Dutch Victorious in Opening Leg of Pilot Season for FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage at Vidauban

The Netherlands emerged victorious at the opening leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage pilot season at Vidauban, France yesterday.  Pictured on the podium are Katja Gevers, Laurens van Lieren and Stephanie Peters with trainer, Wim Ernes. (Photo: FEI/Rui Pedro Godinho)
The Netherlands emerged victorious at the opening leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage pilot season at Vidauban, France yesterday. Pictured on the podium are Katja Gevers, Laurens van Lieren and Stephanie Peters with trainer, Wim Ernes. (Photo: FEI/Rui Pedro Godinho)

The Netherlands emerged victorious as the pilot season for the FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage 2013 series got underway at Domain Equestre de Grands Pins in Vidauban, France yesterday. Sweden finished second at this opening event, with the host nation of France in third and Switzerland slotting into fourth place. Great Britain sent just three riders, but their chances ended before the competition even began when Sarah Millis’ HP Frontier did not pass the first Horse Inspection, leaving just four countries to battle it out in the final analysis. The Dutch showed their strength when, with only three in their side, they overcame a strong challenge from the full Swedish team that included star riders Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven and Minna Telde.

Best Score of the Day
It was Vilhelmson-Silfven who produced the best score of day when posting 70.532 with the 11-year-old gelding, Divertimento. But Holland’s Laurens van Lieren and his 10-year-old mare, Hexagon’s Welnetta, were only 0.15 marks behind in second place individually, and when this good result was added to 69.234 from team-mate Stephanie Peters with Unlimited, and 67.255 from Katja Gevers and Thriller, then the Dutch had the edge with a winning margin of 0.404 at the end of the day. Only three of the four results count toward each team total.

Minna Telde’s 69.787 with Don Charly was good enough for third individually, and the 66.149 racked up by Jeanne Hogberg and Liza Minelli completed the Swedish tally as Caroline Darcourt’s 65.447 with Paridon Magi provided the discount score.  As winning team member, Laurens van Lieren, said afterwards, “there was a combination of strong riders as well as young riders getting experience here today, so that made for a great competition”.
The French foursome of Claire Gosselin (Karamel de Lauture), Arnaud Serre (Robinson da Lafont), Catherine Henriquet (Paradieszauber) and Jacques Albeck (Collin) slotted into third when the combined totals of the first three came to 198.255. 
The Swiss were less than three points further in arrears when filling fourth and last spot, Hans Staub (Warbeau), Melanie Hofmann (GB Cazzago C CH) and Elisabeth Eversfield-Koch (Rokoko N) totalling 195.598 as the 63.511 awarded to Gilles Ngovan  and Solid Brown was their discount score.
Very Close
“We finished very close with Sweden” Van Lieren said, “and with just three on our team that put a lot of pressure on our last rider. Katja was first to go and did a really good job with 67.255. We didn’t know what to expect from her, but she won the “Future Test” which is a Grand Prix for Young Riders in Holland.  She won at ‘s-Hertogenbosch with over 70 per cent, so she was selected for the team here. She is inexperienced at international level, but she did really well.
Stephanie and I are more experienced” he continued. “Stephanie was our last rider to go in and she knew she needed to get 68 per cent, but I reckoned she would be just fine. She had one small mistake in the second passage, and we expected a bigger score for her, but she got 69.234 and it was even more exciting because we had to rely on just the three of us. There was nowhere to hide!” Van Lierens pointed out.
He added that, while the Swedes might have been expected to win, “we were convinced we could do it!”
Now Dutch coach, Wim Ernes, will decide who will make the team for the home event at Rotterdam (NED) on 20 June. “I would love to be on the team there” Van Lierens said today, “but Wim will want to send our strongest side so we will see”.
The pilot series takes place over four events, also visiting Aachen, Germany on 27 June and finally Hickstead, Great Britain on 4 August. CDIO 3* Vidauban, CDIO 5 Rotterdam and CDIO 5* Aachen all took the option to stage a Grand Prix competition as part of this trial FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage season, while CDIO 3* Hickstead has chosen to stage a Freestyle to Music competition to bring the test series to a close.
1. The Netherlands, 206.872 - Hexagon's Welnetta (Laurens van Lieren) 70.383, Unlimited (Stephanie Peters) 69.234, Thriller (Katja Gevers) 67.255.
2. Sweden, 206.468 - Divertimento (Tinne Vilhelmson Silfven) 70.532, Don Charly (Minna Telde) 69.787, Liza Minelli (Jeanne Hogberg) 66.149, Paridon Magi (Caroline Darcourt) 65.447.
3. France, 198.255 - Karamel de Lauture (Claire Gosselin) 68.234, Robinson de Lafont (Arnaud Serre) 65.915, Paradieszauber (Catherine Henriquet) 64.106, Collin (Jacques Albeck) 62.000.
4. Switzerland, 195.958 - Warbeau (Hans Staub) 67.277, GB Cazzago C CH (Melanie Hofmann) 65.064, Rokoko N (Elisabeth Eversfield-Koch) 63.617, Solid Brown (Gilles Ngovan) 63.511.
The FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage is a new FEI series open to national teams. The inaugural trial season, taking place between May and August 2013, consists of four outdoor CDIO events held at Vidauban (FRA), Rotterdam (NED), Aachen (GER) and Hickstead (GBR). Each FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage fixture must host either a Grand Prix or Grand Prix Freestyle competition in which the teams can earn points towards the FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage Standings. Each event is of equal standing and all four competitions count towards the final result.
A minimum of four teams will take part in each event for the event to count for the series standings. A team consists of a minimum of three and maximum of four athlete/horse combinations. There is no maximum limit to the number of FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage events in which athletes and horses can take part.
This pilot project has been initiated in an effort to assess the attractiveness of this type of event to organisers, athletes, National Federations, spectators, the media and potential sponsors. If there is a positive evaluation at the conclusion of the 2013 season, then an official long-term series may be created.
The series detailed calendar, complete rules, and organisers details are available here.