. Garza Perez was happy too because he is trained by Irish showjumping legend Eddie Macken and was disappointed with his three mistakes in the first round.  But he put it all right when clear at his second attempt. “I was anxious not to let Eddie down and I hope today was as good for him as it was for me. It’s really out of a dream; it’s incredible!”

This result confirms Belgium as winners of the Europe Division 1 series with Ireland finishing a close second, just five points behind. Switzerland, France, Netherlands, Great Britain, and Sweden fill the next five places on the leaderboard and all seven countries will compete at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final in Barcelona (ESP) in October. However, Germany and Italy have missed the cut and the Spanish who have finished last at the end of the 2018 season will be relegated to Europe Division 2 next year.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Irish Pip British in Brilliant Battle at Hickstead

Photo: Anthony Condon and SFS Aristio. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

Ireland won out in a two-way jump-off against old rivals Great Britain in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Great Britain at Hickstead. Wild winds and the first heavy rain to hit the region for more than 50 days ensured conditions were seriously challenging in this penultimate qualifier of the Europe Division 1 series. But Rodrigo Pessoa’s side of Trevor Breen (39), Richie Moloney (36), Michael Duffy (23) and Anthony Condon (31) battled through, and Condon clinched it in a third-round showdown against Holly Smith.

It was no day for the faint-hearted as the formidable Hickstead fences took their toll. The tall white gate at fence three was a real bogey, as was the 4-metre-wide open water which sealed the fate of the 2017 series champions from The Netherlands who retired in the closing stages. Only two weeks ago Johnny Pals and Chat Botte du Ruisseau Z were the Dutch heroes when pinning the Irish into runner-up spot at Falsterbo (SWE) in a four-way jump-off against the clock. But the lovely 10-year-old stallion found the Hickstead water very scary in both rounds, and, down to a three-man side following the withdrawal of Willem Greve’s Zypria S, the pair’s second-round tally of 23 faults was so expensive that Chef d’Equipe, Rob Ehrens, decided his team should call it a day.

But the British were also reduced to just three counting scores when former world no. 1 and 2012 Olympic gold medallist Scott Brash was eliminated at the open water both times out with Hello Shelby. Team manager Di Lampard has tremendous talent at her disposal, however, and Smith (Heart’s Destiny), Amanda Derbyshire (Luibanta BH) and William Whitaker (Utamaro D’Ecaussines) showed true grit to force the jump-off against the boys in green.

Smith set the target with a lovely clear round from her big, quality, nine-year-old bay who broke the beam in 43.39 seconds. Condon, who has been based in England for the last 14 years, knew what he had to do when it came to his turn.

“Holly is a very fast rider and her horse has a huge stride so she can be deceptive – I just thought that if I could do the same and be a little quicker, then I could catch her.” — Anthony Condon (IRL)

Steering his 12-year-old stallion SFS Aristio, which is owned by John and Pat Hales and their daughter Lisa, whose names will always be intrinsically linked with the super-stallion Arko and rider Nick Skelton, he broke the beam more than two seconds sooner. As he raced through the finish his fellow-countrymen Duffy (EFS Top Contender), Breen (Bombay) and Moloney (Freestyle de Muze), and the entire Irish contingent, exploded with delight.

Ireland has now rocketed up to third on the Europe Division 1 leaderboard and, with 335 points, the reigning European champions look well-qualified for the Longines 2018 Final in Barcelona (ESP) in October. Brazil finished third, Sweden fourth and the Belgians, long-time Europe Division 1 leaders, had to settle for fifth ahead of Italy who lined up sixth of the seven competing nations.

And the Irish have another big day to look forward to when the Europe Division 1 series concludes on home ground in Dublin (IRL) in 12 days’ time where Britain and Italy will be desperate to move out of the danger-zone at the bottom of the league table, as only seven of the 10 competing nations will make the cut to the Barcelona Final.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Dutch Win against All Odds at Fabulous Falsterbo

Photo: Maikel van der Vleuten and IDI Utopia. (FEI/Satu Pirinen)

Fierce battle in thrilling four-way jump-off against Ireland, Sweden, and Italy

It wasn’t all smooth sailing as the Dutch swept to victory in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Sweden at Falsterbo (SWE). Reduced to a three-man team following first-round drama for Michel Hendrix (31) and Baileys, and only making the cut into the jump-off after a successful appeal against four faults at the water for Maikel van der Vleuten (30) and IDI Utopia in round two, it might well have been too much to hope for that it would all come right in the end.

But when you combine great leadership with passion and pride, and you add in the quality of a partnership like Johnny Pals (36) and his super-stallion Chat Botte du Ruisseau Z who produced no less than three spectacular clears, and the final one the quickest of all, then you have all the ingredients for an epic afternoon of sport.

You don’t get days like this too often, and even the Irish who finished second, the Swedes who lined up in third and the fourth-placed Italians couldn’t argue with that. It was a Nations Cup classic, with just fractions of seconds deciding the result.

“Today was an absolute thriller!” — Rob Ehrens (Rob Ehrens, Chef d’Equipe, Team Netherlands)

It was the triple combination at fence five that led to the withdrawal of The Netherlands’ Hendrix when Baileys stopped and then tipped off his rider when they tackled it again. The Irish, hot favourites to win after a spectacular week of success at the Swedish fixture, held the lead on a zero score at the halfway stage while the Dutch, Swedes and Italians lay close behind with four faults apiece.

When Bertram Allen’s Gin Chin van Het Lindenhof put a foot in the water second time out and then Mark McAuley’s Utchan de Belheme left a pole on the floor the Irish advantage began to slip, however. But clears from Daniel Coyle (Cita) and Paul O’Shea (Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu) steadied the ship and they went into a four-way jump-off with Italy, Sweden, and eventually The Netherlands, all on a two-round four-fault tally.

First against the clock was Italy’s Luca Marziani, setting the target when clear in 42.71 seconds with Tokyo du Soleil, but the Swedish crowd went wild with delight when their hero, Henrik von Eckermann, steered Toveks Mary Lou through the timers more than a second faster in 41.52. As Johnny Pals set off you could hear a pin drop. “Rob said – you go for it – so I went for it!” said the Dutchman whose fabulous chestnut stallion jumped like a cat to put a time of 39.33 on the board. Last man in, Ireland’s Daniel Coyle, gave it his best shot with Cita who broke the beam in 40.47 seconds for runner-up spot. But it was the Men in Orange, and the 2017 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ champions, who would stand top of the Falsterbo presentation podium for the second year in a row.

The exceptional team spirit of the Dutch has delivered a stream of success for many years now. Maikel van der Vleuten reflected that when he looked back on the story of the day and how it all fell into place. “Michel was a bit unlucky in the first round; his horse just wasn’t feeling it today but that’s why we are a team and we were still strong enough to do the job!” And as Jur Vrieling (48), who produced an all-important anchorman double-clear with VDL Glasgow v. Merelsnest NOP, pointed out, supporting your team-mates is at the core of Nations Cup Jumping. “I’ve had it before where I’ve gone wrong and others have helped, so I was happy today to be able to do my job this time around!”

And as for Johnny Pals, he couldn’t help but be thrilled with the sensational performance of his 10-year-old stallion who never looked like putting a foot wrong all day.

“His breeding is Casall and Darco and he’s the horse of a lifetime!” — Johnny Pals (NED)

“He has so much scope and so careful! I have him two years and at the beginning he was a bit strong but he always had a great mentality,” he said of the horse who seems to have unbounded enthusiasm for his job.

And what now for the Dutch who have moved into sixth place on the Europe Division 1 leaderboard which is still headed by Belgium? “We have two more legs at Hickstead and Dublin left… we are going to try to beat the Belgians and win the League!” Rob Ehrens said.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Back-to-Back Win for Brilliant Belgians Puts Them Top of Division 1

Photo: Pieter Devos and Espoir. (FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst)

Germany finishes second in classic contest at Rotterdam; hosts share third place with USA and Switzerland

On a day of doubles, Team Belgium posted a back-to-back win in Europe Division 1 when coming out on top in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup of The Netherlands in Rotterdam. There were seven double-clears in the gripping competition over a really testing course set by Ireland’s Alan Wade. And the man who clinched it for the Belgian side, 22-year-old Jos Verlooy riding Igor, had already scooped the honours in Friday’s Longines Grand Prix with his other top horse Caracas.

However, perhaps the most important double of all was the fact that this was only the second time in the 70-year history of CSIO Rotterdam for a Belgian side to take the Nations Cup honours. Their only previous victory was back in 1950, and they did it in great style, under pressure in front of a packed stadium, and under the watchful eye of Dutch royal family member, and former Queen, Princess Beatrix, when posting a zero scoreline.

The Belgians are the form team right now, and they know it. “Our horses and riders are very strong this year – we are working towards the WEG (FEI World Equestrian Games) in September and I think we can produce a great result there!” said Verlooy. And his Chef d’Equipe Peter Weinberg was thinking even further down the line, to the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2018 Final in Barcelona (ESP) in October.

“I have a team of unbelievable fighters and we are high on the points table now so we are looking good for the final!” — Peter Weinberg (Chef d’Equipe Team Belgium)

Alan Wade will be course designer at the WEG and the world’s best are very happy to get experience over his tracks. As always it was built to maximum height and he tested riders more than horses, demanding straightness, balance, control and complete concentration from start to finish.

Belgium and Germany shared the lead on a zero score at the end of the first round, with Switzerland and USA close behind each carrying just four faults and the hosts and Great Britain next in line with eight apiece. Sweden couldn’t recover from a 15-fault first-round effort, but although the French completed with 16 they, like the British, showed evidence of the development of a very exciting string of newcomers.

Mistakes from Marcus Ehning (Comme Il Faut) and Markus Beerbaum (Cool Hand Luke) undermined German chances, but a double-clear from pathfinder Nicola Philippaerts (24) with H&M Chilli Willi got the Belgians off to a great start in the second round. Niels Bruynseels’ (34) lovely mare Cas de Liberte was one of several horses to misinterpret the triple bar at fence three in round one, and they went on to collect an uncharacteristic 13 faults. But second time out they were pure perfection, so when Verlooy also left the course fully intact it was game over and Belgium’s second win in a week following success in Sopot (POL) last Sunday. Pieter Devos (32) who had stepped in to rescue the situation with a brilliant first-round clear from Espoir didn’t have to jump again.

Verlooy was thrilled to have been the one to seal this historic success and was quick to thank his long-time trainer and current world no. 1 rider, Dutchman Harrie Smolders.  “Harrie told me: don’t think about the result; think about jumping every fence correctly and only look at the result when you are over the finish line – stay focused on what you are doing all the way!” Verlooy explained.

Belgium has now overtaken Switzerland on the Europe Division 1 leaderboard with Germany in third, France in fourth, Spain in fifth and Sweden in sixth place. Italy, Ireland, Great Britain and Netherlands are sitting at the bottom of the table but they all have three more chances to dramatically improve their positions at the remaining Europe Division 1 legs in Falsterbo (SWE) and Hickstead (GBR) next month and in Dublin (IRL) where the last qualifier will take place on 10 August.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Team Belgium Reigns Supreme in Hard-Fought Battle at Sopot

Photo: Niels Bruynseels and Cas de Liberte. (FEI/Lukasz Kowalski)

Frenchman Robert produces the only double-clear; Belgians now just 10 points behind Swiss at top of league table

Team Belgium won the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Poland, but it was no walk in the park. This fourth leg of the Western European League attracted teams from eight countries to the Hippodrome Arena in the popular seaside town of Sopot, and with six of those chasing down qualifying points for the Longines Final in Barcelona (ESP) in October it was always going to be a right royal battle.

Taking the early lead, Peter Weinberg’s side held on to reign supreme ahead of France in runner-up spot and the USA in third. Belgian anchorman, Niels Bruynseels (34), didn’t have to bring out his brilliant mare, Cas de Liberte, a second time but as he pointed out that wasn’t because it was an easy afternoon’s work.

“The course was tough – big and technical – and the time was quite tight, but we came here well prepared, with a strong team, strong riders and a good tactic, and everyone did a super job!” — Niels Bruynseels (Team Belgium)

Olaf Petersen Jr’s 12-fence course was certainly challenging. “The water (fence 5) was wide, there was a huge triple bar to a vertical (fences 9 and 10) and the last double (11) was very difficult,” Bruynseels pointed out. The distance to the big final water-tray oxer also caught out several of the big names in the first round, including French stalwart Kevin Staut (For Joy van’t Zorgvliet HDC) and American legend Margie Goldstein-Engle (Royce).

But it was Staut’s second-round clear that pulled his side back into the frame on a day when Mathieu Billot and Shiva d’Amaury, heroes of the French victory in St Gallen (SUI) two weeks ago, will want to forget. Olivier Robert didn’t have to jump in either round at the Swiss fixture because his team-mates were so impressive. But he helped France secure second spot with the only double-clear of the entire competition from his 14-year-old gelding Eros.

Foot-perfect runs from Olivier Philippaerts (24) and H&M Ikker and Jerome Guery (37) with Garfield de Tijl des Templiers meant that the four faults collected by Pieter Devos and Claire Z was the Belgian drop-score first time out and Bruynseels single time penalty was all they would carry into round two. Philippaerts double-faulted second time out, but Devos was clear and by the time Guery came home with just four on the board it was all over. Their 13-fault total could not be bettered.

Lying second on four faults at the halfway stage the Swedes disappeared from the reckoning, and a final tally of 16 moved the French into runner-up position while 21 faults secured third place for Team USA on a high-scoring afternoon.

The Belgians now head to Rotterdam in The Netherlands next Sunday (24 June) for the fifth round of the eight-leg Western European series lying just 10 points behind the league leaders from Switzerland and 20 points ahead of France, and with the tension increasing with every outing.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Irish on Song at Langley

Photo: Richie Moloney with Carrabis Z. (FEI/Cara Grimshaw)

Canada and USA clinch qualifying spots for Longines 2018 Final in Barcelona

Team Ireland posted a convincing victory in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Canada at Langley (CAN). In a five-country challenge they established their authority when holding the lead with just two faults on the scoreboard at the halfway stage, and then they wrapped it up in round two without having to call on anchorman Conor Swail for a second time.

Their final total of 12 faults didn’t truly reflect their supremacy which could have been even greater if Swail had returned to the ring. But they still finished six faults ahead of their Canadian hosts in runner-up spot while Team Mexico rallied brilliantly to line up third on 25 faults. USA had to settle for fourth when racking up a 34-fault total but that was still good enough to see them qualify, along with Canada, for the series Final in Barcelona (ESP) as the top two finishers in the North/Central America and Caribbean League qualifying series.

Brazil filled fifth and last place, but started with only a three-man side so had no drop-score, yet in keeping with the pattern of this fascinating competition the team showed a dramatic improvement second time out to finish on a total of 40.

When asked about the recipe for the Irish team’s recent successes, Chef d’Equipe Michael Blake said it is about putting a new strategy in place in order to expand the pool of horses and riders.

“Like a lot of countries, we had started to rely on the old guard too much. When I got the job, I decided the best thing we could do was develop as many riders as we could and give them Nations Cup experience. So last year 29 riders jumped on 20 different teams and we had 17 podium finishes out of 20. Obviously winning the European Championship was a big thing for us. This year, as of today, 25 riders have jumped on a Nations Cup team – we also had a win in Lisbon this weekend and for us to have two winning teams in the same weekend, that showed some depth!” — Michael Blake (Team Ireland Chef d’Equipe)

The Canadians always looked Barcelona-bound after winning the first two league qualifiers in Ocala (USA) and Coapexpan (MEX), but they couldn’t make it a hat-trick today when, despite a brilliant double-clear from pathfinders Tiffany Foster and Victor, they lost their second-line partnership. Keean White’s 13-year-old For Freedom Z took a severe dislike to the water-tray under the oxer at fence six and was eliminated. And water was a recurring theme all afternoon as the rain poured down on the Thunderbird show arena while American anchorman, Richard Spooner, gave a master-class in horsemanship at the open water obstacle. His 11-year-old Chatinus needed some serious encouragement just to splash through it first time out, but actually managed to clear it at his second attempt much to the delight of the crowd.

Daniel Coyle’s (23) uncharacteristic 13-fault result with Cita was Ireland’s only weak point in the first round. Richie Moloney (36) opened the competition with a foot-perfect run from the 15-year-old Carrabis Z, so when both former Irish armyman Brian Cournane with Dino and Swail with Rubens LS la Silla collected just a single time fault each then the team was well out in front going into round two. A second clear from Moloney meant that even adding the nine collected by Cournane and a single time fault from Coyle at his second attempt, the win was in the bag without Swail’s assistance.

Chef d’Equipe Blake said he was particularly pleased with today’s victory. “We targeted this event a year ago and put the team together early. All four riders managed to go one-time clear and Richie was brilliant – I’m so proud of him; he rode out of his skin. Daniel’s first round didn’t go to plan but he came back and did a great job, making a success out of potential disaster. That’s what Nations Cups are all about!” he said.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Foot-perfect French on Fire at St Gallen

Photo: Nicolas Delmotte and Ilex VP. (FEI/Gustavo Lorenzo)

Second-placed Swiss move further ahead on leaderboard; Belgium takes third

There were great big smiles on French faces when Philippe Guerdat’s side won the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Switzerland at St Gallen (SUI). The French may be Olympic champions, but what made their victory all the sweeter is that there were no riders from Rio 2016 in the team that simply swamped the opposition when never putting a foot wrong all day in this third leg of the Europe Division 1 series.

And to make it all the more impressive, it took only three of their team-members to do it, fourth-line rider Olivier Robert (42) languishing on the sidelines as his compatriots ensured his services were not required in either round.

This was the 15th French win at the Swiss fixture since 1987, and the first time in 20 years for any country to win the Swiss Nations Cup with a zero score. The hosts lined up second with eight faults while Belgium finished third with 13. There were seven teams in contention and it was Germany who slotted into fourth (16 faults) ahead of Great Britain in fifth (17 faults), Spain in sixth (20 faults) and Brazil, winners at the previous leg in La Baule (FRA) two weeks ago, in seventh spot (21 faults).

Mathieu Billot (32) and the 12-year-old stallion Shiva D’Amaury led the French offensive while Nicolas Delmotte (39) and the 10-year-old gelding Ilex VP were third to go for the winning nation. But the biggest surprise of the day was the superb performance of Alexandra Francart (38) who was on a mission with her lovely nine-year-old stallion Volnay du Boisdeville. The lady who runs a relatively small 12-horse competition yard near the Belgian border, not far from Reims, was competing in her very first 5-Star Nations Cup and only her second 5-Star show. And she admitted that she got her chance only by pestering Chef d’Equipe Guerdat over the last few months.

“My horse is very talented and the first time we placed in a 3-Star Grand Prix I told Philippe – okay, we are ready; it’s time to give us a chance! Then I told him again a second time, and when I called him a third time he agreed!” — Alexandra Francart (Team France)

She took that chance in both hands when bringing her horse home twice without a hiccup to prove her point. The French were already in the lead after the first round followed by the Swiss carrying just four faults and the Belgians carrying nine. Riding the brilliant mare Bianca, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat was also double-clear, while the British were unlucky.

Their pathfinder, William Whitaker, produced two spectacular clears from Utamaro d’Ecaussines and Holly Smith followed suit with Hearts Destiny. But Samuel Hutton and Happydam racked up 17 first-round faults and these had to be counted when Louise Saywell’s Golden Wave was eliminated at the open water. Hutton was fault-free second time out and while it was too late to rescue them from a minor placing, the British effort suggests Di Lampard’s pool of team contenders is steadily growing.

The winners from France will next line out in round four of the eight-leg Europe Division 1 series in Sopot, Poland in two weeks’ time, where they will be hoping to add to their points tally on the league table which continues to be dominated by the Swiss.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Strzegom Horse Trials – FEI Eventing Nations Cup

Photo: LOTTO Strzegom Horse Trials.

The third round of Nations Cup series in Eventing will take place in less than a month’s time on hippodrome in Morawa near Strzegom during LOTTO Strzegom Horse Trials. After events in Italian Vairano and British Houghton Hall, the Swedish team is in the lead.

Nations Cup series in Eventing will consist of eight events this year. It has begun in Italy in April. Strzegom will host the next, third in a row round. In the middle of October, during the event in Boekelo in Holland, we will find out who is the winner of the whole series.

After last weekend competition in Houghton Hall, Sweden is leading, and France is second equally placed with last year winner, Germany, both followed by USA team.

“The sports competition in Strzegom surely will be exciting and it will also be a test of the new Olympic format,” says Marcin Konarski, Event Director.

Contact:
www.strzegomhorsetrials.pl
press@strzegomhorsetrials.pl

Brazilians Triumph over Europe’s Elite in Hard-Fought Battle at La Baule

Photo: Yuri Mansur and Vitiki. (FEI/Thomas Reiner)

It took nerves of steel for anchorman Pedro Veniss (35) to clinch the honours for Brazil at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of France in La Baule (FRA). In a contest that came right down to the very last ride of the afternoon he had absolutely no room for error if he was to give his country an historic first-ever win at the Francois Andre Stadium in the beautiful French seaside town, and pin Europe’s elite into the minor placings. But partnering the fabulous 14-year-old stallion, Quabri de l’Isle, he produced a super-cool clear that left the 2017 series champions from The Netherlands in runner-up spot and Switzerland into third.

Veniss admitted he was feeling the pressure when last into the arena, but he knew he could rely on his horse.

“Quabri is my very best friend; he has so much scope and always tries his best for me – that’s the greatest feeling in the world!” — Pedro Veniss (Team Brazil)

The pair has a spectacular track record, having been on the Brazilian sides that finished fifth at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy, fourth at the Pan-American Games in Toronto (CAN) in 2015 and fifth at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Team spirit played a big part in Brazil’s success story, but, just like the Swiss who won the first Europe Division 1 leg in Slovakia three weeks ago, things weren’t looking altogether optimistic for them earlier in the week. Veniss’ first choice horse was unable to compete and then Felipe Amaral’s (27) ride came down with an allergy so he also had to change mounts.

But there’s a sense of rising momentum in the Brazilian camp, and Yuri Mansur’s (38) exciting 10-year-old, Vitiki, provided a major boost when clear in the first round in which both Veniss and Luiz Felipe de Azevedo Filho (43) riding Chaccomo collected just a single time fault to leave their country out in front at the halfway stage carrying just two faults. Amaral’s replacement ride, the inexperienced Germanico T, provided the drop score in both rounds.

Mansur’s Vitiki has literally come along in leaps and bounds over the last few months. “I bought him in October and he only jumped his first 1.30m track in November and now he has won the Nations Cup at La Baule – he’s developing so quickly!” said his delighted rider.

It was a super-close finish, Brazil posting a final tally of seven faults with the Dutch on eight and the Swiss on nine. The Netherlands had the satisfaction of collecting the maximum points of the six Europe Division 1 nations chasing points towards the 2018 Final. And their anchorman and new World No. 1, Harrie Smolders (Don VHP Z), took a one-third share of the €50,000 bonus on offer for double-clear rounds along with Spain’s Manuel Fernandez Saro (Cannavaro 9) and Germany’s Maurice Tebbel (Chaccos S).

Spain chased the leading pack all the way to finish fourth on 12 faults, Germany lined up fifth with 14, and Ireland slotted into sixth with 17 faults. It was a disappointing day for the French hosts who had to settle for seventh with 20 faults on the board, while Team Canada lined up eighth and last on a 35-fault total.

The result bodes well for the Brazilians who also finished an impressive second at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of the United States of America at Ocala (USA) in February and who now have the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon (USA) clearly in their sights.

For the Europe Division 1 teams, however, their next port of call is St Gallen on Sunday 3 June, where the host nation of Switzerland will be hoping to further boost their lead on the league table with another good result. That’s going to be a busy day of top sport as the third and final qualifier of the North/Central America & Caribbean League also takes place in Langley (CAN).

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145