It was a case of "mission accomplished" for the German team at Falsterbo, Sweden today when they won the fourth leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ 2011 and consequently rocketed up the series leaderboard to third place. In a thrilling competition that saw the defending double-champions share runner-up spot with the host nation as, at last, the pendulum of good fortune began to swing back in the direction of the French, the Dutch had to settle for fourth ahead of the Irish in fifth while the USA clinched sixth place.
The withdrawal of Tim Stockdale and Fresh Direct Kalico Bay left the British vulnerable in the second round and in seventh at the end of the day despite otherwise consistently good performances. And while the Belgians finished eighth with a big score of 47 faults on an afternoon they will probably not care to remember, it was an even more difficult day for the Danes who finished last and are now so far behind at the bottom of the league table that it seems nothing can save them from relegation in their debut season of top-level Nations Cup jumping. Punished in the first round by the elimination of anchorman Thomas Velin who seemed at odds with his long-time ride Godsend du Reverdy, their chances were completely crushed when Tina Lund's Qrispy D Ive Z simply refused to take part in the second round.
The Germans and Swedes were in the lead on level pegging with just four faults apiece at the end of the round one, followed closely by the Irish carrying eight and then the French with 12, the Dutch with 13, the USA with 15 and the British with 16 faults on the board. Denmark and Belgium were already trailing the field with 25 and 27 faults respectively, the 34 faults collected by last-line-rider Jan Vinckier (Ursela) seriously compromising Belgian chances. But to say he was unfortunate second time out would be a complete understatement. The triple combination - vertical, oxer, vertical - at fence eight was the bogey of the day, but Ursela had lowered only the previous oxer before she slipped on landing over the second element of the treble and slid to a stop in front of the third. Persistent rain throughout the opening round had necessitated the movement of some fences to better ground, but it still proved increasingly challenging as the competition progressed.
At the sharp end however, Marco Kutscher's second clear with Cash bolstered Germany's chances, while Malin Baryard-Johnsson and H&M Tornesch matched that to keep the host country in the frame. Germany looked to have lost the advantage when Thomas Voss and Carinjo 9 returned with one down, but Sweden's Angelika Augustsson left two on the floor at the end of the course with the fizzy mare Mic Mac du Tillard, the 24 year old rider having to steer her way home without stirrups over the final three fences after an awkward moment following the big open water. So when Germany's third-line partnership of Carsten-Otto Nagel and the lovely grey mare Corradina jumped clear there was huge pressure on Sweden's Peder Fredricson, and the gods were not smiling on him. Like Vinckier and Ursela they jumped into the triple combination only to slip after the second element and, despite completing their round, their 10 penalties proved much too expensive. German anchorman, Ludger Beerbaum, did not have to return to the ring with Gotha as, despite a fabulous double-clear from Sweden's Olympic silver medal winning duo Rolf-Goran Bengtsson and Ninja la Silla, the Swedes had to settle for joint-second with the French.
Sense of Relief
For French Chef d'Equipe, Henk Nooren, and his team of Penelope Leprevost (Topinambour), Simon Delestre (Napoli du Ry), Kevin Staut (Silvana de Hus) and Michel Robert (Kellemoi de Pepita) there was a sense of relief that at last their run of bad luck has come to an end, and today's result has moved them a little further away from the danger-zone at the bottom of the leaderboard. But they are only 2.5 points ahead of the Americans who lie second-last, with only the Danes behind them at this halfway stage of the series. Despite a fabulous first-round clear from Christine McCrea and Romantovich Take One and a second-round clean sheet from Charlie Jayne and Athena, the US completed with 23 faults.
The Irish were well-pleased at the end of the day having sent out a team of completely new horses, and a rider who was making her debut at this level of the sport. Nicola FitzGibbon proved the wisdom of Robert Splaine's selection however when the 23 year old lowered only one fence over two classy rounds with her great gelding Puissance. The Dutch, double-winners at Rome and St Gallen, survived a bad day for Albert Zoer and Sam to still complete with a relatively low scoreline. Team manager, Rob Ehrens, will be hoping to pick up where he left off when the eight competing nations arrive in Aachen (GER) for the notoriously tough fifth leg of the series next Thursday evening.
For Germany however, today's result leaves them in a much more comfortable position ahead of their home fixture. "This has been a big result for us" said Chef d'Equipe Heinrich Hermann Engemann this evening. "We needed the points to go up the rankings, because it is absolutely key for us to stay in this Top League. We are really happy to have won here with the weather conditions - it's a really good sign for us ahead of Aachen" he pointed out, adding that Nagel and Beerbaum with join Marcus Ehning and Christian Ahlmann on his team for next week.
The ground played a significant role in today's competition. It has always been part of the Nations Cup tradition that horses and riders prove tough enough to cope with whatever nature has in store for them, and the German horses did so admirably. "I had a very good feeling with my horse" said Marco Kutscher who produced one of the three double-clear performances of the day. "Cash's experience was very much needed considering the conditions we had to ride in today. The ground in particular wasn't perfect, but he handled it really well" he added.
And for Sweden, today was also an important day. Relegated from the Top League at the end of last season, the Swedes have been working hard to re-qualify through the Promotional League series which they are currently leading due to a number of excellent performances. They want nothing more than to be back at the top end of this sport and truly enjoyed their guest appearance at top level this afternoon. "I'm really satisfied after today" said Swedish Chef d'Equipe Sylve Soderstrand. They didn't earn any FEI Nations Cup™ points, but the Swedes proved what they wanted to prove - that sthey are on their way back.....
For further information on the fourth leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ 2011 go to website www.falsterbohorseshow.se or contact Press Officer Malin Fredriksson at Tel: +46 (0) 702 924679 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The next leg of the series takes place in Aachen (GER) next Thursday evening, 14 July. For further information on the German fixture go to website www.chioaachen.de or contact Press Officer Niels Knippertz at Tel.: +49 (0)241 - 9171- 182, E-mail: email@example.com
1. Germany 8 faults: Cash (Marco Kutscher) 0/0, Carinjo (Thomas Voss)15/4, Corradina (Carsten-Otto Nagel) 4/0, Gotha (Ludger Beerbaum) 0/NS.
2. France 12 faults: Topinambour (Penelope Leprevost) 4/8, Napoli du Ry (Simon Delestre) 4/0, Silvana de Hus (Kevin Staut) 4/0, Kellemoi de Pepita (Michel Robert) 4/0.
2. Sweden 12 faults: H&M Tornesch (Main Baryard-Johnsson) 4/0, Mic Mac du Tillard (Angelica Augustsson) 0/8, H&M Arctic Aurora Borealis (Peder Fredricson) 8/10, Ninja la Silla (Rolf-Goran Bengtsson) 0/0.
4. Netherlands 13 faults: Van Schijndel's Rascin (Piet Raymakers Jr) 0/0, VDL Groep Verdi (Maikel van der Vleuten) 1/0, Sam (Albert Zoer) 16/8, Tyson (Leon Thijssen) 12/0.
5. Ireland 16 faults: Cos I Can (Shane Breen) 4/4, Lord Luis (Denis Lynch) 0/8, Puissance (Nicola FitzGibbon) 4/0, Splendor (Cian O'Connor) 4/4.
6. USA 23 faults: Athena (Charlie Jayne) 8/0, Springtime (Saer Coulter) 8/4, Nemo (Lucy Davis) 7/4, Romantovich Take One (Christine McCrea) 0/8.
7. Great Britain 28 faults: Fresh Direct Kalico Bay (Tim Stockdale) 19/NS, USA Today (Robert Whitaker) 4/4, Sultan V (Bruce Menzies) 4/4, Murka's Nevada (Peter Charles) 8/4.
8. Belgium 47 faults: Nasa (Niels Bruynseels) 12/8, Euphony Cadjanine Z (Patrick Spits) 4/8, Waldo (Jerome Guery) 11/4, Ursela (Jan Vinckier) 34/Elim.
9. Denmark 49 faults: Alcamo Vogt (Torben Frandsen) 5/4, Coronada (Christian Schou) 12/12, Qrispy D'Ive Z (Tina Lund) 8/Ret, Godsend du Reverdy (Thomas Velin) Elim/8.
Facts and Figures:
9 teams competed today as the host nation of Sweden, currently competing in the Promotional League series, joined the eight countries vying for the 2011 FEI Nations Cup™ title.
The Falsterbo leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ 2011 brings the series to the halfway stage.
Three double-clear performances - Cash (Marco Kutscher) GER, Ninja la Silla (Rolf-Goran Bengtsson) SWE and Van Schijndel's rascin (Piet Raymakers Jr) NED.
10 horse-and-rider combinations produced a single clear round.
2 Eliminations - Ursela (Jan Vinckier) BEL in second round and Godsend du Reverdy (Thomas Velin) DEN in first round.
1 retirement - Qrispy D Ive Z (Tina Lund) DEN when the horse refused to cooperate in the second round.
The anchor partnership of Ludger Beerbaum and Gotha only jumped in the first round - Germany already won the competition when third-line rider Carsten-Otto Nagel produced a second-round clear with Corradina.
British pathfinder Tim Stockdale did not line out in the second round after a disappointing first effort from Fresh Direct Kalico Bay.
Heinrich Hermann Engemann, German Chef d'Equipe - "we were under a lot of pressure coming here today - we really needed points".
Sylve Soderstrand, Swedish Chef d'Equipe - "the team we have here today may be the Swedish team for the European Championships later in the year".
Swedish rider Angelika Augustsson - "I lost my stirrups after the water and I had to jump the last three fences without them - but I've practiced a lot without stirrups, so it was no problem!"
FEI Nations Cup 2011 - Standings after Round 4 at Falsterbo (SWE):
1. Netherlands - 29.5
2. Ireland - 24.0
3. Germany - 21.0
4. Belgium - 20.0
5. Great Britain - 19.0
6. France - 18.0
7. USA - 15.5
8. Denmark - 5.0
The FEI Nations Cup™ is a five-star 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 2011 season the team with the highest points wins the FEI Nations Cup™ and the two teams with the lowest points will be relegated to the FEI Nations Cup Promotional League. The highest placed team from the 2011 FEI Nations Cup Promotional League Final and the highest placed Team on the FEI European Nations Cup Promotional League standings immediately prior to the 2011 FEI Nations Cup Promotional League Final will join the FEI Nations Cup™ Top League for 2012.
FEI Nations Cup™ 2011 Calendar:
La Baule (FRA), Friday 13 May; Rome (ITA), Friday 27 May; St Gallen (SUI), Friday 3 June; Falsterbo (SWE), Friday 8 July; Aachen (GER), Thursday 14 July; Hickstead (GBR), Friday 29 July; Dublin (IRL); Friday 5 August.; Rotterdam (NED), Friday 26 August.
FEI TV: enjoy LIVE programming, highlights, interviews and archive footage at www.feitv.org
Photo Caption: The German team of Carsten Otto Nagel, Thomas Voss, Marco Kutscher and Ludger Beerbaum pictured with Chef d'Equipe Heinrich Hermann Engemann after winning today's fourth leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ 2011 at Falsterbo, Sweden. Photo: FEI/Lotta Gyllensten.