The horses and riders have arrived, and excitement is building ahead of the second edition of CSIO3* San Marino-Arezzo Horse Show which, this week, welcomes top riders from around the globe to the beautiful region of Tuscany in Italy for four fabulous days of international competition.
Last year’s renewal of CSIO San Marino at the popular Tuscan venue was a resounding success as it produced a week of super sport. Praised by all-comers, including FEI Jumping Director John Roche and showjumping stars Rodrigo Pessoa from Brazil and Sweden’s Rolf-Goran Bengtsson, it immediately re-established its credentials thanks to clear-cut collaboration between the National Federation of San Marino, the Organising Committee at Arezzo Equestrian Centre and the Luciano Pavarotti Foundation.
The 11-year time lapse since the CSIO was previously staged in Modena, home to the late, great Maestro Pavarotti, had left a lonely spot in the hearts of both Italian, and international, showjumpng. Its return at 3-Star level provided the perfect platform on which to build an even bigger event in future years, and the 2014 fixture looks set to be another cracker.
The focal points of the week are Friday’s leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ series and Sunday’s Fixdesign Grand Prix, and if last year’s results are anything to go by, then the team to look out for is the one from Brazil.
Last September, the Brazilians used Arezzo as their final warm-up for the Furusiyya Final in Barcelona, and they were on fire when coming out on top, before Pessoa went on to take the Grand Prix title.
They are back again this week, but they may not have it all their own way as 97 riders from 20 countries have their sights firmly set on success over the coming days. And they will have to battle it out with 12 other nations in Friday’s Nations Cup in which Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, , Poland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Venezuela will also be taking on the home side.
The pressure on the Italian team will be immense. After seven legs of the Europe Division 2 Furusiyya series, Italy lies second on the League table which is topped by Norway on a total of 345 points. But the Norwegians will not compete at this eighth and last qualifying round, so a win for the Italians, who have collected 270 so far, would provide them with an additional 100 points and rocket them up to the top of the leaderboard. This will guarantee promotion to the elite Europe Division 1 series in 2015, so it’s going to be a mighty contest, and there is a great deal riding on the result.
Denmark and Poland present the biggest threat to host nation hopes, lying close behind on 240 and 230 points respectively, while Finland carries 210 points. The only others country chasing points in Friday’s competition is Slovenia, but they are making their 2014 season debut at this event so even a win for them will not affect those battling for the two places available at the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Final in Barcelona, Spain next month. The Italians will be hoping to claim the first of these in order to relieve any further pressure ahead of next season’s return to the very top level of the sport. But the second-placed team on the 2014 leaderboard must finish in the top eight at the Spanish fixture to ensure promotion, and that’s not going to be easy to achieve.
An enormous weight will be resting on the shoulders of Italian squad members Piergiorgio Bucci, Daniele Augusto Da Rios, Lorenzo de Luca, Juan Carlos Garcia and Filippo Moyersoen when the action gets underway at 14.30 local time on Friday afternoon.
Last year’s Fixdesign Grand Prix came down to a 15-way jump-off against the clock in which multiple champion, Rodrigo Pessoa, once again kept the Brazilian flag flying high with victory partnering Citienguard Cadjanine Z, a mare he had only been riding for two months at the time. Pessoa does not return to defend his title this time around, but the Brazilian squad of Pedro de Andrade Costa, Karina Johannpeter, Yuri Mansur Guerios, Rodrigo Mesquita Marinho and Pedro Veniss still looks very strong and with plenty of big names, including reigning Olympic champion Steve Guerdat from Switzerland, in the mix, top quality of competition is well-assured.
There is great anticipation in the air as the link between a tiny Republic in the heart of Italy, a fantastic equestrian facility with a great management team, and a legendary operatic genius who had a deep devotion to the sport of showjumping, brings CSIO3* San Marino Arezzo alive once again tomorrow morning.
Official Website: www.csiosanmarinoarezzo.com