Spain First To Go In St. Gallen

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FEI TV - LIVE coverage from the third leg of the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ at St Gallen begins at 13.25 CEST.  Go to www.feitv.org

Heavy overnight rain, and further downpours this morning, resulted in the cancellation of jumping events at the Grundenmoos Arena in St Gallen, Switzerland today.  However the weather has now improved significantly, and the third leg of the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ will go ahead as scheduled tomorrow afternoon beginning at 13.30 local time when the team from Spain will be first into the ring.

The draw was made this evening, and the order-of-go for tomorrow's competition is as follows:  1, Spain; 2, France; 3, Switzerland; 4, Poland; 5, Ireland; 6, The Netherlands; 7, Great Britain; 8, USA; 9, Germany; 10, Sweden.

Strong Lead
Holding a strong lead after a superb double of victories over the first two legs of the series at La Baule (FRA), and Rome (ITA), are the 2009 champions from France.  Their record in the Swiss Nations Cup is impressive.  They won the inaugural competition which took place in Lucerne in 1927 and they have come out on top on 11 more occasions over the intervening 83 years.

The reigning individual European Champion, Kevin Staut of France, said last Friday that the French team this year are "full of new hopes and new dreams".  But he also said that the riders, their Chef d'Equipe Laurent Elias and the French Federation are all fully aware of the dangers presented by the format for the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup ™.  In order to reduce the line-up to eight nations once more in 2011, four of the 10 countries will be relegated after the final leg which takes place in Dublin, Ireland in early August while two new teams will be upgraded following the Promotional League Final at Barcelona in September.

That has really increased the pressure on every country from the very beginning of their 2010 nations cup campaigns, and has already created some thrilling competition because every nation wants to remain in the series again next year.  That's not possible however, and with Switzerland lying seventh on the Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ leaderboard going into tomorrow's competition the host country's Chef d'Equipe, Rolf Grass, is taking no chances and has selected a super-strong squad that includes Steve Guerdat, Beat Mandli, Daniel Etter and World No. 1 Pius Schwizer.  The Swiss are the reigning European team champions and their record on their home turf is a good one, but they have been beaten into second place for the last four years, and it is now 10 years since they claimed their own Nations Cup at Lucerne in 2000.  "This time we are going out to win - we have come second too many times over the last few years and we want to put a stop to that!" said Mr Grass today.

Danger Zone
Also lying in the danger-zone going into tomorrow's competition are Sweden, The Netherlands who were the winners here last year, and Poland - one of the two new teams to join the series this year.  Polish riders have demonstrated great potential, flair and courage so far this season while the other newcomers to the Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ in 2010 - the impressive Spanish team which is currently lying fifth - have shown themselves more than equal to the challenge.

As Polish Chef d'Equipe, Rudi Wassibauer, explained today his team is simply "happy to be here!  We don't have many horses or riders to choose from, but we are really enjoying the experience of competing in the top level and I hope we can finish the season in a good way" he said.  The USA's team manager, George Morris, paid the highest of compliments to the Polish effort during this evening's draw press conference.  "I've great admiration for the Polish team - they are giving it everything they've got, and they have great riders and lovely horses" he pointed out.

It's been quite a surprise to find the Swiss and the reigning World Champions from The Netherlands lounging at the lower-end of the league table after the first two legs, but Dutch Chef d'Equipe Rob Ehrens was in typically upbeat mood today.  Asked if he was worried about the prospects for his side this season he replied that he didn't feel under great pressure because "I've come here with a very good team and I'm feeling very confident".  

For further information on the Swiss fixture at St Gallen go to website www.csio.ch or contact Press Officer Peter Wyrsch at (Email) peter.wyrsch@sportinformation.ch, (mobile) Tel: + 41 79406 5207.

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:
The first Swiss Nations Cup took place in Lucerne in 1927
The Dutch team are the defending champions.
Switzerland has been beaten into second place in the last four Swiss Nations Cup competitions.
The last Swiss victory on home ground was in Lucerne in 2000.
Germany holds the record for the greatest number of wins in the Swiss Nations Cup - German teams have claimed the trophy on 20 occasions.

Quotes:
John Roche, FEI Director Jumping:  "The partnership between Meydan and the FEI is a strong one, and I'm sure Chenelle van Schalkwyk, Meydan's Sponsorship and Site Coordinator joins me in wishing all the teams the very best ahead of tomorrow's competition and for the rest of the series.  Good luck and good sport to you all tomorrow!"
Peter Stoessel, President CSIO Schweiz St Gallen: "The weather forecast for tomorrow is good and I believe we can look forward to a day of wonderful sport".

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: Pictured during this evening's draw for order-of-go in tomorrow's third leg of the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ series in St Gallen, Switzerland were (L to R): Peter Stoessel, President CSIO Schweiz St Gallen, Chenelle van Schalkwyk, Meydan's Sponsorship and Site Coordinator and John Roche, FEI Director Jumping.  Photo: Valeria Streun.




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