The Ukraine has won the FEI Nations Cup European Promotional League 2012 title, after finishing fourth at Gijon in Spain at the weekend.
Thirteen countries – Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Ukraine and the USA – lined out for the FEI Nations Cup at this 70th anniversary fixture in the coastal town located on the far north of the Iberian Peninsula, and it was a hard-fought affair.
Out in front going into this last leg, the Ukrainian team of Cassio Rivetti, Fereno Szentirmai, Bjorn Nagel and Katharina Offel pinned their nearest rivals from Denmark into runner-up spot on the series table, while Italy finished the season in third ahead of Spain in fourth.
The Italian team enjoyed an encouraging day when, leading the competition at the halfway stage, they dropped just one place to slot in behind the winners from France. But their 17-fault second-round result was indicative of the toughness of the high-scoring class which produced plenty of surprises. There were no double-clears throughout the entire competition, and only six single clear rounds from the starting field of 52 horse-and-rider combinations.
The leading FEI European Promotional League contenders from Ukraine, Denmark, Italy and Spain had to take on the might of many of the top-league nations, and the Danes were in with a chance of taking the title if they could clinch the maximum 10 points.
However a 21-fault result in the opening round from Soren Pedersen (Tailormade Esperanza de Rebel), Emilie Martinsen (Caballero), Charlotte Von Ronne (Cartani) and Thomas Sandgaard (Amarone) put paid to their chances, although, as contenders for the FEI Promotional League title, they still went through to round two along with Italy at the head of affairs carrying just two time penalties, France on a total of five, The Ukraine with 12 and Canada and Great Britain with 13 apiece.
The Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Portugal, Germany and USA didn’t make the cut, the latter three hampered by eliminations for Antonio Matos Almeida (Shining Star), Marc Bettinger (Quannan) and Katie Dinan (Nougat de Vallet) respectively. And the Irish, winners at the last two legs of the top-level FEI Nations Cup series at Hickstead (GBR) and Dublin (IRL) in recent weeks, collected a massive 52 first-round faults before anchorman Conor Swail (Lansdowne) retired.
The Italians lost their grip on the lead when pathfinder Lucia Vizzini (Loro Piana Quinta Roo) and achorman Natale Chiaudani (Fixdesign Almero) both left a fence on the floor while Luca Marziani (Wivina) collected nine faults for a final total of 17 – Roberto Arioldi’s 13 with Loro Piana Lagerfeld providing the discount score this time out.
And this opened the door for the French, who already had the win in the bag when Penelope Leprevost (Mylord Carthago) and Marie Hecart (Myself de Breve) each picked up just four faults and Kevin Staut (Reveur de Hurtebise) went clear, leaving Aymeric de Ponnat (Armitages Boy) surplus to requirements as their final total of 12 was good enough for victory.
The British added 16 more to complete with 29, while The Ukraine added 21 to finish with 33 on the board. It was a serious slide for The Ukrainians in the second round when Rivetti (Temple Road) and Offel (Vivant) both held firm with just a single error each, but the 13 registered by Nagel (Niack de L’Abbaye) had to be included after a 16-fault effort from second-line rider Ferenc Szentirmai (Nifrane de Kreisker). But they still managed to keep the Danes at bay when their nearest rivals for the FEI European Promotional League 2012 title added 14 more faults to their scoreline to finish two points in arrears.
Spain slotted into sixth place when obliged to include the 17 collected by anchorman Manuel Anon (Rackel Chavannaise) after Carlos Catalan Casanovas (Carlos) retired. Paola Amilibia (Prunella D’Ariel) produced a great second-round clear, but with the eight from opener Pilar Cordon (Nuage Bleu) to be taken into account their closing score was 38.
The Canadians crumbled when Jonathan Asselin, who had picked up just a single time fault first time out with Showgirl, was eliminated in round two. Lisa Carlsen (La Boom) had put just four on the board but Tiffany Foster’s 12 with Southwind VDL had already left them vulnerable so Eric Lamaze, who had retired in the first round with Verdi, decided not to run again to leave them in seventh place at the end of the day.
There was plenty to celebrate in The Ukrainian camp, as this emerging nation has consistently shown form in recent years, particularly at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky, USA two years ago where they qualified for this summer’s Olympic Games in London. They have now added the FEI European Promotional League 2012 title to their honours list, and can be expected to continue to make an impact as the sport continues to evolve.
FEI Nations Cup Jumping will undergo a transformation over the coming months. Plans are afoot to introduce a new system of regional qualifying leagues, semi-finals and a world final. A draft copy of proposed changes for 2013 has already been sent to National Federations, the International Jumping Riders Club, Chef d’Equipes and Show Organisers for their comments. These will be considered at a meeting of the FEI Jumping Committee on 12/13 September, following which a final proposal will be submitted to the FEI Bureau for approval.
The FEI Nations Cup, which continues to thrive after more than a century of fantastic sport, is looking forward to an exciting new future.
FEI Nations Cup European Promotional League 2012 – Final Standings after Gijon (ESP):
1. Ukraine - 34
2. Denmark - 30.5
3. Italy - 29.5
4. Spain - 26.5
5. Qatar - 14.5
6. Brazil - 12.0
7. Norway - 7.5
8. Austria - 6
9. Saudi Arabia - 5.5
10. Finland - 3
11. Austria - 0
12. Japan - 0