They had to settle for runner-up spot at the first two legs of the FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Europe Division 2 series, but last night at the third round in Lisbon, Portugal, a hugely impressive Belgian side clinched victory by a significant margin.
Finishing with just four faults on the board, and without having to call up their last-line partnership Nicola Philippaerts (23) and Chilli Will for a second time, they had a 17-fault advantage over the runners-up from Spain while France finished third with 24 faults and Portugal and Ireland tied for fourth on 25 faults apiece. Belgium now heads the Division 2 leaderboard with a massive 280 points while Great Britain lies second with 195.
The combination of course designer Bernardo Costa Cabral’s clever track and the challenge of jumping under floodlights in the second round ensured it was an interesting evening at Lisbon’s elegant Jockey Club where the stadium was packed with enthusiastic spectators.
“This show is fantastic! It was my first time in Lisbon and I enjoyed very much jumping here. It was the first time I jumped under floodlights and I really enjoyed that too!” Fabienne Daigneaux Lange BEL
Clears from Philippaerts, Constant van Paesschen (23) with Carlow van de Helle, and Fabienne Daigneux Lange (53) with Venue d’Fees des Hazalles put the Belgians out in front on a zero score at the halfway stage, but the Spanish were close behind with just four on the board. A total of nine teams lined out in the first round, and when just eight returned in round two it was the Korean side that missed out after picking up 29 faults.
Spain added 17 faults second time out despite a lovely double-clear from pathfinders Diego Perez Bilbao and HH Best, but when Van Paesschen and Daigneux Lange were also foot-perfect in both rounds the Belgians were all but untouchable, and Verlooy’s second single error with Caracas was all they would count at the end of the day.
The Belgians intend to make great use of their time in Division 2 with a busy campaign over the seven-leg series which now moves on to a new venue at Uggerhalne in Denmark next Saturday.
1. Belgium - 4 faults
2. Spain - 21 faults
3. France - 24 faults