Dutch Get the Best Of The Draw In Rome

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Watch it LIVE on FEI TV - Coverage of the second leg of the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ series in Rome begins at 15.05 CEST on Friday 28th May.  Go to www.feitv.org for live coverage, event reports, highlights programmes and interviews.

Rob Ehrens' team from The Netherlands will be first into the ring in Rome tomorrow for the second leg of the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup™.  The draw took place at the Piazza di Siena this afternoon and was conducted by the FEI's First Vice President Sven Holmberg, Show Director Andreas Paulgross and Bosco Daniel, Director of Operations, Meydan. The order-of-go for tomorrow's competition is as follows :

1, The Netherlands; 2, Switzerland; 3, Ireland; 4, Spain; 5, Germany; 6, Great Britain; 7, USA; 8, Italy; 9, Poland; 10, France; 11, Sweden.

The Italian team is making a "guest appearance" in front of the home crowd as Italy is not qualified for the 10-nation Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ series in 2010, but they are expected to feature strongly.  The Swedish team, lying eighth on the leaderboard after the opening event at La Baule two weeks ago, received a significant boost when allocated the favourable last-to-go position on the start-list.

Leading the standings at this early stage of the eight-leg series which concludes at Dublin in August are the 2009 Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ title-holders from France, and today French Chef d'Equipe Laurent Elias talked about his hopes for the season.

"Last year, France was lucky enough to win the Meydan title"  he said. "During the winter I kept thinking that this year was going to be a particularly dangerous one as, for the first time, four teams are going to be relegated from the top-level series. I have talked a great deal with the team about the importance of being present in the Super League – it would be a serious error if we were relegated. I have told them that they all have to mobilise themselves. When we were relegated from the Super League three years ago, it was because not everybody mobilised themselves" he added.  The four-nation relegation prospect does indeed apply extra pressure this year and has been initiated in an effort to reduce the number of competing nations to eight for the 2011 season when two new teams will be promoted from the Promotional League.

Mr Elias is not allowing the first-round victory on home soil to go to his head. "The fact that we won in La Baule changes nothing: we have a job to do tomorrow – we need double-clear jumping rounds and all the riders are aware of that. We have seven legs of competition ahead of us and our objective is to allow ourselves a little comfort so that we don’t get relegated from the Meydan FEI series later" he pointed out.

He knows team spirit is good however.  Veteran Frenchman Michel Robert willingly came to the rescue when called into action just shortly before La Baule.  "Uniting our forces is a real collective aim. There is true cohesion among the French team members and that desire to fight as a team is one of our strengths. We will be working 200 per cent to win in Rome" he said.

The Experience
Like all the riders, officials, supporters and fans who have descended on the Italian capital city this week, Laurent Elias is thoroughly enjoying the experience. “The Roman site is very beautiful and everything is laid out for the comfort of the riders and their horses. There is something mythical about this place, which has hosted competitions for so long” he explained.  CSIO Rome this year celebrates its 78 years of classical competition.

His only major concern ahead of tomorrow's challenge is for the welfare of Simon Delestre's mare Melodie Ardente who suffered a hoof injury en route to the show.  Her fitness for tomorrow's competition will be further assessed later tonight.

Mr Bosco Daniel, Director of Operations for Meydan said today - "Meydan is very proud to once again be the title sponsor of the Meydan FEI Nations Cup™.  We are honoured to partner with the FEI in the promotion and development of equestrian sport and in nurturing young talent worldwide.  We look forward to a mutually rewarding partnership and to continued support for equestrian sport.  We wish all the riders the very best of luck tomorrow".

The action begins just after 3pm local time and you can catch it all LIVE on FEI TV - www.feitv.org

For further information on the Italian fixture go to website www.piazzadisiena.com or contact Press Officer Caterina Vagnozzi at Email: c.vagnozzi@gmail.com, Tel: + 39 335 6107070.

1.    France - 10
2.    USA - 7
3.    Germany - 5.5
3.    Great Britain - 5.5
5.    Spain - 4
6.    Ireland  - 3
7.    Switzerland - 2
8.    Sweden - 1
9.    Netherlands - 0
10.   Poland - 0

Facts and Figures:
- This is the 78th annual horse-show at the Piazza di Siena in Rome
- Italy holds the record for most wins at the Italian fixture - 27 in total since 1926.
- The venue is located at the Villa Borghese in the heart of Italy's capital city.  It is recognised as one of the most charming horse-show locations in the world.
- For the fourth consecutive year a special sand surface is laid in the main arena.  Technological advances ensure that the naturally undulating surface is levelled through the use of a laser.
- There is a 20cms height difference from the centre of the arena to the sidelines, and this guarantees excellent drainage in the event of heavy rainfall.
- Course designer for 2010 is, once again, Italy's Uliano Vezzani.
- The team from the USA won the Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ in Rome in 2009.
- A total of 11 nations will compete in Rome this Friday - the 10 teams included in the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ series along with the host country of Italy.

US Chef d'Equipe George Morris, when asked about his expectations for his team in tomorrow's competition in Rome - "You always hope for the best, but with horses you never know - this is not a predictable sport.  I have very good riders and a talented group of horses, including some new ones".

Meydan FEI Nations Cup™
A Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ event is organised as a five-star Nations Cup, i.e. a competition in which official teams representing nations compare their merit. At each event the teams gain points according to their placing. At the end of the 2010 season the team with the highest points wins the Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ and the four teams with the lowest points are relegated to the FEI Nations Cup series (Promotional League). Following the Promotional League Final, the two best placed teams from that series join the Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ for 2011.

The World’s Top 10 Teams: France, the USA, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, The Netherlands, Sweden, Great Britain, Spain and Poland.

The World’s Best Eight Venues: La Baule (FRA), Friday 14 May; Rome (ITA), Friday 28 May; St. Gallen (SUI), Friday 4 June; Rotterdam (Ned), Friday 18 June; Falsterbo (SWE), Friday 9 July; Aachen (GER), Thursday 15 July; Hickstead (GBR), Friday 30 July; Dublin (IRL), Friday 6 August.

The complete rules, latest news, results, standings and photos are on www.meydanfeinationscup.org

To learn more about the FEI go to www.fei.org

To learn more about Meydan, the title sponsor of the Meydan FEI Nations Cup, go to www.meydan.ae

Photo Caption: Mr Bosco Daniel, Director of Operations, Meydan pictured during the draw for the second leg of the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ in Rome, Italy today. Photo: CSIO Rome Press Office.