Only a week after coming out on top in Lummen, Belgium, French riders recorded their second win of the inaugural Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping series at Drammen, about 40km south of the Norwegian capital city of Oslo. on Friday.
However this time they were pushed just about as close as it could get, with the runners-up from The Netherlands keeping them under immense pressure right to the very end of a gripping competition.
Eight nations competed, with five countries - Belarus, Finland, Italy, Norway, Russia and Sweden – battling for points towards the Final which will take place in Barcelona, Spain in September.
It was a last-to-go, foot-perfect run from French anchorman, Timothee Anciaume, that clinched it. “I had a lot of pressure on my shoulders coming into the second round, but the objective had been clearly set by our Chef d’Equipe, Philippe Guerdat. This is a new team, but we came here to win!” he said.
Sweden finished third ahead of the host nation of Norway in fourth, while Italy slotted into fifth ahead of Finland. At this Europe Division 2 leg of the 2013 Furusiyya series, just six of the eight competing nations returned for the second round, and it was the sides from Russia and Belarus that watched from the sidelines when squeezed out after their opening effort.
The time-allowed of 80 seconds proved very difficult to get. And the Russians were unfortunate to miss their chance to return for the second round. They were on level-pegging with Finland after collecting 16 faults in round one, but their slower times saw them having to settle for seventh at the end of the day.
Course designer, Germany’s Stefan Wirth, set them an inviting course with a few interesting questions. Straightness and balance were key to a clear jumping round.
For Norwegian Chef d’Equipe, Ulf Storemark, it was also a great day. Like so many other nations, the Norwegians are chasing points in this first Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup inaugural season, and the 75 they collected have moved them into third place at this early stage on the Europe Division 2 league table. Sweden heads that leaderboard, with Finland in second and Belarus in fourth.
1. France 4 faults: Number One d’Iso Un Prince (Nicolas Delmotte) 0/0, Pardoes (Mathieu Billot) 0/9, Amadeus Z (Francois Xavier Boudant) 4/4, Quorioso Pre Nois (Timothee Anciaume) 0/0.
2. Netherlands 7 faults: Wan Architect (Eric van der Vleuten) 0/4, KM Wish (Suzanne Tepper) 1/1, Atlanta (Peter Bulthuis) 4/0, Liberty Antara (Henk van de Pol) 1/4.
3. Sweden 12 faults: Echo de Laubry (Royne Zetterman) 17/13, Udermus (Douglas Lindelow) 4/0, Titan (Emma Emanuelsson) 1/6, H&M Cash In (Peder Fredricson) 1/0.
4. Norway 18 faults: Dimaro Vd Looise Heide (Dag Ove Kingsrod) 5/4, Urval (Victoria Gulliksen) 2/2, CC Top (Ole Kristoffer Meland) 9/4, Edesa S Banjan (Geir Gulliksen) 1/10.
5. Italy 23 faults: Loro Piana Acamar (Massimiliano Ferrario) 5/4, Baretto (Roberto Turchetto) 4/4, Silverstras (Giovanni Consorti) 5/8, Connery (Luca Maria Moneta) 16/1.
6. Finland 88 faults: Cue Channa (Sebastian Numminen) 13/Withdrawn, Elba (Niklas Aromaa) 2/16, Quenaro (Mikko Maentausta) 9/18, Celestine (Satu Liukkonen) 5/Withdrawn.
7. Russia 16 in FIRST ROUND: Like You 2 (Sergey Khomashko) 10, Pimlico (Anna Gromzina) 5, Triggy Puh (Olga Chechina) 9, Littlefoot 22 (Vladimir Beletsky) 2.
Belarus 30 faults in FIRST ROUND: Wacantos (Yahor Morotski) 15, Lodonkor (Vasil Ivanou) 14, Clooney (Ibragim Vaskov) 10, Colin (Maksim Kryna) 6.
Europe Division 2 Updated Leaderboard, after Drammen:
1. Sweden 152 points (70 points in Lummen, 5th, and 82 points in Drammen, 3rd)
2. Finland 141 points (75 points in Lummen, 4th, and 66 points in Drammen, 6th)
3. Norway 139 points (64 points in Lummen, 8th, and 75 points in Drammen, 4th)
4. Belarus 123 points (59 points in Linz, 10th, and 64 points in Drammen, 8th)
5. Austria 75 points (75 points in Linz, 4th)
6. Italy 70 points (70 points in Drammen, 5th)
7. Denmark 66 points (66 points in Linz, 6th)
8. Belgium 66 points (66 points in Lummen, 6th)
9. Russia 65 points (0 point in Linz, 11th, and 65 points in Drammen, 7th)