Swiss To Set The Pace in Rotterdam

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The Swiss team will be first to test the track set by Louis Konickx when the fourth leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ 2012 gets underway at the Kralingsbos in Rotterdam, The Netherlands tomorrow afternoon.  The Dutch course designer is recognised for his innovation and style, and the eight competing nations can expect a strong challenge as the eight-leg series moves to the halfway stage.

The order-of-go for the competition which begins at 16.00 local time is as follows:

1, Switzerland; 2, The Netherlands; 3, France; 4, Great Britain; 5, Germany; 6, Belgium; 7, Sweden; 8, Ireland.

The British hold the record for most wins in the Dutch Nations Cup - 14 in total since it was first held in 1948.  But the Germans are close behind, with 13 victories including their latest success in 2011, and they could well draw level with the British tomorrow afternoon.

Top-Class Selection
German Chef d’Equipe, Otto Becker, has brought yet another top-class selection of riders to the Dutch fixture and will choose his team later tonight.  With three members of his side that came out on top in Rome (ITA) last month - Ludger Beerbaum, Marcus Ehning and Marco Kutscher - along with Carsten-Otto Nagel and Philipp Weishaupt, it looks like it’s going to take something special to keep the Germans off the top step of the podium once again.

The Dutch however are on a high after their success in St Gallen (SUI) three weeks ago and, as the London Olympic Games draw ever-closer, Chef d’Equipe Rob Ehrens knows how good it feels to see his riders hit real form.  In particular, Gerco Schroder is right at the top of his game, and he will be joined by Jur Vrieling, Maikel van der Vleuten and Jeroen Dubbeldam as the host nation attempts to claim the honours on home turf for only the eighth time in the 64-year history of this event.

The Dutch are leading the FEI Nations Cup™ 2012 league table after three legs have taken place, but their advantage is only a slim one as they lie just 0.5 points ahead of Belgium and Germany who are carrying 20 points each.  Belgian Chef d’Equipe, Philippe Guerdat, will choose from Rik Hemeryck, Jos Lansink, James Peeters, Ludo Philippaerts and Maurice Van Roosbroeck for tomorrow’s crucial clash.

Relief
Switzerland lies fourth on the league table, and Swiss Chef d’Equipe, Urs Groenig, talked today about the difficulties his country faced following relegation in 2010, and the relief of being back at the sharp end again.

“It’s not so very funny to be in the Promotional League after you’ve been in the Top League!” he said. “It’s very hard to work your way back up again - there are a whole lot of good nations out there who are trying to get to the top level, but we did it and we are very happy to be back!” he pointed out.  Asked about the biggest challenges his team faced during their time in the Promotional League he added, “there was a lot of travelling - from Finland to Portugal is a long way!  But we were determined -  if you really want to get there then you just have to knuckle down and do it” he explained.

The Swiss team manager has Claudia Gisler, Steve Guerdat, Niklaus Rutschi and Janika Sprunger on call-up along with Paul Estermann who has rocketed himself into team contention following some highly-impressive performances in recent months.

Holding Fire
British Chef d’Equipe, Rob Hoekstra, is also holding fire on his selection until later tonight but with Scott Brash, Peter Charles, Tina Fletcher, Tim Stockdale and John Whitaker on his list he has plenty of strength and experience to choose from. With the London Olympic Games looming large, he talked a little about the site at Greenwich Park which he described as “spectacular!”

He said, “I believe you will see something you have never seen before and you will be very pleased.  The venue is very beautiful - you can see the whole of the city of London from the grandstand, and I can promise you that everyone will receive a very warm welcome!”.

The British lie fifth on the FEI Nations Cup™ 2012 league table after the first three rounds, with a four-point lead over sixth-placed Sweden whose Chef d’Equipe, Sylve Soderstrand, has already made up his mind about who he will send out tomorrow.  It’s going to be a really strong line-up, with Malin Baryard-Johnsson, Rolf-Goran Bengtsson, Henrik Von Eckermann and Jens Fredricson in action, and with the second-last-to-go starting spot they are well poised to put pressure on the rest.  The Swedes have also only just returned to the Top League of Nations Cup jumping following a period in the second division, and team manager Soderstrand said “we are very happy to be back!  You are not only one level down when you are in the Promotional League - it’s a whole different planet to be on!” he insisted.  And he added, “to stay at their best, riders need to be at all these good shows and  competing against all these great riders”.

Last Two Places
The last two places on the series table are currently occupied by France and Ireland, and French team manager, Henk Nooren, admitted today that he’s not terribly happy about his side’s performances to date.  “For sure our results so far have been disappointing from all points of view - thank god the Games are not happening today and that they are still six weeks away!” he said.  He knows he has a wealth of talent in his side on an ongoing basis - this week he has Eugenie Angot, Patrice Delaveau, Simon Delestre, Penelope Leprevost and Kevin Staut on call-up.   But somehow the results in the FEI Nations Cup™ 2012 have not been there - “in the end it’s up to the riders to come up to fore and do what they have to do” he declared in a determined tone.

The Irish are lying last of all, but team manager Robert Splaine has another talented crew with him this week and he will be hoping they can get it right this time out and make some improvement to their position.

Denis Lynch is only just back in action after breaking a rib in a fall during a prize-giving ceremony at La Baule in early May, and he is joined at the Dutch fixture by Shane Breen, Jessica Kuerten, Clement McMahon and Cian O’Connor.  Lynch, who along with Billy Twomey helped acquire one of Ireland’s two individual places for the London Games, admitted today that he is still feeling the effect of the broken rib, but with the Games on the horizon he is determined to get back to business.

As the business day begins at CHIO Rotterdam tomorrow there is a lot hanging in the balance - not just team positions on the FEI Nations Cup™ 2012 leaderboard, but hopes and dreams of Olympic selection......don’t miss a hoofbeat....watch it all LIVE on FEITV.... www.feitv.org

For further information on the fourth leg of the 2012 FEI Nations Cup™ series in Rotterdam go to website www.chio.nl or contact Press Officer Anita Lussenburg, Email press@chio.nl, Tel +31 (0) 621585878.

FEI Nations Cup™ 2012 - Standings after Round 3 at St Gallen:
1.    The Netherlands  -  20.5
2.    Belgium  -  20.0
3.    Germany  -  20.0
4.    Switzerland  -  16.5
5.    Great Britain -  13.0
6.    Sweden -  9.0
7.    France -  8.0
8.    Ireland -  7.0

Facts and Figures:
CHIO Rotterdam presents the fourth leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ 2012 series.
The event takes place at the Kralingsbos, a beautiful public park in the heart of The Netherlands' most modern city which is widely renowned for staging top-class international and sporting events as well as for the importance of its port.
Originally a fishing village, the name of the city is derived from "Dam in the River Rotte".
The Netherlands holds a slender 0.5 point lead over Belgium going into tomorrow's fourth leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ 2012 series.
The Dutch fixture brings the FEI Nations Cup™ 2012 series to the halfway stage - four further legs will take place at Aachen (GER) 3-8 July: Falsterbo (SWE) 12-15 July; Hickstead (GBR) 19-22 July and Dublin (IRL) 15-19 August.
The Dutch come into the fourth round on home ground in flying form after winning Round 3 at St Gallen, Switzerland three weeks ago.
Belgium won the opening leg at La Baule (FRA) and Germany topped the line-up at the second leg in Rome (ITA) last month.
Course designer at Rotterdam is Louis Konickx.
Great Britain holds the record for most wins in the Dutch Nations Cup - 14 in total.
The defending champions are Germany who have notched up 13 victories and could draw level with the British on the Dutch Nations Cup winner's leaderboard if they can come out on top again tomorrow.

Quote: Irish Chef d’Equipe, Robert Splaine, when asked about the footing in the arena at CHIO Rotterdam - “I’ve ridden here on grass, and if it was wet the footing was poor but today, with the sand arena, Rotterdam can cater for any eventuality - it’s good enough to host a Championship in my opinion”.

Photo Caption :  FEI Commercial Manager, Frederique Martin-Baste (right) and Emile Hendryckx, Sports Director for CHIO Rotterdam (left) officiated at the draw for the starting order of teams in tomorrow’s fourth leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ 2012 series in Rotterdam (NED).  Also pictured in the background are British Chef d’Equipe Rob Hoeksktra, French Chef d’Equipe Henk Nooren, Dutch Chef d’Equipe Rob Ehrens, Irish Chef d’Equipe Robert Splaine and Swiss Chef d’Equipe Urs Groenig.  Photo: FEI/Remco Veurink Photography.

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