Team Germany came out on top at the fourth leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup 2015 Europe Division 2 League in Sopot on Friday. However they had to work hard for their success, forced into a jump-off by the French who eventually had to settle for runner-up spot.
Belgium finished third, but it was the host team and Russia that scooped the maximum qualifying points towards the Furusiyya 2015 Final when sharing fourth spot ahead of Great Britain in sixth and Denmark in seventh, while last year’s Sopot winners from Turkey had to settle for eighth place this time around.
With the maximum number of 13 nations lining out at this leg, the teams from Norway, Sweden, Ukraine, Austria and The Netherlands failed to make the cut into the second round when only eight teams returned. And it came to a thrilling climax, with Andre Thieme clinching it for Germany when clear with Conthendrix (Contendro x Cor de la Bryere) in the two-way jump-off.
France and Belgium shared the lead at the halfway stage carrying four faults each, but the German, British and Polish sides were close behind with just five faults apiece. And the other three teams to make the cut into the second round were Russia and Turkey carrying nine faults each, and Sweden whose faster first round gave them the nod over Norway when both put 10 faults on the first-round scoreboard.
The Belgians lost their grip when Wouter Devos, who was eliminated first time out, collected eight faults at his second attempt, and Catherine van Roosbroeck also double-faulted. This meant that, despite superb double-clears from both pathfinder Jos Lansink and anchorman Jerome Guery they had to add eight to their scoreline which proved way too expensive.
The Polish side added 12, and the British added 13 to also slip out of contention, but the Germans put huge pressure on the French with clears from Thieme, Janne-Friederike Meyer on Goja 27 (Wandor v.d.Mispelaere x Palestro van de Begijnakker) who had picked up just a single time fault first time out, and anchorman Patrick Stuhlmeyer who produced one of the four double-clears on the day with Lacan (Lando x Contender) . Holger Wulschner’s single second-round error with BSC Cavity (Caretino x Lansing) could therefore be discarded, leaving them on their first-round total of five.
The French meanwhile slipped onto level pegging when having to count the single time fault collected by Cyril Bouvard on Quasi Modo Z (Querlybet Hero x Quidam de Revel). Laurent Goffinet Quinette du Quesnoy (Helios de la Cour II x Capital) followed his opening four-fault effort with a clear and Jerome Hurel was double-clear with Quartz Rouge (Ultimo van ter Moude x Qredo de la Paulstra) but seven faults from Alexandre Fontanelle on Prime Time des Vagues (Diner's Time x Helios d'Amount) ensured Bouvard’s score had to be added. So a two-way showdown was assured.
Germany’s Thieme was first to go in the third-round gallop against the clock and set the standard with a foot-perfect run in 35.45 seconds. And although Fontanelle was more than two seconds quicker with his 12-year-old bay, he put four faults on the board for France to settle the matter.
German Chef d’Equipe, Heinrich-Hermann Engemann, was well-pleased with the result. “We had a discussion before the jump-off and agreed that Andre would jump it. He did a really good job and fought a lot to jump clear which placed pressure on the French rider to jump clear with a fast time” he said afterwards.
Hero of the day, Thieme commented, “now that the jump-off is over, I feel great! Normally I am very calm, almost too calm, and people try to wake me up! For the first time today before the jump-off I felt a bit ‘aaah’. We didn’t have the right bridle, so the groom had to run back to the stable to get it. We didn’t have an ideal preparation in the build-up, but anyways, it worked out in the end!” he said happily.
Talking about how the competition evolved, Thieme said, “the Brits, the Belgians and the French were all ahead of us coming into the second round – they really looked on top of things. It was really surprising to see teams with strong line-ups such as Ukraine and The Netherlands not doing so well. But we knew there would be a lot of good competitors. With our three clear rounds in the second round we managed to claw our way back!” he said proudly.
Talking about his winning ride, the 11-year-old Conthendrix, he explained, “from the very beginning, when I got him a few years ago, he was a talent but a bit too wild and fresh. From last year onwards, he has really started to settle down. He has done some great Nations Cup 5-Star shows – he was in Hickstead, Calgary, Dublin and won it in Falsterbo as well. Today he had one down in the first round, but from the second round he started jumping extra good. He was extremely consistent. That’s the great thing about him, you can keep jumping and he doesn’t get tired – he is just exceptional!” he added.
Patrick Stuhlmeyer was understandably delighted too. “The course was very long and the time required to complete it was very short. It was a good job from the course designer. I’m really proud, my horse jumped a great double clear!” said the rider who is based near Osnabruck in Germany.
Janne-Friederike Meyer was also a happy lady. “When you just won the Nations Cup, it’s easy to say that we love it here in Sopot! On a serious note though, it’s a super show from all aspects; whether the arena, the crowd or the accommodation. Yesterday, there were some small issues with the ground but they rectified it immediately. The jump-off was really exciting today, and in the end there were enough faults from the other teams for us to clinch it. The organisation as a whole here was fantastic!” she said.
Source: FEI press release
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