Fabulous French Make It A Double in Rome

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The French team forged further ahead on the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ leaderboard with a supremely confident second successive victory in Rome, Italy today.  In a contest that included the Italian team who were not challenging for points as they are ineligible for this year's Meydan series, it was the British who lined up second ahead of Ireland and Spain in equal-third.  Germany finished fifth ahead of the USA in sixth while Italy claimed seventh spot, Switzerland finished eighth and the Swedish team was ninth.  

Once again The Netherlands and Poland enjoyed a short afternoon as neither qualified for the second round of competition, and, in an alarming turn of events for the reigning World Champions from Holland, they are now languishing at the very bottom of the leaderboard along with the rookie Polish side and in grave danger of losing their elevated status as Meydan series contenders.

Course designer Uliano Vezzani was clear about what he was trying to achieve over his 12-fence track at the lovely Piazza di Siena showground. "I prefer athletes to make small faults rather than big crashes. The safety aspect was very important for me, first that of the horse, then that of the rider" he said before the competition, and the only real drama of the day was the unexpected first-round elimination of the star American partnership of Richard Spooner and Cristallo.

Principle Problem Areas
The principle problem-areas on the track were at the triple-combination at fence five and the line through the double at fence 10 - vertical to oxer - which was followed by a water-tray oxer at 11 before turning for home over the final 1.60m vertical.  The double was approached on an S-bend left-hand turn, and when Spooner asked his 12 year old Holsteiner for a massive stand-off here, Cristallo decided it wasn't going to work and slammed on the brakes, and he was still in no mood to take it on when requested to do so a second time so US faces were looking glum as the elimination showed on the scoreboard.

By the half-way point the formidable French were already sharing the lead with the surprising Spanish - both carrying just four faults - while it was a truly tight battle further down the order as Ireland, Switzerland, Germany, Great Britain and Sweden shared third place with eight faults apiece.  Italy had already clocked up 12, and the USA was lying in ninth place with a total of 16 after four-fault results for both Beezie Madden (Mademoiselle) and Mario Deslauriers (Urico) and eight for McLain Ward (Sapphire).

With 17 on the board the Dutch day was done, but Poland's learning curve is clearly continuing.  Pathfinder Andrzej Lemanski produced a superb clear jumping round with the powerful 11 year old Castiglione, collecting just a single time penalty.  However two 12-fault results and eight from Krzysztof Ludwiczak (Torado) proved too costly and they sat it out with the team from The Netherlands as round two got underway.  

Spirited Recovery

The Americans made a spirited recovery led by a brilliant clear this time out for Spooner and Cristallo who jumped the infamous double without even blinking and the USA finished on a total of 20 faults.  The Italians added 12 more to complete on 24, the Swiss lost their grip on joint-third spot when adding 20 to their tally but the Irish held firm thanks to clears from both Cameron Hanley (Southwind VDL) and Cian O'Connor (K Club Lady) and were always going to be in the running when adding just four from anchorman Billy Twomey with Tinka's Serenade.

Janne-Fredericke Meyer (Cellagon Lambrasco) produced one of just three double-clears to help her team to a 16-fault finishing score but the British really rose to the occasion when Nick Skelton (Carlo), Peter Charles (Murka's Pom d'Ami) and the veteran John Whitaker (Peppermill) all returned clean score-sheets this time out.

The Swedish team struggled in round two but put one more hard-fought point on the leaderboard while the Spanish couldn't maintain the pressure on the French in the closing stages and dropped to equal-third.  Such was the supremacy of the winning side that when Penelope Leprevost (Mylord Carthago), Kevin Staut (Silvana) and Nicolas Delmotte (Luccianno) made it all look a little elementary second time out then Patrice Deleveau (Katchina Mail) didn't need to return to the ring for a second time.

Top of Our Sport
Reigning European champion Kevin Staut put it in context when he said afterwards "we really are at the top of our sport in France right now and I'm really proud to ride in this French team.  We are full of new hopes and new dreams and we have come out this season knowing that four teams will go down from the Meydan series and so we are fully organised from the very beginning".  He complimented the course designers work - "Mr Vezzani thinks always about the welfare of the horses, he doesn't punish them but he still gets great results, that's the measure of a good course designer" he said.  And he was particularly pleased with his mare Silvana who picked up just four faults on her Nations Cup debut.

Staut's team manager, Laurent Elias said of his country's double of wins, "it not down to chance, a lot of hard work has gone into achieving these performances, including the work of the French Federation.  And we also have a great horse-breeding culture in France - we have excellent horses" he added.

The next stop is St Gallen in Switzerland next week and with the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ already nearing the halfway point it is already getting serious.  In a bizarre turn of events the European champions from Switzerland and the World Champions from The Netherlands are within the danger-zone of the last four places on the leaderboard along with Sweden and Poland.  All four nations will be hoping to made amends for that in seven days' time.  

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.  The NEXT leg takes place at St Gallen in Switzerland on Friday 4th June.  For all information on the Swiss fixture go to website www.csio.ch or contact Press Officer Peter Wyrsch at peter.wyrsch@sportinformation.ch

RESULT:
1.  France 4 faults - Mylord Carthago (Penelope Leprevost) 0/0, Silvana (Kevin Staut) 4/0, Luccianno (Nicolas Demotte) 8/0, Katchina Mail (Patrice Deleveau) 0/DNS.
2.  Great Britain 8 faults - Carlo (Nick Skelton) 4/0, Murka's Pom D'Ami (Peter Charles) 0/4, robin Hood W (Ben Maher) 4/0, Peppermill (John Whitaker) 4/0.
Equal 3. Ireland 12 faults- Southwind VDL (Cameron Hanley) 8/0, Obelix (Darragh Kenny) 4/8, K Club Lady (Cian O'Connor) 4/0, Tinka's Serenade (Billy Twomey) 8/4.
Equal 3. Spain 12 faults - Herald (Pilar Cordon) 0/0, Jarnac (Julio Arias Cueva) 0/4, Lord du Mont Milon (Jesus Garmendia Echevarria) 4/4, Julia des Brumes (Ricardo Jurado) 8/8.
5.  Germany 16 faults - Cellagon Lambrasco (Janne-Friederike Meyer) 0/0, Coeur de Lion (Max Kuhner) 8/12, Lassen Peak (Rebecca Golasch) 8/0, Souvenir (Philipp Weisaupt) 0/8.
6.  USA 20 faults - Cristallo (Richard Spooner) Elim/0, Mdemoiselle (Beezie Madden) 4/0, Urico (Mario Deslauriers) 4/4, Sapphire (McLain Ward) 8/4.
7.  Italy 24 faults - Aboyeur W (Gianni Govoni) 0/, Landzeu (Giuseppe D'Onofrio) 4/4, SNAI American Blu van Eeklelec (Gabriele Grassi) 8/4, SNAI Seldana di Campalto (Natale Chiaudani) 8/4.
8.  Switzerland 28 faults - Cantus (Niklaus Schurtenberger) 0/12, Zekina Z (Jane Richard) 8/8, Uptown Boy (Janika Sprunger) 4/8, Ulysse X (Pius Schwizer) 4/4.
9.  Sweden 32 faults - Lunatic (Jens Fredricson) 4/4, H&M Actrice (Malin Baryard-Johnsson) 8/8, Glory Days (Daniel Zetterman) 0/12, Bukowskis Erbblum (Helena Lundback) 4/Ret.
10. The Netherlands 17 faults in FIRST round - VDL Groep Utascha (Eric van der Vleuten) 0, VDL Groep Santana B (Leopold Van Asten) 9, Uraya (Albert Zoer) 12, Tyson (Leon Thijssen) 8.
11.  Poland 21 faults in FIRST round - Castiglione L (Andrzej Lemanski) 1, Just Cruising (Jan Chrzanowski) 12, Torado 2 (Krzysztof Ludwiczak) 8, Alekandra Lusina (Ekwador) 12.

2010 MEYDAN FEI NATIONS CUP™ - STANDINGS AFTER ROUND 2 IN ROME:
1.  France - 20
2.  Great Britain - 12.5
3.  USA - 10
4.  Germany - 9.5
5.  Spain - 9.5
6.  Ireland - 8.5
7.  Switzerland - 4
8.  Sweden - 2
9.  The Netherlands - 0
10. Poland - 0

Facts and Figures:
- This was the 19th victory for the French team in the 78-year history of the Rome Nations Cup.
- This was the second successive victory for the French team in the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ series.
- 11 teams competed including the host nation which, however, was not eligible for points in the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ series.
- 9 teams went through to the second round, and once again it was both Poland and The Netherlands that did not make the cut.
- There were three double-clears in today's competition - from French pathfinders Penelope Leprevost and Mylord Carthago, Spain's Pilar Cordon and Herald and Germany's Janne-Friederike Meyer with Cellagon Lambrasco.
- There was one elimination - the USA's Richard Spooner and Cristallo in the first round.  However they returned to jump clear in round two.

Quotes:
Show Director Antonio Govannoni:  "Competing in a team is not easy: riders sometimes have to sacrifice their individual competition strategy, but at the same time they have the possibility of other riders helping them to achieve the desired result."
Course Designer Uliano Vezzani talking about the course before the competition began:  "It is not too big but it’s technical".
Mr. Bosco, Head of Operation, Meydan: "I would like to thank the Organising Committee and the FEI for the very warm welcome we have received here. Everything was very well organised. I would also like the thank the course designer, Uliano Vezzani, for showing us around and explaining the course to us: it gives a whole new understanding of the competition.  France did very well at La Baule and have again given an amazing performance here. We wish all the competitors good luck for the rest of the Meydan FEI Nations Cup."
Sven Holmberg, FEI First Vice-President - "This is the 78th Nations Cup that has taken place in Rome. Italy is one of the most prestigious countries in the equestrian world and I’m sure the Italian team will bounce back. The French were perfect – lining up clears as they did in the second round was really impressive and I can only congratulate them".

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:  The French team made it a back-to-back double of wins in the Meydan FEI Nations Cup in Rome today - back row, left to right - Patrice Deleveau, Penelope Leprevost, Kevin Staut and Nicolas Delmotte - front row, left to right - Mr Bosco Daniel, Director of Operations, Meydan, French Chef d'Equipe Laurent Elias and Sven Holmberg, FEI First Vice-President.




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