Trial and Tribulation Doesn't Prevent Italian Victory

Thursday, January 1, 1998
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Bucharest, Rumania 

Sunday, 30 August, 1998 

Contributed by Astrid Appels 

Italy celebrated a miraculous victory in Rumania, having only arrived at Bucharest the previous evening, two days into the event. The fact that they have now tied for third place in the Samsung Nations Cup rankings alongside Germany was considerable compensation following the frustrations and exhaustion experienced 'en route' to Eastern Europe. A marathon trek, across four frontiers, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and, finally, Rumania, "imprisoned" the horses in their lorries for three days. Vets not available to complete the routine cross-border documentation and border guards expecting payment for a clear passage were just two of the problems contributing to this Nations Cup adventure. Having finally arrived safely, although exhausted, an overnight thunderstorm produced extremely heavy going at the converted pitch, yet one more obstacle for already tired legs. Alas, determined Italian drive overcame adversity to finish ahead of the home team, by a hefty 16-fault margin. Rumania was, nonetheless, delighted with their second place ahead of Greece. 

Italy's taste for Nations Cup Finals was undoubtedly inspired by their first trip to the inaugural World Final in Spruce Meadows last year. The team has made sixteen appearances out of twenty-six events so far this season, second only to Germany who have contested 18 competitions, giving their lesser riders some extremely valuable experience along the way. This weekend, the Italians decided to forego Gijon in favor of Rotterdam and Rumania tactics that certainly paid off. Oleg Missikoff, and Vincenzo Chimirri produced the two most consistent performances for Italy, finishing with a total of four faults from each round. Only one rider managed a clear round throughout the whole competition Rumania's pathfinder Magda Isopescu, riding the eight-year old Hanoverian mare, Granada. Greece, meanwhile, found themselves floundering in Rumania's wake, albeit a long way ahead of Bulgaria who suffered two eliminations in the first round.

Positions at the top of the Samsung 'leading rider' and 'leading horse' rankings remain unchanged, with Holland's Jeroen Dubbeldam and his VL Groep de Sjiem hanging onto a three point lead from Italy's Guido Dominici and Friso. Over the next few weeks, as the 1997/98 Nations Cup circuit moves into the final stages, the battle for qualifying places for World Final in Donaueschingen (17-20 September), is likely to be extremely fierce, especially between the borderline teams such as Switzerland, Sweden, Brazil and Great Britain.

1. Italy (24 faults); Mario Verheiden/Tutto Cavallo; Oleg Missikoff/Rumenian Timonier; Giovanni Lucchetti/Quadrio; Vincenzo Chimirri/Kivi 

2. Rumania (40 faults); Magda Isopescu/Granada; Glad Iavorovechi/Agrestor de Florin; Radu Ilioi/Alberto de Florin; Stefan Stoica/Casdndro 

3. Greece (58 faults); George Frangojiannis/Izhar; Stayros Georgopoulos/Elen Berg; Christina Georgiou/Illusion; George Rossiadis/Altes d'Abraz

4. Bulgaria (135.75 faults); Pencev Vladco/Dinar; Lubenov Ivailo/Gotik; Dazinschi Trifon/Elen; Todorov Plamen/Dessa

Samsung Team Rankings:

1. France (34 points)

2. Holland (32 points)

3. TIE Germany/Italy (30 points)

5. Belgium (22 points) 

6. Ireland (21 points)

7. Austria (18 points)

8. TIE Switzerland/Sweden (16 points)

10. Brazil (15 points)