British To Show the Way On Home Turf at Hickstead

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The host nation is unfazed by being drawn first to go in the penultimate leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ 2012 series at Hickstead (GBR) tomorrow afternoon.  A week ahead of the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games the British are in bullish form, and Chef d’Equipe, Rob Hoekstra, said today “I am not really concerned by starting first, the riders I brought have ridden here many times and they know what they’re doing. It’s brilliant to be at Hickstead a week prior the start of the Games - riding in front of your home crowd is a great test“ he added.

The order-of-go for the seventh leg of the series is : 1, Great Britain; 2, Netherlands; 3, Germany; 4, Ireland; 5, Sweden; 6, France; 7, Belgium; 8, Switzerland.

Experienced
The British contingent is indeed an experienced one, and includes Peter Charles who will fly the Union Jack at Greenwich Park when the Olympic Jumping competition gets underway on 8 August.  He has been selected for the Games with Vindicat, but will line out tomorrow with Nevada.  Joining him in tomorrow’s team will be Tina Fletcher, riding the Olympic reserve horse Hello Sailor, and of course no side at Hickstead ever seems quite complete unless a member of the legendary Whitaker family is included.  John Whitaker, who has enjoyed many famous days at the Sussex venue, will partner Argento while William Funnell rounds up the team with Billy Angelo.

Great Britain lies sixth on the leaderboard at this late stage of the series, trailed by Belgium and Ireland in the bottom two places. Niels Bruynseels (Conisha van de Helle), Maurice van Roesbroeck (Dylano), Rik Hemeryck (Quarco de Karembars) and Dominique Hendrix (Poer van de Waterhinghoeve) will be hoping to improve Belgian prospects, and the Irish too will be looking for a good result.

Chef d’Equipe Robert Splaine has drafted in two US-based Irishmen for tomorrow’s clash.  Darragh Kerins will ride Lisona, the 11 year mare with which he was runner-up in the FEI World Cup™ Jumping qualifier in Florida (USA) in February and which was bred by a man with a long link to Hickstead - triple Derby champion Comdt John Ledingham - so that may augur well.  Richie Moloney has also been making a big impression on the US circuit and will partner Ahorn van de Zuuthoeve, while Clem McMahon rides the talented Pacino and pathfinder will be Tipperary man Shane Breen who has already gotten off to a flying start with a win and a second-place finish earlier today at the venue he now calls home.

Strong Side
The Netherlands lies fifth on the league table going into tomorrow’s contest, and Rob Ehrens has chosen a strong side in which Leon Thijssen (Tyson) will lead the way followed by Albert Zoer (Sam), Hendrik-Jan Schuttert (Cerona) and Albert Voorn (Tobalio).  The Dutch Chef d’Equipe said this afternoon - “Hickstead is a great show and has improved so much over the last few years.  They have really increased the standards, and we are very proud to be here”.

Douglas Lindelow (Odermus), Angelie von Essen (Carrento Ztar), Daniel Zetterman (Glory Days) and Helena Persson (Chamonix) will be hoping to bolster Sweden’s fourth-place position on the league table, but they will need to have a really good day to overwhelm the third-placed French.  With Eugenie Angot (Old Chap Tame), Kevin Staut (Reveur de Heurtebise), Aymeric de Ponnat (Armitage Boy) and Penelope Leprevost (Topinambour) on form, France looks very strong indeed.

The Swiss have clearly shown that they are back where they belong since recovering from a period in the relegation zone before re-qualifying for the Top League series again this season.  In second spot going into the closing phase of the 2012 series they are looking very comfortable, but while Claudia Gisler (Touchable) and Simone Wettstein (Cash and Go) have experience in Top Level Nations Cup Jumping, Marc Oertly (Tamira) and Andreas Ott (Rox) are relatively less-tested so they will hoping to make the right impression.

Defending Champions
The Germans come into tomorrow’s competition as defending champions at the British venue and they are taking it very seriously indeed with a strong side, although Chef d’Equipe Sonke Sonksen said today - “we will still need a bit of luck!”.  Pathfinder is London-bound Philip Weishaupt who will partner Catoki instead of his Olympic horse Monte Bellini, and he will be followed by Holger Wulschner (Cefalo) who joined him on the victorious Hickstead team in 2011.  Ludger Beerbaum (Chiara) will go third, and last into the ring will be Marco Kutscher (Cornet Obolensky).  Germany heads Switzerland at the top of the FEI Nations Cup™ 2012 leaderboard by a 10.5 point margin as the action gets underway tomorrow.

The records show that Germany has taken the Nations Cup of Great Britain on 11 occasions since it was first held in 1947, including three times in the last four years.  But the host nation will be looking to keep the Edward Prince of Wales trophy at home, as a good omen ahead of the forthcoming Olympic challenge.  They have won it 31 times over the last 64 years, most recently in 2010, and Charles, Fletcher and Funnell were all on that winning side two years ago.  It won’t be given up easily tomorrow....

For further information on the seventh leg of the 2012 FEI Nations Cup™ series at Hickstead (GBR) on Friday 20 July check out website at www.hickstead.co.uk or contact Press Officer Victoria Spicer at Email press@hickstead.co.uk , Tel: +4478 1111 3185

FEI Nations Cup™ 2012 - Standings after Round 6 at Falsterbo (SWE):
1.  Germany  -  41
2.  Switzerland -  30.5
3.  France  -  30
4.  Sweden  -  28
5.  Netherlands  -  27.5
6.  Great Britain  -  27
7.  Belgium -  25
8.  Ireland -  19 

Facts and Figures:
Hickstead (GBR) presents the seventh round of the eight-leg FEI Nations Cup™ 2012 series.
The defending champions are Germany, winners of the Nations Cup of Great Britain on 11 occasions.
Peter Charles, Tina Fletcher and William Funnell all competed on the winning British side at Hickstead in 2010.
Great Britain has won the Edward Prince of Wales Cup 31 times since 1947.
Germany heads the FEI Nations Cup™ leaderboard by a margin of 10.5 points going into tomorrow's competition.
Dublin, Ireland will host the last leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ 2012 series in four weeks' time.

Photo Caption :  FEI Commercial Manager Nathalie Taylor (left) and Show Director John Farmer (right) at the draw for the starting order in tomorrow’s seventh leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ 2012 series at Hickstead (GBR).  Photo: FEI/Lotte Stevens.

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