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Dutch do it again in Longines FEI Nations Cup-thriller in Falsterbo

Sunday, 15 July 2018
CSIO5* Falsterbo 2018

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson. It was Johnny Pals that decided the Nations Cup for Netherlands. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

After a lightning fast Longines FEI Nations Cup jump-off, it was the Dutch team that could climb to the top of the podium in Falsterbo, Sweden – just like last year. Maikel van der Vleuten with Idi Utopia (Quasimodo Z x Darco), Michel Hendrix with Baileys (Indoctro x Come On), Johnny Pals with Chat Botte du Ruisseau Z (Casall x Darco) and Jur Vrieling with VDL Glasgow v. Merelsnest N.O.P. (Nabab de Reve x Udarco) brought home the victory, in what turned out to be a real thriller of a competition.

It was a happy Chef d’Equipe Rob Ehrens that joked at the press conference: “We changed the tactic a little bit this year because I knew I had to keep my riders sharp at this amazing show with so many people and so many parties. So, we decided that the team-vet and myself would do the parties instead and I must say it was very exciting. In that way, we kept the riders really sharp for the Nations Cup today – so I’m very happy.”

Jokes aside, Ehrens added: “This was a thriller, and nothing can beat a competition like the one we saw today!”

The course build by Frank Rothenberger (GER) and Christian Wiegand (GER) gave the riders a real challenge and once again it was the Longines triple combination – at no. five – that caused the most issues.

“I find that in height it was a little less than a five-star Grand Prix, but I think this is also because we have to do it twice and with the double oxer in the triple combination it was difficult. In general it was difficult enough and I think we had super sport with a great jump-off,” said Maikel van der Vleuten about the track.

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson. Three out of four in the Dutch team - Jur Vrieling, Maikel van der Vleuten and Johnny Pals. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

After the first round, Ireland was in the lead as three riders delivered clear rounds – Bertram Allen with Gin Chin van het Lindenhof (Chin Chin x Calido I), Mark McAuley with Utchan de Belheme (Calvaro x Mr. Blue) and Paul O’Shea with Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu (Silverstone x Matterhorn). Ireland was followed by Netherlands, Sweden and Italy on four faults, Great Britain on five faults, Denmark on nine faults while both Norway and Spain were on 20 faults.

And it was between the top four countries that the battle would unfold in the second round. Italy delivered three clears, leaving them on four faults, as did Sweden. The Netherlands only had three riders for round two after Michel Hendrix got in trouble with his horse Baileys in the triple combination during round one and decided not to come back for the second round, but the three riders competing delivered their clears to keep the Dutch in the game.

“It looks like my horse is fine and that is the most important,” Hendrix said. “Actually, I had quite a good feeling during the warm-up. On the last vertical he maybe didn’t give me as much power as he normally does. That was a little bit the same for the first jumps in the course as well, and I think he lost his confidence a little bit and in the triple combination it didn’t go well for us. All the creds to my team mates and I’m very thankful they made it up,” Hendrix said after the class.

When Ireland’s two first riders picked up four faults each, it was up to Daniel Coyle – who had recorded twelve faults in the first round – and Paul O’Shea to get their clears, and so they did. With four countries on four faults it was set for a jump-off, and it was set for speed!

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson. Team Ireland finished second. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

Italy’s Luca Marziani and Tokyo du Soleil (Montender x Papillon Rouge) started off with a great, fast, round in 42.71 seconds. Then it was time for Henrik von Eckermann with Toveks Mary Lou (Montendro x Portland L), who did some nail-biting turns to push the time down to 41.52 seconds – taking over the lead for Sweden. Dutch rider Johnny Pals was next to go, and without pulling back once during the shortened course he made the audience gasp for air with his risky round – crossing the finish line in 39.33 seconds.

“Rob Ehrens said that I needed to do the jump-off, so I was excited to do that for the team. Normally I’m not such a fast rider as these three. Jur Vrieling said ‘one down you can have, but for sure not too slow so you have to go fast’. So I went full speed and it worked out ok,” Pals laughed at the press conference.

Daniel Coyle went all in riding Cita (Casall x Pik Ramiro), but couldn’t quite match the time when he stopped the clock in 40.47 seconds to push Sweden down to third and Italy to fourth place.

Seven riders did the impressive performance to deliver a double clear: Johnny Pals with Chat Botte du Ruisseau Z (actually a triple clear) and Jur Vrieling with VDL Glasgow v. Merelsnest N.O.P. for Netherlands, Paul O’Shea with Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu for Ireland, Malin Baryard-Johnsson with H&M Indiana (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Animo’s Hallo) and Peder Fredricson with H&M Christian K (Namelus R x Calvados) for Sweden, as well as Luca Marziani with Tokyo du Soleil and Bruno Chimirri with Tower Mouche for Italy.

“It is amazing to jump double clear, and Falsterbo is a great show with a fantastic crowd so it was a super feeling. My horse jumped the double clear easy and I’m really happy with it,” Vrieling said.


Text and pictures © World of Showjumping

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