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From Rome to St. Gallen: Back-to-back FEI Nations Cup victory for Italy

Friday, 02 June 2017
CSIO5* St. Gallen 2017

Photo FEI/Richard Juilliart The winning Italian team: Luca Marziani, Paolo Paini, Emilio Bicocchi, Lorenzo De Luca and Chef d'Equipe Arioldi Roberto. Photo FEI/Richard Juilliart.

Fresh from their FEI Nations Cup victory in Rome last week, the Italians again proved to be unbeatable in the fourth leg of the Europe Division One in St. Gallen, Switzerland.

With last year's winning team Ireland, current ranking leader France and in-form Italy all present with strong individuals in their squads at the Gruendenmoos Equestrian Stadium, the competition was set to be a thriller.

Course designer Gerard Lachat (SUI) had set 12 obstacles and 15 efforts in a time allowed of 80 seconds to test the very best horses and riders of the world. With Marc Dilasser on the 10-year-old gelding Cliffton Belesbat (Clinton x Halando II), Bernard Briand Chevalier on the 13-year-old Qadillac du Heup (Helios de la Cour II x Thurin HN) and Roger Yves Bost on the 11-year-old mare Sangria du Coty (Quaprice Bois Margot x Muguet du Manoir) all going clear on the first round for Team France, it looked like the current ranking leaders would be invincible.

But the second round turned out to be a game changer. Team Germany, that had gathered a total of 13 penalties in the first round, kept their cool. With Christian Kukuk on the 10-year-old stallion Limonchello NT (Lord Caletto x Calido I), Marco Kutscher on the 11-year-old gelding Clenur (Carinue x Fernando) and André Thieme on the 13-year-old gelding Conthendrix (Contendro I x Cor de la Bryere) all keeping a clear score in round two, they piled pressure on the other teams. And the coolness paid off as Germany – that headed into the second round as team number six – could watch others crack under pressure lifting them to a third place finish in the end.

Starting of as the leaders after round one, Team France had to see a dramatic change in their score in the second round. Even though their anchor man Bosty on Sangria du Coty ended up riding one of only three double clear performances of the day, it did nothing to save the team from a total of 25 penalties and a big slide down the leader board.

As if it wasn't dramatic enough, the skies opened and rain poured down during the final moments of round two. Sitting second after round one, it was Team Switzerland's Steve Guerdat on the 11-year-old mare Bianca (Balou du Rouet x Cardento) who repeated his double clear performance from Rome and secured the runner-up position for the home team and valuable Nations Cup points despite the horrible weather conditions. As the mare took off to a white vertical following the open water from a distance that seemed impossible to clear, all of Gruendenmoos gasped for air. But Bianca proved once more what a wonder mare she is, clearing the jump and setting the third double clear of the day.

Fresh from their fabulous home win in Rome, Team Italy's anchor pair Lorenzo de Luca and the 15-year-old stallion Armitages Boy (Armitage x Feo) set a picture perfect clear in the second round, leaving Italy on the team total of nine penalties – securing them another spot on the top of the podium as well as an additional 100 points in Europe Division One.

Angelie von Essen on the 11-year-old gelding Newton Abbot (Converter x Indoctro) had one of only three double clear performances of the day, helping Team Sweden to a fifth place finish with a total of 24 penalties.

 "It is difficult to win two times in a row, and I am very proud of my riders," said Italian Chef d'Equipe Roberto Arioldi after his team's victory. 

"The course designer did a great job, we saw great sport. I did not see one horse jumping bad, we saw the faults all over the course and the time was also perfect. My horse jumped great, I had an unfortunate fault on the first round," said Italy's super-star Lorenzo de Luca after helping his team to another win. 

Paolo Paini, who only notched up a single time penalty over the two rounds, said: "It is my first time in St. Gallen and it feels super!"

 


Text © World of Showjumping by Nanna Nieminen // Picture © FEI/Richard Juilliart

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