Falsterbo (SWE), 8 July 2011 – It was a case of “mission accomplished” for the German team at Falsterbo, Sweden today when they won the fourth leg of the FEI Nations Cup 2011 and consequently rocketed up the series leaderboard to third place. In a thrilling competition that saw the defending double-champions share runner-up spot with the host nation as, at last, the pendulum of good fortune began to swing back in the direction of the French, the Dutch had to settle for fourth ahead of the Irish in fifth while the USA clinched sixth place.
The withdrawal of Tim Stockdale and Fresh Direct Kalico Bay left the British vulnerable in the second round and in seventh at the end of the day despite otherwise consistently good performances. And while the Belgians finished eighth with a big score of 47 faults on an afternoon they will probably not care to remember, it was an even more difficult day for the Danes who finished last and are now so far behind at the bottom of the league table that it seems nothing can save them from relegation in their debut season of top-level Nations Cup jumping. Punished in the first round by the elimination of anchorman Thomas Velin who seemed at odds with his long-time ride Godsend du Reverdy, their chances were completely crushed when Tina Lund’s Qrispy D Ive Z simply refused to take part in the second round.
The Germans and Swedes were in the lead on level pegging with just four faults apiece at the end of the round one, followed closely by the Irish carrying eight and then the French with 12, the Dutch with 13, the USA with 15 and the British with 16 faults on the board. Denmark and Belgium were already trailing the field with 25 and 27 faults respectively, the 34 faults collected by last-line-rider Jan Vinckier (Ursela) seriously compromising Belgian chances. But to say he was unfortunate second time out would be a complete understatement. The triple combination – vertical, oxer, vertical – at fence eight was the bogey of the day, but Ursela had lowered only the previous oxer before she slipped on landing over the second element of the treble and slid to a stop in front of the third. Persistent rain throughout the opening round had necessitated the movement of some fences to better ground, but it still proved increasingly challenging as the competition progressed.