The Netherlands won through in a close-fought clash with a talented British side at the penultimate leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping Europe Division 2 series at Gijon, Spain, on Saturday.
Belgium finished third, but it was the fourth-place Italians who had some of the biggest smiles on their faces at the end of a very exciting afternoon. A gutsy performance has kept their hopes of a place at the inaugural final alive going into the last Europe Division 2 qualifier on home ground at Arezzo, Italy in six days’ time.
A total of 10 nations lined out over a testing 12-fence track designed by Spain’s Avelino Rodriguez-Miravalles. Just six teams returned for the second round, and the host nation riders joined their Portuguese neighbours along with the Americans and French in missing the cut at the halfway stage.
The Dutch were already in the lead as the second round began, but the British pursued them vigorously and with the only two double-clear performances of the day looked set to overtake Roelof Bril’s quartet. ButThe Netherlands held on tight to eventually come out the winners by a narrow two-fault margin.
The Spanish course designer, best known as Avelino, has long had a reputation for flair and finesse, and once again put his stamp on the track. There were three fences standing at the maximum 1.60m and one of these, the brightly coloured planks at fence nine, was particularly influential throughout the competition.
There was also an open water, 4m wide, but it was the triple combination, just one fence from home, that collected the most penalties, while the final wavy planks also claimed a good number of victims.
Rodeiguez-Miravalles was pleased with how the competition evolved. “Bearing in mind this is a 5-Star design, I sought to develop a course that would make ‘the best team’ win without proving to be too difficult for most teams to compete. As a course designer, I also have the responsibility of ensuring the competition remains as interesting as possible. I developed this course in order to try to exploit the skills of the riders, but without wanting to exhaust the horses by forcing them into exerting maximum energy and effort from start to finish,” he said.
“I have been involved in this event since 1968 and as a Director since 1971. It is a concept that has developed over the years. I use my imagination and creativity to design them,” Rodeiguez-Miravalles said. “I am a bit of a perfectionist and enjoying paying great attention to detail. I try not to have the same fences used over and over again. Doing this each year (creating new obstacles) gives each course its own personality and identity. This contributes to making the show so individual and unique”.
The next leg of the series is the last round of the Europe Division 2 league and takes place at CSIO 3* Arezzo/San Marino, Italy on Friday, September 6.
1. Netherlands 10 faults: PrimeVal Dejavu (Gert Jan Bruggink) 0/4, Zirocco Blue VDL (Jur Vrieling) 1/4, Winchester HS (Frank Schuttert) 4/0, Emerald (Harris Smolders) 4/1.
2. Great Britain 12 faults: Zigali PS (Daniel Neilson) 12/4, Hello Winner (Louise Saywell) 0/0, Catwalk IV (Robert Whitaker) 0/0, Fandango (William Whitaker) 8/8.
3. Belgium 23 faults: Withney vd Dwerse Hagen (Patrik Spits) 4/4, Upper Star (Jerome Guery) 4/12, Cor vd Wateringhoeve (Dominique Hendrickx) 1/9, Papillon Z (Gregory Wathalet) 8/1.
4. Italy 27 faults: Connery (Luca Maria Moneta) 9/12, Wivina (Luca Marziani) 5/5, Banco Popolare Bari Cassandra (Francesco Franco) 20/0, Zoe ll (Lorenzo de Luca) 4/4.
5. Ireland 30 faults: Annestown (Capt Michael Kelly) 4/4, Romanov (Bertram Allen) 8/4, All Inclusive NRW (Denis Lynch) 5/5, Zarnita (Shane Breen) 17/Ret.
6. Germany 35 faults: Cassydy (Markus Renzel) 12/17, Firsth of Lorne (Katrin Eckermann) 4/13, Contanga (Andre Thieme) 5/5, Colorit (David Will) 4/4.
7. Spain 19 faults IN FIRST ROUND: Octavio (Pilar Lucrecia Cordon) 17, Conington (Carlos Lopez-Fanjul) 9, Nectar du Plessis (Rutherford Latham) 10, Carlo (Sergio Alvarez Moya) 0.
8. USA 24 faults IN FIRST ROUND: Wolf S (Reed Kessler) 8, Springtime (Saer Coulter) 12, Barron (Lucy Davis) 4, Tackeray (Lauren Hough) 12.
8. France 24 faults IN FIRST ROUND: Quorioso Pre Noir (Timothee Anciaume) 8, Cristallo A (Julien Epaillard) 12, Oh d’Eole (Michel Robert) 20, Qlassic Bois Margot (Simon Delestre) 4.
10. Portugal 65 faults IN FIRST ROUND: Venus C (Ricardo Gil Santos) 21, Arthos (Hugo Carvalho) 12, Corrabe (Ivo Carvalho) 32, Wannahave (Alexandre Mascarenhas de Lemos) DNS.