Ten nations had lined up to compete in Saturday’s Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup in Gijon, Spain - with France taking a convincing victory. After the first round, Philippe Guerdat’s team were on a zero penalty score as Alexandre Fontanelle on Prime Time des Vagues (Diner's Time x Helios d’Aumont), Adeline Hecart on Pasha du Gue (Dollar Dela Pierre x Darco) and Aymeric de Ponnat on Ricore Courcelle (Quincy) all had produced clear rounds so that Cyril Bouvard’s four faults could be discharged.
The French were accompanied by Belgium, who also had three of four riders going clear in the first round - leading the way into round two followed by the Swiss team on four faults, and then five more teams on eight faults.
Round two saw the team from France holding on to their lead. Alexandre Fontanelle and Aymeric de Ponnat once again went clear, and with only four faults from Adeline Hecart the French were lucky enough to put away Cyril Bouvard’s elimination - putting them on only four faults after the two rounds.
Belgium was not so lucky, and fell down the ranks and out of podium position. Although Fabienne Daigneux Lange opened with a clear for her team, the three riders that were faultless the first time around - Catherine van Roosbroeck, Wilm Vermeir and Jerome Guery - had eight, twelve and four faults respectively causing them to end on a total of twelve penalties a spot they shared with Switzerland and the Netherlands.
Great Britain and Ireland fought their way back up though. British riders Robert Bevis on Courtney Z (Chellano Z x Major de la Cour), Joe Clayton on Velini (Cheers Cassini x Kigali) and Laura Renwick on Heliodor Hybris (Diamant De Semilly x Cannonball) all delivered clean rounds - Bevis and Clayton repeating their success from round one to record double clears. Discharging the score belonging to Keith Shore, the team ended on eight faults.
This was also Ireland’s end result as Cameron Hanley on Z Acodate DDL (Acord II x Aldatus) - also clear in the first round, Capt. Michael Kelly on Ringwood Glenn (VDL Arkansas x Kilglass Pennistone) and Dermott Lennon on Loughview Lou Lou (Limmerick x Jack Of Diamonds) all ended on a clean sheet making it possible to discharge Anthony Condon’s score of four faults - putting them tied with the Brits and sharing the runner-up position.
The French Chef d’Equipe reflected on his team’s success. “It’s difficult to say anything bad when you win, especially when the course designer is sitting just beside you!” Philippe Guerdat said with a laugh. “Considering it is one week after the FEI European Championships, the course today was tough but not over the top. Usually Avelino is tight on time, so I had a chat with him the other day to make sure he would be as generous as possible, especially since we have slow horses here, and it worked!” he joked.
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