Great Britain won the fourth and last leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage 2013 pilot series at Hickstead today. But they had to settle for third place, behind Sweden, in the final rankings as The Netherlands claimed the series title. Germany finished on the same final scoreline as the British at the end of this trial season, but a double of wins gave today’s host nation the nod for third place on the final leaderboard. The British were pushed hard by a highly competitive US side whose combined score left them less than one point in arrears this afternoon, while Germany finished almost two points further adrift. The Dutch team slotted into fourth ahead of Sweden in fifth, while France, Ireland and Spain, each fielding only three-strong sides, finished in sixth, seventh and eighth places respectively.
The FEI Nations Cup™ pilot series has been staged over four events beginning with CDIO 3* Vidauban in France last May where the Dutch came out on top. At CDIO 5* Rotterdam in The Netherlands in June the British achieved their first victory but a week later it was the host-side German squad that took the top step of the podium at CDIO 5* Aachen. The first three venues took the option to stage a Grand Prix competition as part of this trial FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage season, but CDIO 3* Hickstead opted for a Freestyle competition to bring the test series to a close, and there were some very high-quality performances at this final event.
The strength of the American challenge was clearly demonstrated when Kathleen Raine (Breanna), Guenter Seidel (Coral Reef Wylea) and Shelly Francis (Doktor) lined up in third, fourth and fifth places individually. Raine achieved a score of 75.650 and Seidel racked up 75.625 as his big chestnut horse showed some lovely work to the strains of his Neil Diamond musical score. Francis posted 74.500, and with a combined total of 75.258 percent the Americans gave the eventual winners a real run for their money.
The German challenge was boosted by a great score of 77.750 from Jenny Lang and Loverboy who really pleased the Ground Jury panel of Isabel Wessels (GBR), Marion Cunningham (PER), Stephen Clarke (GBR), Karin Kruger (DEN) and Peter Holler (GER). Team-mates Johanna von Fircks (Nymphenburgs Rockport) and Matthias Kempkes (Riccoletto) both scored 71.025 to leave the German tally at 73.267 percent.
“I’m really, really happy and it has been a great pleasure riding here in Hickstead!” Lang said. Today’s result comes just a few weeks after she made a significant impact with her horse on home soil at Aachen.
“I love the Freestyle, and with Loverboy I finished second in the Freestyle in the CDI at Aachen with a score of 76 percent. Today we did even better with 77.750, so I’m really excited! Loverboy is a great showman, he lights up when he goes into the ring. Today has been my very first Nations Cup and I have to say it has been great fun and altogether a great experience” she added.
The biggest Dutch score of the day came from Katja Gevers and Thriller who registered 74.325 for sixth place individually. Lotje Schoots and Ruby earned a mark of 68.250, Joyce Heutinik and Wup scored 68.050 and Laurens van Lieren posted 72.025.
The British result was clinched by the best performance of the day from London 2012 Olympic Games team gold medallist Carl Hester who was the unanimous choice of all five members of the Ground Jury as he showed fabulous passage and piaffe along with wonderful trot extension on his way to earning 81.650 with Uthopia.
The British effort kicked off with 69.700 from Nikki Crisp and Pasoa followed by 72.650 from Michael Eilberg and Marakof and 74.250 from Gareth Hughes with DV Stenjkers Nadonna. Hughes was on the winning team in Rotterdam alongside Hester and Olympic individual and team gold medallist Charlotte Dujardin who competed this weekend at Hickstead with Valegro, pipping her friend and mentor Hester in both the Grand Prix on Friday and in Saturday’s Grand Prix Special. However the golden duo were not part of today’s winning side.
Hughes was delighted to contribute to another British win, and said “I think the series is a fantastic idea. It gives so many more riders the opportunity to compete. Nations Cup competition has been a big thing for the jumpers for a very long time, it’s great for us to have it in Dressage now, I think it’s a big step up for the sport”.
Hester, meanwhile, was thrilled by the performance of Uthopia. “It was like being back in the good old days of 2010, I don’t know what happened because he was hot as hell, but he felt like a million dollars! I had a fab ride, it was a great boost for us both. I hadn’t ridden him since the Olympics really and now I’m seriously looking forward to the Europeans in Herning. This has put us both in the right frame of mind” he explained.
Talking about the concept of Nations Cup Dressage he continued, “from a team perspective this kind of competition can only be good. You see it everywhere - when it comes to Championships and big events we tend to mostly find all the same old faces competing, but this series can give other riders the chance to fly the flag and I believe it will help to raise the standard all round. A lot of riders don’t get the chance to experience team pressure - this kind of competition will expose them to it and it’s great learning for them” he said.
He pointed out that while he enjoys riding Freestyle, he has some reservations about using it as part of a Nations Cup series however. “I think we need to use the Grand Prix rather than the Freestyle so that’s it’s more of a level playing field for everyone. But this has been a great trial season, and the Nations Cup series is a great idea” he said.
The Netherlands won the series with a final score of 36 points with Sweden close behind in second with a final tally of 33. Both Great Britain and Germany collected 29 points each, but, in accordance with the rules, the British are awarded third place due to their double of wins.
1. Great Britain 76.183: Pasoa (Nikki Crisp) 69.700, Marakof (Michael Eilberg) 72.650, DV Stenjkers Nadonna (Gareth Hughes) 74.250, Uthopia (Carl Hester) 81.650.
2. USA 75.258: Alina (Arlene Page) 69.200, Breanna (Kathleen Raine) 75.650, Doktor (Shelly Francis) 74.500, Coral Reef Wylea (Guenter Seidel) 75.625.
3. Germany 73.267: Darjeeling (Stephan Koberle) 70.100, Nymphenburgs Rockport (Johanna von Fircks) 71.025, Riccoletto (Matthias Kempkes) 71.025, Loverboy (Jenny Lang) 77.750.
4. Netherlands 71.867: Ruby (Lotje Schoots) 69.250, Wup (Joyce Heuitink) 68.050, Ulysses La Haya (Laurens van Lieren) 72.025, Thriller (Katja Gevers) 74.325.
5. Sweden 71.425: Paridon Magi (Caroline Darcourt) 70.225, Winnie B (Natalie Oldfors) 68.800, Triviant (Charlotte Haid Bondergaard) 70.800, Charming Boy (Sofie Lexner) 73.250.
6. France 68.450: Paradieszauber (Catherine Henriquet) 64.075, Mistral du Coussol (Alizee Froment) 70.200, Luciano (Julia Chevanne) 71.075/
7. Ireland 68.050: Reve d'Or (Kate Dwyer) 64.775, Sydney (Dane Rawlins) 68.450, Pompidou (Roland Tong) 70.925.
8. Spain 64.175: Deco BCN (Agusti Elias) 64.475, Gumiel (Diana Ostariz) 66.025, Hierro C (Lauro Aguilo) 62.025.
Detailed results here
Facts and Figures:
- The Netherlands have won the pilot season FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage series 2013.
- Hickstead, Great Britain staged the fourth and final leg today.
- 8 teams competed in this final leg.
- The best three teams scores counted for the results, and 5 teams fielded four riders, while three teams had just three team-members.
- Great Britain's Carl Hester produced the highest individual result when scoring 81.650 with his London 2012 Olympic Games team gold medal winning ride Uthopia.
- The Ground Jury at Hickstead today was : at E, Isabel Wessels (GBR), At H, Marion Cunningham (PER), At C, Stephen Clarke (GBR), At M, Karin Kruger (DEN) and at B, Peter Holler (GER).
- The first three legs of the series consisted of Grand Prix competition. Today's final leg was Freestyle.
- The four venues for the pilot season of the FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage series were Vidauban (FRA) on 16 May, Rotterdam (NED) on 20 June, Aachen (GER) on 27 June and today's leg at Hickstead (GBR).
- The Netherlands were victorious at the opening round and the British won at both Rotterdam and Hickstead while Germany came out on top on home ground at Aachen.
Standings: After round 4 at Hickstead (GBR):
1. Netherlands - 36 points
2. Sweden - 33 points
3. Great Britain - 29 points.