Spain has moved into second place in the inaugural FEI Nations Cup Eventing competition following an emphatic win at Montelibretti, Italy, at the weekend.
The Spanish team riders dominated the final placings in second, fifth, sixth and eighth from a total of 11 out of the 30 starters that completed the competition.
Three nations fielded teams for Montelibretti, which is held at the Centro Militare di Equitazione (Military Equestrian Centre) on the outskirts of Rome and is the southernmost event of the FEI Nations Cup Eventing series.
Italy led after the dressage phase, with Stefano Brecciaroli performing a typically beautiful test to head the leaderboard on 30.4 penalties with his Olympic horse, Apollo V/D Wendy Kurt Hoeve, and team mate Marco Biasia was in third place on Tatchou.
Brecciaroli retained his lead after cross country with the fastest round of the day, for 1.2 time penalties. He eventually won the competition with a clear jumping round, finishing an impressive 31 penalties ahead of the best-placed Spanish rider, Maria Pinedo on Windsor H in second place. Biasia retained third place for the home side on the final individual leaderboard, but with his other two team mates failing to finish, the Italians could not challenge the Spanish for the top team spot.
In the end, it was a triumphant day for Spain, with all four riders achieving clear rounds on a challenging course, which 14 combinations completed.
“We had a fantastic weekend from all points of view,” said Technical Delegate Guilio Pocci. “It was a beautiful place with first-rate organisation and the rain we had just before the weekend meant that the footing was perfect.”
The Spanish are now right up in the hunt going into the final leg of the FEI Nations Cup Eventing at the popular Dutch fixture at Boekelo next month.
Although Germany has an unassailable lead, nations such as the Netherlands, Great Britain, France, Sweden, Australia and New Zealand now have it all to do to finish in the top three, which should make for a fiercely contested finale.
The brand new six-leg series, which is taking place on a trial basis this year, is open to all nations fielding one team composed of three or four riders at each leg. The opening competition was at Fontainebleau in France in March.
The series runs under FEI Eventing rules at CICO and CCIO 3* level and riders accumulate points under a dedicated system created for the new series.
1 Spain, 214.4 (Maria Pinedo/Windsor H, 62.8; Albert Farras Hermoso/Hito CP, 75.0; Carlos Diaz Fernandez/Iberon CP22, 76.6; Marti Sala Bayes/Quidam del Duero, 84.8);
2 Italy (Stefano Brecciaroli/Apollo V/D Wendy Kurt Hoeve, 31.6; Marco Biasia/Tatchou, 68.8; Stefano Fioravanti/Nodin d’Orval, elim; Mattia Luciani/Horseware’s Parko, elim);
3 Switzerland (Andres Esther/Schualbenprinz, ret; Michele Moor/Ayman, ret; Heinz Scheller/Autumn’s Crystal, elim; Jrina Giesswen/Thunder lll, elim).
Leaderboard (after 5 out of 6 Events)
1 Germany 41 points
2 Spain 28
3 Netherlands 23
4 France 20
5 Great Britain 20
6 Sweden 16
7 Australia 15
8 New Zealand 14
9 Switzerland 9
10 Brazil 6
11 Poland 5
FEI Nations Cup Eventing 2012 calendar
1 Fontainebleau (FRA) 22-25 March 2012
2 Houghton Hall (GBR) 24-27 May 2012
3 Strzegom (POL) 1-3 June 2012
4 Aachen (GER) 3-8 July 2012
5 Montelibretti (ITA) 21-23 September 2012
6 Boekelo (NED) 11-14 October 2012