Marlon Modolo Zanotelli led the Brazilian team to victory in the last leg of the 2015 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Europe Division 2 League at CSIO San Marino Arezzo in Italy Friday. The competition came down to a two-way jump-off between Brazil and France, and the 27-year-old Belgian-based rider clinched it with a fast four-fault result.
Tensions were high from the outset with a great deal hanging in the balance, and there will be great celebrations in the Czech and Polish camps tonight. Because these two countries leap-frogged the Ukraine and Finland at the top of the Division 2 leaderboard and have earned their places at the much-anticipated Furusiyya 2015 Final which kicks off in Barcelona, Spain in just over two weeks’ time. As 2015 league champions, the Czech Republic has earned promotion to the prestigious Europe Division 1 series in 2016.
It was a hard-fought affair in which the Czechs finished third ahead of Germany in fourth, Italy in fifth and Poland and Sweden in joint-sixth place ahead of Belgium. Only eight of the 12 starting nations returned for the second round, leaving Denmark, Ireland, Norway and Turkey on the sidelines. Slovenia, drawn second-last to go, didn’t even get to start, because their three-strong side dissolved when team-member, Pato Muente, broke his leg yesterday.
The Brazilians and French were already neck-and-neck at the halfway stage when sharing an eight-fault scoreline. Poland was next in line with 12 while Germany, Belgium, Sweden and Czech Republic were all bunched together with 16 on the scoreboard followed by the host nation’s 17-fault tally, and these were the eight teams to return in the second round.
Clear rounds were hard to get, only four horse-and-rider combinations coming up with a zero score first time out as Uliano Vezzani’s course took its toll. “It was a difficult one to jump although not a high one - a track that was more based on the technical aspects” explained the course designer afterwards. The bogey line was the run from the water-tray vertical at fence nine to the Longines triple combination at 10, but there were plenty of other places where mistakes could be made.
Modolo Zanotelli said the water-tray vertical was very cleverly placed, “you had to gallop to the oxer before it and take a sort of 90 degree turn, so horses were losing their momentum and they often arrived flat at the vertical” he explained. “You had to know your horse to get around, and a lot of the riders were feeling the pressure. Uliano did a good job, the course was delicate and the riders had to stay calm and keep thinking all the way” said the only rider to jump double-clear on the day.
As the second round progressed, the gap between the leaders and the rest widened, and two different scenarios began to play themselves out. The Brazilians and French battled for the win on the day, while the Poles and Czechs played cat-and-mouse in the race for the Division 2 title, promotion to Division 1. And the latter situation was the first to be resolved, but it came right down to the wire.
Zuzana Zelinkova increased the tempo with a pathfinding second-round clear with Caleri ll (Calido I x Leonid), but Emma Augier de Moussac on Charly Brown (Diamant de Semilly x Burggraaf) racked up nine faults and Ondrej Zvara on Cento Lano (Cento Lano x Eoghan du Mervaux) produced the round two discount of 12 before Ales Opatrny on Acovaro (Acodetto I x Calvaro) clipped the first element of the double at six for four faults. The additional 13 penalties brought Czech Republic’s final tally to 29, and as last-line Polish rider, Kryzysztof Ludwiczak, set off there was a huge weight on his shoulders.
If one of the eight-fault results picked up by team-mates Jaroslaw Skrzcycznski, Msciwoj Kiecon and Maksymilian Wechta could be discounted then Poland would finish on a score of 28 and edge out the Czechs. But anchorman, Krzysztof Ludwiczak left the tricky vertical at fence seven and the last element of the triple combination on the floor to drop Poland down to joint-sixth place in the final analysis.
Meanwhile the Brazilians and French batteled it out, each adding just four faults to their tallies to finish round two on a total of 12 and creating a third-round showdown. Both Modolo Zanotelli on Valetto JX (Cevin Z x Giorgione 9) and Karina Johannpeter on Casper (Concetto I x Grannus) were clear for Brazil who could discount Bernardo Alves’ 13 faults when Yuri Mansur Guerios on Cornetto K (Cornet Obolensky x Calido) made only a single second-round error. And both Bernard Briand Chevalier on Qadillac de Heup (Helios de la Cour Ii x Thurin*HN) and Alexandra Paillot on Polias de Blondel (Elan de la Cour SF x Drapeau Rouge ) were foot-perfect for France whose discount score was the eight collected by Edouard Coral when Emeric George lowered only the final element of the combination.
With one rider to go for each side, Modolo Zanotelli was first into the jump-off and, hitting the first of the two remaining elements of the triple combination in his fast round that broke the beam in 34.66 seconds it seemed he might have left the door open. But Frenchman, Chevalier, hit the same fence and then the new vertical that followed to settle the matter.
Brazilian Chef d’Equipe, Jean Maurice Bonneau, was well-pleased with his team’s performance. “it’s impossible not to be happy today!” he said. And he was delighted to have Karina Johannpeter in his side “because we don’t have many top females in Brazil."
“We have new horses that we need to test through competing in these competitions. I have to say thank you to Marlon as it is important to have one top top rider to carry the team, and credit to him. Either way, all the riders did fantastic over the two rounds” he said. And he’s now looking ahead to the Furusiyya Final in a few weeks’ time. “Rodrigo (Pessoa), Pedro Veniss, Marlon and Doda (de Miranda) will be with us in Barcelona. I still haven’t decided on the fifth rider yet” said the man who has created a real team spirit in the Brazilian side in recent years.
Newly-wed Marlon Modolo Zanotelli was particularly delighted because he partnered the horse owned and often competed by his boss, Irishman Enda Carroll from Ashford Stables, where Zanotelli’s wife, Swedish rider Angelica Augustsson, also works. “It was a last-minute call up for the team and I didn’t have a ride because we already had plans for the other horses, but Enda said “take Valetto, he’ll surely do the job!” the Brazilian rider said.
Source: Press release from the FEI written by Louise Parkes
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