Tag Archives: FEI Nations Cup

Strong Squad Delivers Decisive FEI Eventing Nations Cup Victory for New Zealand

Tim Price (NZL) riding Falco. Photo Copyright: ©FEI/Libby Law Photography

Team New Zealand are setting themselves up to be strong contenders for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games next year, and results at Millstreet further reinforced that. An experienced quartet led from start to finish at the Irish event, to leave them on an impressive final score of 114.6. This is one of the best team finishing scores seen in this popular eight-leg series in recent years, perhaps unsurprising given World number one and two riders Tim and Jonelle Price made up half of the team. They were joined by the experienced Clarke Johnstone and rising star, Samantha Lissington. Team Belgium were runners-up on 131.9, whilst Ireland delighted their home crowd by finishing third in what was a fierce competition.

The cross-country course proved the make or break of many combinations and teams and making the time was suitably challenging, with no riders finishing inside. Tim Price won the class overall on Falco, the horse that also gave him an individual and team bronze in Pratoni. His wife Jonelle also played her part on the ‘pocket rocket’ McClaren. The Prices, joined by Clarke Johnstone, were all members of the bronze-medal winning team at last year’s FEI Eventing World Championship in Pratoni del Vivaro (ITA).  All three riders were mounted on experienced horses who continued their reliable form by jumping double clears in the Jumping and cross-country phases. They were joined by Samantha Lissington, who was the drop score after picking up 20 penalties for a refusal on the cross-country phase.

Chef d’Equipe of the New Zealand Team is former Olympic Eventing rider Sam Griffiths, who summed up the result. “We are really proud of their performance. Because New Zealand doesn’t have the equivalent of a European Championship, we decided that we wanted to target a couple of Nations Cups, of which Millstreet is one, so we sent a strong contingent. It’s really good to bring the group together and practice what we need to do. We will also be hoping to do well at Aachen. It’s always really good to target an event and then deliver a really good result at that event, so we are really pleased.”

Riders were full of praise for the event and cross-country phase which was designed by Mike Etherington-Smith. “One of the reasons why we targeted Millstreet is that we know how beautiful the venue is. The Duggan family takes amazing care of it. We love Mike Etherington-Smith’s courses. They are always beautifully presented and even with the going being fast, time was incredibly difficult even with experienced combinations going pretty much as fast as they could,” said Griffiths.

Tim Price was delighted with his horse Falco, a 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding.

“Falco is a cracking horse; he’s established now and his intelligence is being used for the good of everyone. I was really proud of him, he’s such a cool wee horse,” said Price.

“We took this seriously because the New Zealand team were using Millstreet as a marker point for the powers that be back at home. It was important that we delivered a decent result and showed that we were on track this year and through to Paris, so we treated it as such and all brought good horses onto the team. The time was very tight (on the cross-country) so it felt like a proper test.”

The Kiwis have had mixed success at major team championships in recent years, but Griffiths believes they have a great and long-lasting future ahead, with Millstreet highlighting that. “We had incredibly strong performances from Clarke Johstone and Jonelle, so we were really solid. We are really starting to grow some strength and depth. At Millstreet we had 19 combinations competing and, for a country that is on the other side of the world, that shows it is really developing.”

The Belgian team, who finished in second place, also delivered some solid jumping performances. Tine Magnus, Belgian team member spoke for the team: “We’re going for the Olympic qualification, so we’ll be off to Strzegom next – and we’re going to win! Millstreet is a wonderful place. The cross-country was great to ride; we’re not used to such lovely big galloping tracks.”

FEI Eventing Director Catrin Norinder was also present at the event, and said: “We’d like to thank Millstreet and the Duggan family for putting on such a great FEI Eventing Nations Cup™. The surroundings and cross-country course are amazing. It was truly competitive and a unique opportunity to get so many nations together.”

This FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ series is of particular significance to some nations this year, as the highest-placed team according to the final team classification of the 2023 Series, excluding teams/NOCs already qualified, will be allocated a place for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

This was the third leg of the Series which will now move to Strzegom (POL) which runs from 21-25 June. The Belgians lead the Nations Cup Series at this early stage, with 270 points scored, after winning the opening event in Montelibretti last month to add to their second place.

FULL RESULTS

by Eleanore Kelly

press@fei.org
www.fei.org

Swiss Sweep to Victory Again in St Gallen

Martin Fuchs and Leone Jei. FEI/Martin Dokoupil

They waited 22 years to post a long-awaited win on home ground in St Gallen last year, and Team Switzerland stole the show once again when topping the opening leg of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2023 Europe Division 1 series at their home venue.

Their back-to-back victory was no walk in the park, however, with the result only decided in a thrilling jump-off against the clock in which home hero Martin Fuchs sealed it with a clear round from Leoni Jei, while Brazil’s Yuri Mansur and Miss Blue-Saint Blue Farm QH were quicker but left the very last fence on the floor.

The Brazilians were truly impressive, firmly in the lead at the halfway stage on a zero score and without even having to call on their anchor partnership of Pedro Veniss and Nimrod de Muze Z. But in the end, it was Fuchs and teammates Edouard Schmitz, Bryan Balsiger, and Steve Guerdat who stood top of the podium, both Balsiger and Guerdat bolstering Swiss chances with superb double-clear performances.

Generous

The time-allowed of 77 seconds proved generous over Swiss course designer Gerard Lachat’s 12-fence track, but the final line of three fences that included a triple bar to a tight double of vertical-to-oxer and the final planks proved influential.

In glorious sunshine, the horses looked fresh and full of enthusiasm as they enjoyed the big open arena, and when Francisco Jose Mesquita Musa (Alea Marathon), Rodrigo Pessoa (Major Tom), and Mansur and his impressive 10-year-old mare all went clear first time out, then Veniss didn’t need to go as only the best three scores would count.

However, Great Britain and Switzerland were only a fence behind, on four faults going into round two when the British fell back with the addition of eight, while the Swiss, in contrast, really rose to the challenge to add nothing to their four-fault scoreline.

Chink

The first chink in the Brazilian armour was a brick out of the wall at fence two in an otherwise foot-perfect second run from Mesquita Musa. Pessoa produced a second spectacular clear and Veniss was faultless on his first tour of the track, but when Mansur’s mare kicked out the top plank at fence five at her second attempt, then they moved also on to a four-fault tally, forcing a third-round head-to-head.

That was also a thriller, Fuchs throwing down a superb target time of 42.14 seconds with a clear that had the home crowd gasping all the way. But Mansur was well up on time coming to the last and broke the beam in 41.84 seconds. Fuchs didn’t see the final fence fall for the Brazilian and initially thought he’d been beaten.

“I couldn’t even watch the last fence because I was looking at the time on the clock hoping Yuri would be slower. And then the clock stopped and he was faster and I was ‘whaaaat’!” said Fuchs.

As it happened, he had nothing to worry about. “I have to say congrats to team Brazil and Yuri Mansur for really making it so exciting for everyone today,” he added.

A great day

“What a great day!” 30-year-old multiple champion Fuchs said. “It was a very exciting class; my teammates were fantastic and my horse was great. I had a rail in the first round and was obviously very disappointed with that, because he jumped fantastic and I really thought we could go for the clear. But in the next round he really gave everything, and that’s also why we decided I would be the one to jump off, because my horse felt great today.”

When Swiss pathfinder Schmitz had the first element of the triple combination at fence six down on his second tour of the track, there was nothing sure about the destination of the St Gallen Nations Cup title.

“Now I knew we had to deliver clear rounds, because the Brazilian team looked very, very strong in the first round. We knew we had to put pressure on them and that’s how it turned out. It worked out really great, and it’s always very sweet to win in front of the home crowd,” Fuchs added.

Encouraging

When asked if the result is encouraging ahead of the challenge of achieving qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, which until now has evaded Team Switzerland, Fuchs quickly replied, “We don’t need any encouragement! We are all already highly motivated to get this Olympic qualification, and a win like this gives you confidence, gives you a boost. If you can win in front of the home crowd where the pressure is high, then you know you can deliver also at a Championship, and that’s an important point we can take away from today,” he said.

Olympic places are on offer at the forthcoming FEI Jumping European Championship and at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final 2023, which will take place in Barcelona (ESP) at the end of September. But before all that, there will be another five exciting rounds to decide the line-up for the Longines Final to which the top seven of the ten nations competing in Europe Division 1 will make the cut.

Sopot in Poland is the next port of call for competitors in this exciting top-level series, which also stops off at Rotterdam (NED) later in June before moving to Falsterbo (SWE) and Hickstead (GBR) in July and finally visits Dublin (IRL) in August.

by Louise Parkes

press@fei.org
www.fei.org

The Race for the Nations Cup in Eventing Is On in Strzegom

Photo: Leszek Wójcik

The competition for the Nations Cup in the equestrian triathlon will take place at the hippodrome in Morawa during LOTTO Strzegom Horse Trials. Will the Polish team take the win once again?

The FEI Eventing Nations Cup season began in March in Montelibretti, Italy. The tour includes eight legs all over Europe. After two competitions, the Belgian team are the current leaders. This year, the fight is not only about Nations Cup points. A high position in the classification of the entire series is a chance for teams that have not yet qualified to secure their team for the Olympic Games – Paris 2024

During LOTTO Strzegom Horse Trials, the fourth leg of the Nations Cup will be settled. In Poland, it will be the highest-ranked class in eventing, i.e. an equestrian triathlon, in which riders and their horses compete in three trials: dressage, cross-country, and show jumping.

For the last three years, the Polish national team ended the fight at the Strzegom stage of the Nations Cup for with a place on the podium, and last year, for the first time in history, the white-and-red team were victorious.

In addition to the Nations Cup, the sports program includes as many as nine international classes from one to four stars, including ones for all youth categories. Powerhouse eventing teams have already announced their participation: Great Britain and, for the first time in history, a team from the United States.

“This year we celebrate the jubilee 20th edition of the competition. Much more than the sporting spectacle awaits the fans. The program includes many attractions for the audiences. Let’s celebrate together,” says Marcin Konarski, chairman of the organizing committee.

The Hobby Horse competition, which has recently been beating popularity records, will be a surprise innovation. It is a new sport discipline in which competitors challenge themselves on “horses” made of a horse’s head on a wooden bar, and the rules of competition are inspired by the regulations of equestrian shows. The two-day tournament, on June 24-25, will be held in eventing for the first time in Poland.

The program also includes performances by stuntmen who will present their vaulting skills in the show of the Caucasian jigitovka, as well as dog agility shows.

The competition will take place on June 22-25, at the hippodrome in Morawa near Strzegom, Lower Silesia. Admission is free.

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

United States Is Golden in the Golden State

McLain Ward (USA) riding Contagious (FEI/McCool Photos)

The United States won their second consecutive Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ event Sunday in San Juan Capistrano (USA), securing a comfortable victory in front of a home crowd at The Oaks International Grand Prix Field two weeks after triumphing in Mexico.

The event marked the first Nations Cup event held in the state of California, and Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland brought forward a powerhouse team that featured Lillie Keenan (Argan de Beliard), Karl Cook (Kalinka van’t Zorgvliet), Laura Kraut (Dorado), and McLain Ward (Contagious).

The squad delivered. Over Leopoldo Palacios’ (VEN) 1.60m track, they finished on a total score of 12 faults. Ireland finished second (17 faults), with Mexico third (33 faults).

“Qualifying for the Nations Cup [Finals] in Barcelona had to be a major priority, because that’s one of two ways left to qualify for the Olympics. We basically took our ‘A’ team at the beginning of the year and split it in half. We sent the first half to Mexico [and came here] with the other half,” said Ridland.

All three riders from the U.S.’s silver medal-winning squad from Tokyo were represented across the two teams. In Mexico, Kraut delivered three clear rounds when prevailing in a jump-off against Mexico. In San Juan Capistrano, it was Ward’s turn to lead the way. Ward produced the only double-clear effort on the day aboard his partner from the Tokyo Olympic Games, Contagious.

“I thought Leopoldo set a very challenging track. When I walked it, I have to say I was a tiny bit surprised at how big it was,” Ward said. “But it’s a five-star Nations Cup. There are huge consequences to this qualification, and that’s the way it should be.”

The United States boasted a comfortable lead heading into the second round, with more than a rail in hand over Canada. But Ireland launched a tremendous rally their second time around the course. Neither Andrew Bourns (Sea Topblue), David Blake (Claude), nor Conor Swail (Nadal Hero & DB) touched a pole, finishing the round with just a single fault added to their scorecard.

That put a greater amount of pressure on the home nation, but veterans Kraut and Ward were clear for the U.S., securing the victory. Not a single U.S. rider incurred more than 4 faults in a single round of competition.

“When this group of riders that we have here are on form, it suits us when it’s more difficult. So I think it worked in our favour,” said Ward.

Kraut was the only rider to have also competed in Mexico. In that event, she rode her Tokyo Olympic Games mount, Baloutinue. In San Juan Capistrano, she brought forward 10-year-old Dorado for his Nations Cup debut.

“I was thrilled with him,” Kraut said. “I will tell you, in the first round, he definitely was impressed. I agree with McLain that the course was much more difficult than I was expecting, and it caught me off guard. [Dorado] was a little bit shy from the first round, and he could have gotten smaller for the second round, or he could have grown. He grew and rode around beautifully, like he’d been doing it a long time.”

With their victory, the United States increased their lead in the North and Central America and Caribbean division; they boast 200 points. Mexico sits second with 170 points, and Canada is third (150 points).

The division concludes in Vancouver (CAN) on 4 June 2023.

Full Results

By Catie Staszak

press@fei.org
www.fei.org

Team Belgium Are Decisive Winners at Opening Leg of FEI Eventing Nations Cup

From left: Team Italy in second place – Chef D’Equipe Giacomo Della Chiesa, Matteo Orlandi, Fosco Girardi, and Evelina Bertoli; Team winners Belgium – Jarno Verwimp, Karin Donckers, Lara De Liedekerke Meier, Senne Vervaecke, and Chef D’Equipe Kai-Steffen Meier; Third place Switzerland – Felix Vogg, Roxane Gonfard, and Chef D’Equipe Dominik Burger. Copyright ©FEI / Massimo Argenziano.

It was a clean sweep for Team Belgium who claimed the first leg of the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ held in Montelibretti (ITA). With consistent three phase performances by all four of their riders, they finished on a score of 93.7 penalties. The home nation Italy lagged some way behind in second on a score of 152.3, whilst Switzerland finished third on 192.1.

Three of the four Belgian riders finished inside the top ten which gave them a healthy lead with almost a 60 point margin over Italy. Jarno Verwimp put in an exemplary display in all three phases with her Belgian bred mare Mahalia, and a double clear with just 1.2 cross-country time penalties left the athlete on a final score of 26.9, good enough for a second position in the individual ranking, just a whisker behind Austrian athlete Lea Siegl, who finished on 24.9 for Austria. Belgian teammate Lara De Liedekerke Meier was fourth on Ducati D’Arville, whilst eventing stalwart Karin Donckers finished eight on Fletcha Van’t Verahof.

Both the jumping phases proved challenging to a number of combinations and shook up the leader board after both phases. The cross-country phase proved particularly influential with eight combinations eliminated or retiring and a further seven finishing jumping penalties. No combinations finished within the time allowed.

Riders and nations have just one season left to qualify for the Paris Olympics held next year and the Belgians are yet to qualify. Whilst they will have a chance at the European Championships held in Le Pin au Haras (FRA) later this year, the Nations Cup Series provides an opportunity for teams and individuals to gain qualification through the FEI points allocation system. The nations qualified for Paris so far are host nation France, Great Britain, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland, and the USA.

The FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ Series now moves to the prestigious venue of Chatsworth in Great Britain, which runs from 13-14 May.

FULL RESULTS

by Eleanore Kelly

press@fei.org
www.fei.org

Germany Storms to Nations Cup Gold in Week 7 of AGDF

Felicitas Hendricks & Drombusch 2. Photo © SusanJStickle.com.

For the third consecutive year, it was Germany whose national anthem rang out at the conclusion of the Stillpoint Farm FEI Nations Cup™ contest in Week 7 of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) in Wellington, Florida.

The Nations Cup™ in Wellington is a mixed team competition, allowing countries to put forward a combination of small tour and big tour combinations, with the grand prix combinations being awarded a bonus of 1.5% on their score. Germany’s winning team of Frederic Wandres, Felicitas Hendricks, Anna-Christina Abbelen, and Michael Klimke finished on 437.844 points, with the silver medal winning USA team of Charlotte Jorst, Anna Marek, Christian Simonson, and Susan Dutta on 427.285, and Sweden (Christina Devine, Caroline Darcourt, and Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén) in bronze on 414.498.

Germany’s top score on Friday came courtesy of a 72.234% (rounded up to 73.734% with the bonus) personal best in the CDIO3* Grand Prix Special from rising stars Hendricks — the youngest rider on the team — and her own Drombusch 2 (by Destano).

“I’m really glad I had the opportunity to show here, and I think it’s perfect conditions for us riders and a top series,” said the 22-year-old. “I was able to have the highest score today and I love the grand prix special. It went well with the passage and extended trot parts — those were our highlights today. I couldn’t be prouder of our team.”

Personal Bests under the Lights

In the “Friday Night Stars” class under lights, the CDI3* FEI Grand Prix Freestyle, presented by Buffalo Wild Wings, the Spanish rider Pablo Gómez Molina punched the air in jubilation at the final halt after completing a 77.865% test. Aboard the 13-year-old PRE gelding Ulises De Ymas — who is owned by Javier Bacariza, Cristina Danguillecourt, and Yeguada de Ymas SL — Gómez Molina scored a huge new personal best of 77.865%.

Gómez Molina rode to an upbeat compilation featuring Queen and “Harry Potter” theme song music, for which he received two nines.

“Ulises is really active with a lot of activity and knee action, and I think it fits him really well. I was hearing the crowd clapping in time, so I think they liked it,” said the beaming 28-year-old. “I started competing internationally in Wellington, so for me to win the grand prix yesterday and today win the freestyle — I’ve been here watching every single freestyle — it’s pretty special.”

For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

Pablo Gomez Molina Scores First Grand Prix Victory aboard Ulises de Ymas

Pablo Gomez Molina & Ulises de Ymas. Photo © SusanJStickle.com.

The opening day of an exciting week at the Adequan Global® Dressage Festival (AGDF) saw top talent rise with a new personal best for Spain’s Pablo Gomez Molina in the Iron Spring Farm CDI3* FEI Grand Prix on Thursday morning. Thirty athlete combinations rode down centerline to kick off Week 7 of competition at the venue.

As one of the final entries, Gomez Molina piloted the 13-year-old P.R.E. gelding Ulises de Ymas (Seni Indio x Superior II) to his top-finishing score of 71.087% in the class for the highest honors. Breaking the 70% mark, but still falling short of Gomez Molina’s total, Susan Pape (GBR) and Harmony’s Eclectisch rode into second place with a score of 70.587%. The victory lap was rounded out by the USA’s Anna Marek on Fire Fly, who finished with a score of 69.500%.

USA Scores Home Team Win in Under-25 FEI Nations Cup

The FEI Nations Cup for Under 25 riders, presented by Diamante Farms, was the feature competition on Thursday during opening day of week 7 at AGDF. The under-25 division was a clean sweep for team “stars and stripes” who pocketed the gold with a point total of 139.736. The home nation also secured the silver medal with a finishing score of 135.500. Rivals to the north, Canada landed in the bronze position with a final tally of 133.118.

Benjamin Ebeling (USA) boasted the only score to break 70% in the CDIOU25 Intermediate II, presented by Diamante Farms, which left him both with the team gold and individual first place aboard Ann Romney’s 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding Status Royal OLD (Statesman OLD x Rubin Royal OLD). Ebeling’s performance was a repeat of his victory during the same event last year in which he and the mount scored only a slight fraction below their most recent test on a percentage of 70.647%.

In an impressive performance during her debut as a team rider for the United States, Callie O’Connell clinched the class’s overall second-place position by earning 69.089% for her performance aboard the Ruling Cortes LLC Owned 14-year-old KWPN gelding Eaton H (Wynton x San Remo).

For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

Meet the Next Gen: Gilles Thomas

(Photo: Rolex / Ashley Neuhof)

You have had a great year; what has been your highlight?

I have an such an amazing year; it is hard for me to pick just one highlight! I had my first 5* victory in the King George V Gold Cup at Hickstead in July, which was amazing, and then coming third in the CP ‘International’ at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament was a fantastic result. Most recently being on the Belgium team and winning the FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final was incredible for me. I don’t think I can choose just one of those moments!

What are you hoping to achieve between now and the end of the year?

I am hoping to ride at CHI Geneva – that would be amazing. Then in Belgium we have the have a 5* show which includes a FEI Jumping World Cup™, in Mechelen, between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. This show is always very important to Belgian riders, and my family are involved in the organisation of it, so I really hope I can have a good result in the FEI Jumping World Cup™ there.

What are your hopes and ambitions for 2023 and beyond?

My ultimate dream is to compete at CHIO Aachen; in my opinion, it is the best show in the world and the Rolex Grand Prix there is one of the most prestigious classes in the calendar. I am also aiming to compete in a Belgium senior team at a big championship. I have competed in Junior and Young Rider teams, but to be part of the Belgium team at the FEI World Championships or the Olympic Games and win a medal would be a dream come true.

After your great performance in the CP ‘International’, how will you prepare for CHI Geneva?

I’m not totally sure whether I will be competing there yet, but I hope that I will. They are two very different shows, but I would still take Aretino 13, as even though the arena at CHI Geneva is indoors, it is still very big. If I go to CHI Geneva, it will be the only indoor show that Aretino 13 competes in because he is a big horse and needs more space, so he suits outdoor arenas better. CHI Geneva is such an amazing show and so I will plan to take my three best horses if I go.

Read more here.

© 2022 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

LOTTO Strzegom Horse Trials: The Countdown Is On!

Photo: Mariusz Chmieliński.

The competition for valuable points in the third leg of the FEI Eventing Nations Cup and the fight for the medals of the Polish Championship takes place in Morawa.

The LOTTO Strzegom Horse Trials competition will start with almost 350 horses at the start, nine cross-country tracks, riders representing 22 countries, and great riders, including the current Olympic champion.

The equestrian triathlon, as eventing is often called, is one of the most spectacular horse sports. It consists of three tests: Dressage, Cross-country, and Show Jumping. During the four days of the tournament, the horse and rider combinations will compete in ten international classes, ranging from one to four stars, including the FEI Eventing Nations Cup. The show will also be the playground of the Polish Championships of seniors, young riders, and juniors.

The arenas of Strzegom will host, among others, the current Olympic champion, Julia Krajewski from Germany, her compatriot Andreas Dibowski, the team Olympic gold medalist, as well as Jonelle and Tim Price from New Zealand, currently fifth and sixth in the world ranking of the International Equestrian Federation. We will also see the leading Polish athletes, members of the national team, including Mateusz Kiempa, Jan Kamiński, Małgorzata Korycka, and Kamil Rajnert.

On Thursday, the riders will start the competition with the dressage test. The cross-country tests will be held for three days and promise to be exciting. The athletes will have nine routes to face, with a total length of nearly 35 kilometers. Over 240 obstacles with a maximum height of 120 cm will be placed over the courses. The longest route will measure 5700 meters. The last test of the equestrian triathlon, the show jumping, will require extreme precision and technical skills.

“Not only the sports competition promises to be exciting. After two years of the Covid pandemic and restrictions for the public, this year we are opening the stands to the audiences and we are planning many attractions,” says Marcin Konarski, chairman of the Organizing Committee.

Special attractions await the youngest fans. In the Little Fan Zone, kids be able to ride a pony, learn how to groom a horse, and meet the stars of the show. A special part of the program is a mini cross-country, performed by children on ponies, and willing kids will be able to try their hand at the jumping competition on foot.

The competition will be held from 23 to 26 June at the hippodrome in Morawa near Strzegom. Admission to the competition is free. Parking costs PLN 20.

Entries: https://www.strzegomhorsetrials.pl/images/2022/01/LSHT_ENTRIES_CCI_2022.pdf

Timetable: https://www.strzegomhorsetrials.pl/en/time-table.html

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

Swiss Steal the Show at St Gallen

Martin Fuchs and Leone Jei (FEI/Martin Dokoupil)

They’d been waiting a long time – a full 26 years since last topping the line-up on home ground at the Grundenmoos Arena – so the Swiss victory in the first leg of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup 2022 Europe Division 1 series at St Gallen was extra-sweet.

Even though they were lying equal-second with The Netherlands and Norway carrying eight faults at the halfway stage of the eight-nation contest, Michel Sorg’s side was filled with confidence. In the end, three second-round clears wrapped it up.

Whip hand

Great Britain had the whip hand at the halfway stage when, with only the best three scores counting for each team, they could drop one of the four-fault efforts posted by Joseph Stockdale (Equine America Caaharel) and Jack Whitaker (Equine America Valmy de la Lane), because pathfinder Harry Charles (Casquo Blue) and anchorman John Whitaker (Equine America Unick du Francport) were both foot-perfect.

But Stockdale was the only member of Di Lampard’s side to keep a clean sheet second time out when they were forced to add eight faults to their scoreline for a final tally of 12. And The Netherlands’ Jack Ansems (Fliere Fluiter), Sanne Thijssen (Con Quidam RB), Jur Vrieling (Long John Silver), and Marc Houtzager (Sterrehof’s Dante) overtook them for runner-up spot when finishing on the same score but in a quicker time.

Team Germany finished fourth on 16 faults, Belgium finished fifth ahead of Brazil with a faster 20-fault result, Norway racked up 24 for seventh spot, and Austria finished eighth and last on a total of 28.

Pressure

It came right down to the last rider into the ring to decide the result, all the pressure piling onto the capable shoulders of the legendary John Whitaker who could force a jump-off with the eventual winners if he could steer a second clear course over Gerard Lachat’s 12-fence track. Both Harry Charles and his nephew Jack Whitaker had collected four faults apiece this time out, but if Uncle John could add another zero to Stockdale’s clear, then it would go to a third-round head-to-head to decide the result.

It was looking really good until Unick du Francport clipped the middle element of the triple combination, leaving the cool, calm Swiss clear winners, adding nothing more to their first-round scoreline.

They were favourites from the outset, and the double-clear posted by pathfinders Martin Fuchs and Leone Jei proved pivotal. The Swiss star, who turns 30 next month and who recently added the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ title to the individual European gold medal he bagged last September, produced two spectacular rounds, while team-mate, 20-year-old Edouard Schmitz, followed a first-round mistake with Quon at the first element of the double at fence four with a brilliant run at their second attempt.

Pius Schwizer was looking foot-perfect until lowering the final two fences in round one, but produced a copybook second effort with Vancouver de Lanlore. The enthusiastic spectators gasped in disbelief when Swiss anchor Steve Guerdat made it all the way to the last with Venard du Cerisy in round one only for that to fall, and as it happened, the 2012 Olympic champion didn’t need to jump again because the job was done and dusted.

History-making

There was a real sense of history-making and Fuchs was delighted to be part of it. “Whenever I was on the team in St Gallen we never won, but we said this year now we have to win, and finally we did it!

“We were confident because Edoaurd’s horse jumped really well and Pius’ horse too, and we changed his plan for the second round to put an extra stride in the last line. And Steve had one rail at the last fence, so we all thought he would deliver in the second round, but in the end, he didn’t need to go,” he explained.

Lachat’s course certainly played its part, the line from fences six to eight proving particularly influential. “After the water jump (fence 6), there was the plank and then a short five strides to a liverpool oxer – you needed good rideability and a careful horse, and you needed scope for the oxer, so this kind of asked everything of the horse and rider,” he pointed out.

Big moment

It was a big moment posting this historic result in front of the home crowd.

“We knew we had a strong team as we were already good in the Grand Prix. I think the crowd knew that as well and they really cheered for us this afternoon. This is an amazing feeling. I felt my horse was super today and I’m happy we could contribute to this home win!” Fuchs added, while Schmitz said, “I will never forget this day!”

Guerdat was quietly happy with the result too. “I’m now a little older, so my fault at the last fence in the first round bothered me a little less than it used to! In the Nations Cup at the end, it is the team result that counts and it worked out today. It has been a great show, with great public, perfect organisation, and very nice courses from Gerard. We will have nice memories from this weekend for sure!” he said.

Swiss Chef d’Equipe Michel Sorg also had plenty to be happy about. “Edouard was already good in the Grand Prix at La Baule a few weeks ago and again here on Saturday – I am really happy that he confirmed that here today and I’m really proud of all my team!” he said.

Result here.

by Louise Parkes

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