The Czech Republic has posted its first ever win in a Nations Cup jumping competition, pipping Norway for pole position in Budapest in Hungary on Friday.
The 13 teams in the fifth leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping 2014 Europe Division 2 League were whittled down to just eight after the first round by a challenging track designed by Germany’s Werner Deeg, and the Norwegians and Czechs slogged it out when going into the second round as joint-leaders.
There was drama right to the end, with big scores for the second-line riders on both sides threatening their chances and only a single fence separating the two teams in the final analysis. And there was great joy in the Czech camp as they celebrated their first-ever Nations Cup victory. “We are so very happy!” said Czech pathfinder Zuzanna Zelinkova whose double-clear with the fabulous stallion Caleri ll was pivotal to the result.
“Today was a big and special day for us, it is historic because it is the very first win for a Nations Cup team from Czech Republic and we are all very proud!” she said.
Another team that demonstrated the unique spirit of determination that epitomises the sport of Nations Cup Jumping was the Slovak side who, lying joint-fifth at the halfway point, stood firm while others around them fell by the wayside and improved to finish fourth behind a good Belgian foursome.
Denmark finished fifth ahead of Germany in sixth, Argentina in seventh and Austria in eighth place.
From the 13 nations, there were seven in the hunt for points towards the Final in October, but Hungary and Turkey missed their chances when failing to make the cut into the second round along with Italy, Hong Kong and Slovenia. The Turkish team, convincing winners at the previous Europe Division 2 leg in Sopot, Poland last month, were in trouble from the outset when their star partnership of Derin Demirsoy and Harry K opened with 16 faults, and despite a clear from Husnu Dinc (Chellachic Z) they couldn’t recover and finished ninth.
Werner Deeg’s track was uncompromising, with many fences approached off corners and complete concentration required from start to finish. The Budapest fixture takes place in the Nemzeti Lovarda, the Hungarian National Riding School which is located in the heart of the beautiful city, and some horses seemed distracted by their surroundings, while the intense heat added to the intensity of the occasion.
Zuzanna Zelinkova talked afterwards about her show-stealing ride, Caleri ll. For her itwas extraordinary on many levels, as this is a horse she knew as a youngster and who found his way back into her career just a year ago.
“It’s a little bit amazing!” said the 30-year-old Czech rider who is based in Bratislavia, Slovakia and whose equestrian career began when she rode a pony at a circus when she was just five years old.
“Calleri came to Slovakia when he was two-and-a-half years old, he was bought at an auction and I rode him as a four and five-year-old, he was in my stables but was sold. Then I was working for another owner and I got him 14 months ago when he was a 10-year-old. We started out again together, first competing in 1.30m classes and immediately we were happy together again – he was fantastic and we jumped in Herning (Denmark) last year in the 3-star classes. He’s so scopey and so calm and quiet – it’s just like he is playing when you are riding him around the course – it’s just great fun!” she said.
The result will not be enough for her country to earn a place at the Final because Czech Republic has only one further opportunity to collect points when the series visits Zelinkova’s home-town of Bratislava next month. But it has been a hugely encouraging experience for the riders and team connections.
“This is our team for the World Equestrian Games, so everyone is very happy with how things went today” Zelinkova said. “Now we can really look forward to Normandy!”
1. Czech Republic 20 faults: Caleri ll (Zuzanna Zelinkova) 0/0, Carmen Arcus (Ondrej Zvara) 8/17, Danthe RDPF (Emma Augier de Moussac) 8/8, VDL Fakir (Ales Opatrny) 0/4.
2. Norway 24 faults: CC Top (Ole Kristoffer) 4/8, Laeticia (Margrethe Hartmann) 8/44, Calimero van’t Roth (Therese Henriksen) 0/4, Dimaro vd Looise Heide (Dag Ove Kingsroed) 4/4.
3. Belgium 25 faults: Zirano (Michael van den Bosch) 16/9, Fames van T Poezelhof (Quinten Bradt) 4/16, Green Sleeps Orage (Hendrik Denutte) 0/0, Anthony (Pieter Clemens) 8/4.
4. Slovakia 28 faults: Badarco (Marian Stangl) 12/8, Quinto (Radovan Sillo) 12/0, Pinoccio (Monika Stanglova) 0/4, Cento (Andrej Holly) 4/8.
5. Denmark 32 faults: Solos Consept (Torben Frandsen) 0/4, Never Say Never (Thomas Dresler) 4/12, Chopin van het Moleneind (Thomas Velin) 8/12, Tailermade Chaloubet (Soren Pedersen) 8/4.
6. Germany 36 faults: Fenia van Klapscheut (Marcel Marschall) 4/4, Deauville (Hendrik Dowe) 8/8, Charis (Frederick Troschke) 4/10, Czerny (Gerrit Schepers) 10/8.
7. Argentina 37 faults: Abunola H (Luis Pedro Biraben) 4/4, Winbishi Caloudina (Martin Federico Moschini) 8/8, Remonta Parforce Cooper (Alexis Trosch) 12/5, Cabrera Z (Martin Dopazo) 8/8.
8. Austria 38 faults: Texas 1 (Markus Saurugg) 4/16, Poorboy (Roland Engelbrecht) 8/6, Wodka Lime (Alice Janout) 8/8, Chilli van Dijk NRW (Stefan Eder) 8/4.
Standings after Round 5 of Europe Division 2:
1. Norway - 255
2. Denmark - 240
3. Poland - 230
4. Italy - 170
5. Turkey - 152.5
6. Finland - 150
7. Austria - 150
8. Hungary - 145
9. Slovakia - 145
10. Portugal - 100
11. Czech Republic - 100
12. Russia - 65