The British put in a storming performance to win the last leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Europe Division 1 league in Dublin, Ireland today and earn a qualifying spot for the inaugural series Final in Barcelona, Spain next month. Lying second-last on the league table as the competition began, they needed to finish fourth or better if they were to make the cut. And in a thrilling class that was undecided right to the very end, they did it in style, pinning The Netherlands into second while the USA and the host nation shared third.
A powerful German team lined out at the Irish fixture, but they had to settle for joint-fifth with France while Ukraine and Spain filled seventh and eighth places respectively. Germany will not compete at the Furusiyya Final as the six nations that have qualified from Europe Division 1 were confirmed today as Switzerland, France, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Ireland and Ukraine.
Course designer Alan Wade, son of legendary rider and former Irish Chef d’Equipe Tommy Wade, really put it up to them with his track. Initially it seemed it might just not be testing enough, with five of the first-line riders going clear, but as it turned out that was simply evidence of the quality of the field. First into the ring, Germany’s Marcus Ehning and Plot Blue made a single mistake at the vertical that followed the most influential fence on the course - the Post Office double of verticals that had a water-tray under the second element. Even the most experienced of horses tended to do a double-take at this one, and if they didn’t hit it, then the following vertical often fell instead.
Britain’s Nick Skelton said the pencil-shaped green and gold poles used in the double “are a bit of an optical illusion, and the liverpool going out, lots of horses had a look at that so the four strides were a bit flat going to fence seven - the rest was pretty straightforward”. Not everyone found it quite so uncomplicated however.
Fences fell all around the lovely Royal Dublin Society arena, including the Tara Brooch oxer at fence two and the following vertical at three, but the RDS Library wall at fence four was only disturbed twice during the afternoon. It was after the oxer at fence five that things really began to heat up, with the tricky Post Office double leading to the 1.62m high vertical at fence seven where the black poles were an added distraction. From there it was a gallop on a bending line to the 4.20m wide open water and the following 1.60m vertical, before a roll-back to another water-tray vertical and then the triple combination which led to the final oxer.
Just four of the eight competing nations were battling for points today - Ukraine, France, Ireland and Britain - and Ukrainian chances were badly shaken when Cassio Rivetti’s opening clear with Vivant was followed by elimination for Oleg Kraysuk whose 12-year-old gelding, SIEC Ledgepoint, fell when they got into a serious muddle at the troublesome Post Office double. And when team-mates Ulrich Kirchhoff and Katherina Offel collected 28 faults between them they where already trailing the rest of the field at the halfway stage. Despite a superb double-clear from Rivetti the Ukrainians would never recover but, fortunately, they had previously garnered enough qualifying points to make the series Final.
Led the Way
It was the Dutch who led the way into round two this afternoon with just four faults on the board followed by the British and Irish with eight while Germany, USA and France were tied on 12 and the Spanish were carrying 20.
A fall for Sergio Alvarez Moya when Zipper refused at fence seven did nothing to help Spanish prospects, and although Ehning went clear second time out and Janne Frederike Meyer (Cellagon Lambrasco), Rolf Moormann (Acorte) and Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (Bella Donna) made only single mistakes, the German final total of 20 would leave them well down the order. The American result was anchored by a fabulous double-clear from Beezie Madden and Cortes C, one of four fault-free performances on the day, and when Katie Dinan and Nougat du Vallet left all the timber intact at their second attempt the USA completed with 16.
An uncharacteristic 16 faults for Michel Robert whose 11-year-old mare Oh D’Eole was unnerved by the Post Office double in both rounds saw the French having to add eight more faults to their tally. And when Dermott Lennon and Loughview Lou-Lou produced the only Irish clear in the second round, the home side had to add eight also to finish alongside the Americans with 16 at the end of the day.
Clears from Skelton and Big Star and Ben Maher with Cella boosted British chances however, and although Robert Smith and Voila left two fences on the floor second time out, a wonderful double-clear from Scott Brash and Hello Sanctos really piled the pressure on the last rider into the ring. Albert Voorn had underpinned the Dutch advantage when foot-perfect for a second time with Tobalio, but two down for Hendrik-Jan Schuttert and Cerona and a last-fence mistake from Michel Hendrix and Wait and See left them much more vulnerable. As Gert-Jan Bruggink entered the ring he knew a clear would force a jump-off with the British, but when his nine-year-old gelding Primeval Dejavu hit the second element of the triple combination it was all over, and the British had secured their 27th victory in the long history of the coveted Aga Khan Cup.
Rider of the Day
Brash’s two rounds of pure magic earned him the Furusiyya Rider of the Day award. “My horse has been unbelievable for the last six or seven shows” he said. “He’s been jumping clear since London, we’re in the groove in this partnership since the Olympic Games” he pointed out.
British Chef d’Equipe, Rob Hoekstra, was delighted - “my team were fantastic under pressure today. We haven’t had the best Nations Cup season but it came right in the end, and I’m very proud of them. Now we’re really looking forward to the Final in Barcelona”, he said. Although Maher was part of Great Britain’s team gold medal winning team at the London 2012 Olympic Games along with Brash and Skelton, this was his very first Nations Cup win. “It was a great day here in Dublin and what a crowd, they were very sporting!” Maher said.
The Dublin spectators came in for a lot of praise from the winning riders. The traditional British/Irish rivalry is always guaranteed to draw huge crowds and this year was no exception. Despite the fact that they had been hoping for a repeat home-side victory, the spectators roared their approval during the prize-giving ceremony and victory gallop. “We love this show, we love this trophy and we love this crowd!” said Chef d’Equipe Hoekstra. Nick Skelton agreed, “ I love to come to Dublin – it’s one of my favourite shows. I think the first time I came here was in 1973 as a Young Rider! It’s always great to win here – the people here love horses and they love the sport and that’s what makes it so special” he said.
All sights are now set on Barcelona and the inaugural Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Final in seven weeks’ time. A total of 18 nations will battle it out for the trophy at the Spanish fixture, and apart from the Europe Division 1 countries named today, the other nations already qualified are Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Japan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and USA, while Spain will also compete as host country.
Just two further rounds of the Europe Division 2 series have yet to take place, at Gijon, Spain on 30 August and Arezzo, Italy on 6 September.
For further information on the Irish fixture go to website www.dublinhorseshow.com or contact Press Officer Niamh Kelly, Tel + 353 86 3828531, Email firstname.lastname@example.org
The next leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping series is the penultimate round of the Europe Division 2 league and takes place at Gijon, Spain on Friday, 30 August. For information on the Spanish fixture check out website www.gijon.es/hipico or Email email@example.com
1. Great Britain 8 faults: Big Star (Nick Skelton) 4/0, Cella (Ben Maher) 4/0, Voila (Robert Smith) 8/8, Hello Sanctos (Scott Brash) 0/0.
2. Netherlands 12 faults: Tobalio (Albert Voorn) 0/0, Cerona (Hendrik-Jan Schuttert) 12/8, Wait and See (Michel Hendrix) 4/4, Primeval Dejavu (Gert Jan Bruggink) 0/4.
3. Ireland 16 faults: Loughview Lou-Lou (Dermott Lennon) 4/0, Balloon (Shane Breen) 8/8, Lansdowne (Conor Swail) 0/4, Blue Loyd (Cian O'Connor) 4/4.
3. USA 16 faults: Rothchild (McLain Ward) 0/4, Nougat du Vallet (Katie Dinan) 12/0, Blue Angel (Kent Farrington) 20/8, Cortes C (Beezie Madden) 0/0.
5. Germany 20 faults: Plot Blue (Marcus Ehning) 4/0, Cellagon Lambrasco (Janne Friederike Meyer) 8/4, Acorte (Rolf Moormann) 4/4, Bella Donna (Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum) 4/4.
5. France 20 faults: Nayana (Penelope Leprevost) 0/4, Myself de Breve (Marie Hecart) 8/4, Oh D'Eole (Michel Robert) 8/16, Estoy Aqui de Muze HDC (Kevin Staut) 4/0.
7. Ukraine 44 faults: Vivant (Cassio Rivetti) 0/0, SIEC Ledgepoint (Oleg Kraysuk) Elim/DNS, Verdi (Ulrich Kirchhoff) 12/8, Pour le Passage (Katharina Offel) 16/8.
8. Spain 61 faults: Zipper (Sergio Alvarez Moya) 0/Elim, Olala de Buissy (Eduardo Blanco) 31/24, Conington (Tariere Lopez-Fanjul) 12/9, Notre Star de la Nutria (Paola Amilibia) 8/8.
Facts and Figures:
Dublin, Ireland presented the last leg of the Europe Division 1 series of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2013 series.
4 of the eight competing nations were battling for qualifying points towards the inaugural Final which will take place at Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain from 26 to 29 September.
The four nations were Ireland, Great Britain, France and Ukraine.
The six nations that have qualified from Europe Division 1 are Switzerland, France, Great Britain, Netherlands, Ukraine and Ireland.
Course designer was Alan Wade, son of legendary Irish rider and former Irish Chef d'Equipe Tommy Wade.
4 double-clear performances in today's competition - from Great Britain's Scott Brash (Hello Sanctos), The Netherlands' Albert Voorn (Tobalio), America's Beezie Madden (Cortes C) and Ukraine's Cassio Rivetti (Vivant).
9 horse-and-rider combinations jumped clear in the first round, 10 jumped clear in round 2.
2 eliminations - Spain's Sergio Alvarez Moya for a fall from Zipper at the vertical fence 7 in the second round and Ukraine's Oleg Kraysuk and SIEC Ledgepoint for a fall at the second element of the preceding double.
FEI Jumping Director John Roche - “Congratulations to the British team for their fantastic performance. I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Royal Dublin Society for organising a great event at one of the most wonderful venues in the world, and to thank Furusiyya and Longines without whose help and support none of this would happen”.
British Chef d’Equipe Rob Hoekstra - “congratulations to Alan Wade (course designer). When we walked the course I thought it was big. There were a strange number of clears early on (in the competition) but as the second riders came along it levelled out”.
Robert Smith (GBR) - “for me this is the best place in the world to win!”
Shane Breen (IRL) talking about the host nation performance - “We are disappointed naturally that we didn’t win here today, but we all tried our best and it wasn’t our day. We’re really looking forward to the Finals now in Barcelona – I don’t know what the team will be there as we have the Europeans first, but we’ll keep trying!”
Michel Hendrix (NED) - “this is only the second time that I’ve been doing a Nations Cup. Two times I had the rail down at the end of the course, but still a great feeling to just come away with four faults in each round.”
Nick Skelton (GBR) when asked if it was another special moment in his extraordinary career to be on this winning team today - “Yes it was. It looked like we were heading for a jump-off but we got a break with them [NED] hitting one rail so all good in the end!”
McLain Ward (USA) talking about his team’s performance today - “I think for the most part we are feeling good - we would have liked to have had a little better finish. Today, my student Katie (Dinan) was a little green in the first round but made a great comeback in the second round with a clear. I lost a shoe in the second round early which was a little bit troublesome – but because we were already qualified for the finals in Barcelona we tried a few different combinations and I think we are showing a few solid horses and now we are going to try and pick the best ones and do the best we can in Barcelona!”