Team France completed their points-gathering campaign in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2014 series today with a superb victory at the fifth leg of the Europe Division 1 League in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. But they had to fight hard for those maximum points which have now earned them a qualifying spot for the much-anticipated second annual Furusiyya Final which will take place in Barcelona, Spain in October.
The host nation pushed them all the way, forcing a jump-off against the clock and keeping the packed stadium of spectators, including former Queen of The Netherlands, Princess Beatrix, on the edges of their seats. The dream of a long-awaited home victory was snatched away at the last moment however when Gerco Schroder and Glock’s London couldn’t match Penelope Leprevost’s clear in the jump-off with Flora de Mariposa.
It was a tension-filled afternoon, with much riding on the result in terms of qualification for five of the eight competing nations. France, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland and The Netherlands were all in the hunt for points, and it was the last chance for both France and Switzerland who have now used all four qualifying opportunities. The French have been strong all season, coming into today’s contest at the head of the Europe Division 1 series, but sixth place for Switzerland today may have left them vulnerable.
There were surprises all the way, with Germany fielding a powerhouse of a team for their first points-gathering outing but having to settle for third place ahead of Great Britain in fourth and Brazil in fifth, while the Irish trailed the Swiss when slotting into seventh and the USA filled eighth place.
Going To Test Them
The track built by Spanish course designer, Santiago Varela, was always going to test them. This, after all, is the man who was widely praised for the quality of the courses he presented for the thrilling inaugural Furusiyya Final at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona last September, and he gave them a flavour of what they might expect when the Final returns to the Spanish venue in October this year with a course that required accuracy, speed and clear decision-making about stride distances.
Early on the track riders had to navigate around the small copse of trees that traditionally stand within the Rotterdam arena in order to get to fence three. But some didn’t get the flow of the turn quite right here while others tried to angle the fence in order to pick up some time on the run to the following water, and as a result the blue-and-white oxer regularly hit the floor.
First man into the ring, Ireland’s Denis Lynch, blotted an otherwise perfect run when his easy-jumping 10-year-old mare Coulisa spooked at the water and got her feet wet, and she wouldn’t be the only one.
And there was little time to recover before the following oxer at five which led on to a big 1.60m vertical at six before turning right-handed to the double at fence seven. Another swing to the right brought them to the 1.50m oxer at eight and the water-tray oxer at nine before circling back to the brightly-coloured triple combination which took a significant toll. There were two strides between the first two vertical elements here and then one stride to the oxer on the way out before taking a dog-leg line to the penultimate orange planks. This fence proved highly influential, especially in the second round, while the final oxer also played its part.
On Home Ground
Team manager Rob Ehrens was very much hoping for success this year, because in his 10-year tenure with the Dutch team they have not won on home ground. And at the halfway point it seemed that his dream might just come true when his side led the way on a zero score. But Switzerland, Germany, France and Brazil were only a fence behind, carrying four faults each while the British were on 12 and the Irish and Americans on 13.
As round two evolved however many of the leading nations wilted under pressure, and the Swiss completely lost their grip when adding 16 to their tally. The Brazilians also disappeared from the reckoning despite a brilliant double-clear from Yuri Mansur Guerios and First Devision and that allowed the British to move up the order when Joe Clee and Utamaro D’Ecaussaine also returned with a second clean sheet, Spencer Roe recovered from a shaky first round to go clear this time out with Wonder Why and newcomer, Jessie Drea, followed her opening clear with just a single mistake at the very last fence with Touchable.
Germany meanwhile seemed in with a chance of making it into a jump-off if Ludger Beerbaum’s second-round nine-fault result with Chiara could be negated by clears from both Daniel Deusser (Cornet D’Amour) and Marcus Ehning (Cornado NRW) after four faults from Christian Ahlmann and Codex One at the 1.60m vertical at fence six. Deusser, winner of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping title just two months ago, came up trumps, but Ehning fell victim to the penultimate planks like so many others in the second round, and with a final tally of 12 the Germans would have to settle for third place.
French Chances Rattled
And so it came down to a battle between the French and Dutch, although French chances were rattled when Leprevost’s second clear was followed by elimination for Patrice Delaveau when Carinjo HDC, foot-perfect first time out, paddled through the third element of the triple combination and fell with his rider. Horse and rider left the arena unscathed however and the Frenchman said afterwards ““he rode really well in the first round, so I am really unsure about what happened. I think he got a bit spooky just before the triple combination, a pole fell between his hooves and he lost his focus. These things can happen but the horse is fine, he might be a bit stiff tomorrow but he’s fine.”
A clear from the reigning European individual gold medal winning partnership of Roger Yves Bost and Castle Forbes Myrtille Paulois steading the French situation however and that meant that Kevin Staut’s single error with Reveur de Hurtebise HDC at the second element of the double at seven brought left them on a two-round total of eight.
Dutch anchorman, Gerco Schroder, had no choice to be clear if he was to force a jump-off now as both Jeroen Dubbeldam (Zenith SFN) and Maikel van der Vleuten (VDL Groep Verdi) had collected four faults while Harrie Smolders didn’t return to the ring with Emerald after they collected 17 faults first time out. Despite all the pressure, Schroder produced the required result with the utmost of ease and a two-way jump-off would follow.
Leprevost was first to go, and her nerve never wavered. Asked afterwards what she had planned before going first against the clock, she replied “I didn’t have a plan, I just trusted my mare and she goes naturally very fast and she’s very careful. I just went in and let her do her usual great job!” Setting the target with a clear in 34.57 seconds, she then sat back while Schroder stepped up to the line.
You could hear a pin drop as the man who took individual silver with this same horse at the London 2012 Olympic Games returned for the third and last time, but when the second fence, previously the first element of the double, hit the floor it was all over and it would be France on the top step of the podium.
Reflecting afterwards, Leprevost said, “we have had a great season - two victories and one second place for the French team!” And she was elated about the performance of Flora de Mariposa today. “I am very lucky to have such fantastic horses this year and today Flora was unbelievable! We bought her when she was a seven-year-old and now she is nine so I have been riding her for two years. The first time she jumped a really big track was in Rome (last month) where she jumped double-clear in the Nations Cup and then finished tenth in the Grand Prix. I’m so happy with her!” she said.
Talking about the course today she said “it was technical and the time was quite tight. At the triple combination you had to turn short in order to make the time and some horses didn’t have balance and were not collected there which meant the poles came down”.
When asked if it was more difficult jumping in the first or second round today, Kevin Staut replied “actually, it was about the same. There was lots of pressure on our shoulders, five teams were competing for points here in Rotterdam and the results were pretty close, so the tension was very high during the whole competition.”
With only seven of the 10 competing nations making the cut to the Final from the Europe Division 1 League, the tension is indeed increasing with every leg of the series. But the French don’t have to worry anymore. They’ve done more than enough to qualify for the Furusiyya Final and, as defending champions, it seems unlikely they will give up their crown too easily.
Chef d’Equipe, Philippe Guerdat said “I am very proud of this victory” adding, “and I would also like to congratulate the home team on their results and also say that today France managed to take its revenge against the Netherlands who took a win away from France at La Baule last year - so now we’re even!”
For further information on round 13 of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2014 series at Rotterdam, The Netherlands go to website www.chio.nl or contact Press Officer Anita Lussenberg, Email email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel +31(0)621585878. The next leg of the Europe Division 1 series will take place in Falsterbo, Sweden on Friday 11 July. For all information on the Swedish fixture go to website www.falsterbohorseshow.com or contact Press Officer Malin Fredriksson, Email email@example.com.
1. France 8 faults/0 in 34.57 in Jump-Off: Flora de Mariposa (Penelope Leprevost) 4/0/0, Carinjo HDC (Patrice Delaveau) 0/Elim, Castle Forbes Myrtille Paulois (Roger Yves Bost) 4/0, Reveur de Hurtebise HDC (Kevin Staut) 0/4.
2. Netherlands 8 faults/4 in Jump-Off: Zenith (Jeroen Dubbeldam) 0/4, VDL Groep Verdi (Maikel van der Vleuten) 0/4, Emerald (Harrie Smolders) 17/DNS, Glock's London (Gerco Schroder) 0/0/Ret.
3. Germany 12 faults: Chiara (Ludger Beerbaum) 4/9, Codex One (Christian Ahlmann) 0/4, Cornet d'Amour (Daniel Deusser) 5/0, Cornado NRW (Marcus Ehning) 0/4.
4. Great Britain 16 faults: Utamaro D'Ecaussines (Joe Clee) 0/0, Wonder Why (Spencer Roe) 12/0, Touchable (Jessie Drea) 0/4, Zaire (Guy Williams) 26/9.
5. Brazil 17 faults: Ad Uutje (Doda de Miranda) 8/8, First Devision (Yuri Mansur Guerios) 0/0, Quintol (Eduardo Menezes) 0/9, Status (Rodrigo Pessoa) 4/5.
6. Switzerland 20 faults: Castlefield Eclipse (Paul Estermann) 0/11, Pablo de Virton (Jane Richard Philips) 4/4, Quorida de Treho (Romain Duguet) 4/8, Toulago (Pius Schwizer) 0/4.
7. Ireland 26 faults: Coulisa (Denis Lynch) 4/16, Antello Z (Cameron Hanley) 5/5, Quidam's Cherie (Cian O'Connor) 4/4, Loughview Lou-Lou (Dermott Lennon) 8/4.
8. USA 27 faults: Barron (Lucy Davis) 4/4, Vindicat W (Jessica Springsteen) 8/12, Nougat du Vallet (Katherine Dinan) 1/6, Ohlala (Lauren Hough) 8/4.
Facts and Figures:
Rotterdam, The Netherlands presented the fifth leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Europe Division 1 League today.
The competition was won by the French team after a two-way jump-off between Penelope Leprevost (Flora de Mariposa) from France and The Netherlands' Gerco Schroder (Glock's London).
8 nations competed - Brazil, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Netherlands, Switzerland and USA.
5 nations were competing for points towards the Furusiyya FEI Nation Cup™ Jumping Final 2014 - France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands and Switzerland.
Course designer today was Spain's Santiago Varela who also designed the tracks at the hugely successful inaugural Furusiyya Final in Barcelona, Spain in 2013.
The time-allowed over the 12-fence course was 82 seconds.
There were three double-clear performances over the first two rounds - from The Netherlands' Gerco Schroder (Glock's London), Great Britain's Joe Clee (Utamaro D'Ecaussines) and Brazil's Yuri Mansur Guerios (First Devision).
The USA fielded the only all-female team of riders - Lucy Davis (Barron), Jessica Springsteen (Vindicat W), Katie Dinan (Nougat du Vallet) and Lauren Hough (Ohlala).
Santiago Varela, course designer : “The riders were asked to find solutions during the first round to handle the long distances and then find the balance for the horses in the second round.”
Philippe Guerdat, Chef d’Equipe FRA when asked about the choice of Leprevost for the jump-off: “Penelope’s mare is very fast and since she won’t be competing in the Grand Prix on Sunday, it was an easy decision to make.”
Penelope Leprevost, FRA: “Now I look forward to doing my best for the WEG, and the horse I will choose for that is Flora”.
Standings after Round 5 of Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Europe Division 1 League 2014 at Rottedam (NED):
1. France - 345
2. Switzerland - 280
3. Belgium - 220
4. Spain - 202.5
5. Netherlands - 180
6. Germany - 160
7. Sweden - 130
7. Ireland - 30
9. Ukraine - 120
10. Great Britain - 70