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Canada claims the win in the first round of the Longines FEI Nations Cup Final as time turns into decisive factor

Thursday, 28 September 2017
CSIO5* Barcelona 2017

Photo (c) FEI/ Libby Law Photography Eric Lamaze and Coco Bongo sealed the victory for Team Canada. Photo (c) FEI/ Libby Law Photography.

As expected, the first qualifier of the Longines FEI Nations Cup Final in Barcelona was a thriller right from the beginning until the very end. After 19 qualifiers in 19 different countries over the past six months, the best 15 teams in the world today began their battle for one of the most sought-after titles in the sport of jumping.

The course designed by Santiago Varela counted 13 obstacles and 16 efforts, with the time allowed set to 85 seconds. A huge white brick wall at fence number four followed by the open water was just one of the many questions Varela put up for the riders. However, it was the vertical-vertical-oxer triple combination at eleven – with a delicate white plank on top of the b-element – that turned out to be the heartbreaker for many as the action unfolded.

Going clear, Jur Vrieling on the 11-year-old stallion VDL Glasgow v. Merelsnest (Nabab de Reve x Darco) gave the Netherlands a perfect start, as did Lauren Hough on the 13-year-old mare Ohlala (Orlando x Cardento) for Team USA and Henrik von Eckermann on the 11-year-old mare Mary Lou (Montendro x Portland L) for the Swedes. As the first rider to go for the French team, Kevin Staut on the 16-year-old gelding Reveur de Hurtebise HDC (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Capricieux Des 6 Censes) rode a brilliant clear just like Yann Candele on the 10-year-old gelding Theodore Manciais (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Power Light) for Team Canada.

As the second riders in the line-up set out, Alberto Zorzi on the 13-year-old gelding Ego van Orti (Vigo D’Arsouilles x Darco) improved Team Italy’s position by producing a picture perfect clear round. A flawless round from Laura Klaphake on the 9-year-old mare Catch Me If You Can 21 (Catoki x Acordplus) steadied the game for Germany while Tiffany Foster on the 15-year-old stallion Tripple X III (Namelus R x Catango Z) produced another clear for Canada making it obvious that the third and fourth riders from each team would have to bring out their A-game to catch up. 

Photo (c) FEI/ Libby Law Photography Yann Candele and Theodore Manciais gave Canada the perfect start with their clear round. Photo (c) FEI/ Libby Law Photography.

And so they did. As the third riders for their respective teams, Italy’s Emilio Bicocchi on the 11-year-old gelding Sassicaia Ares (Ephebe For Ever x Optiebeurs Rebel Z) and France’s Olivier Robert on the 13-year-old gelding Eros (Quelybet Hero x Forever) both delivered where others failed and with the margins tightening the excitement started to rise.

Last to go for the Dutch, a steady clear from Harrie Smolders on the 13-year-old stallion Don VHP Z (Diamant de Semilly x Voltaire) helped his team finish on a total score of four penalties – eventually good enough for a tied second place with three other teams.

Going clear as anchor rider for USA, McLain Ward on the 11-year-old mare HH Azur (Thunder v. Zuuthoeve x Sir Lui v. Zuuthoeve) sealed the spot for the final leaving the American squad with a total score of four which left them equal with the Dutch as well as the French and Germans on today’s result list.

Team France had an unfortunate ending to the day as Roger-Yves Bost on the 11-year-old mare Sydney Une Prince (Baloubet du Rouet x Alfa D’Elle) went clear but afterwards was disqualified to make Penelope Leprevost’s four faults count – putting them on level pegging with the Dutch, the Americans as well as the Germans as Marcus Ehning on the 14-year-old gelding Pret a Tout (Hiram Chambertin x Stew Boy) delivered another masterly performance going clear for Team Germany and securing their spot for Saturday’s final. 

Photo (c) FEI/ Libby Law Photography Canada's Tiffany Foster and Tripple X III also went clear to help their team to the win. Photo (c) FEI/ Libby Law Photography.

As last to go, it was up to Eric Lamaze on the 12-year-old stallion Coco Bongo (Caretino x Calido) to leave the Canadians on a total score of zero – and he did just that, much to the excitement of the Canadian fans that were surely the loudest of the day.

Steve Guerdat on the 11-year-old mare Bianca (Balou du Rouet x Cardento) saved the day for the Swiss after faults from his three team-mates, producing a flawless round – helping his team end the day with a total score of eight penalties. Eight was the number of the day, with Gregory Wathelet on the 11-year-old mare Coree (Cornet Obolensky x Liberty Life) and Denis Lynch on the 14-year-old stallion All Star 5 (Argentinus x Alme) both going clear leaving Belgium and Ireland tied with Sweden and Switzerland on a total score of eight penalties.

With time being the deciding factor for the teams that were tied on eight penalties, it was the European Champions Ireland that narrowly missed the ticket to Saturday's Final as Belgium, Sweden and Switzerland were faster. The teams not qualified for Saturday, will jump in Friday's Challenge Cup.

Top eight teams qualified for Saturday's Final:

CAN 0

NED 4

USA 4

FRA 4

GER 4

BEL 8 (242,16 sec.)

SWE 8 (243,47 sec.)

SUI 8 (245,68 sec.) 

 


Text © World of Showjumping by Nanna Nieminen // Pictures © FEI/ Libby Law Photography

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