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Hard-fought French win in FEI Nations Cup of La Baule

Friday, 12 May 2017
CSIO5* Longines Jumping International de La Baule 2017

Photo (c) Tiffany Van Halle for World of Showjumping. The French team won the CSIO5* FEI Nations Cup presented by Longines on home soil in La Baule on Friday. Photo (c) Tiffany Van Halle for World of Showjumping.

They were one man down in the second round, but that did not stop the French on home soil in La Baule today as they went out victorious in the CSIO5* FEI Nations Cup presented by Longines. It took a jump-off against Sweden to crown the winner of the second leg of Europe Division 1, where Kevin Staut nailed it against Peder Fredricson – much to the joy of the French fans that created an electric atmosphere in La Baule today. 

After the first round, Sweden was in the lead with a clean sheet after clear rounds from Peder Fredricson on H&M Christian K (Namelus R x Calvados), Malin Baryard-Johnsson on H&M Cue Channa 42 (Cardento x Robin Z) and Henrik von Eckermann on Copperphild (Cornet Obolensky x Pilot) – discharging Angelie von Essen's five penalties. With only two penalties, Belgium – not a part of Europe Division 1 this year, but still with a team in La Baule – followed behind in second while the hosts were sitting third after a four-fault round from Cedric Angot, and two clears from Kevin Staut and Penelope Leprevost.

However, a dramatic fall would make the French very vulnerable ahead of round two: Roger Yves Bost's Sangria du Coty (Quaprice Bois Margot x Muguet du Manoir) did like in Zürich earlier this year, and went off on one stride instead of two after jumping the first element of the triple combination going through the middle vertical, losing her balance causing both herself and her rider to hit the ground. Luckily, both escaped and could walk out of the ring – but naturally Bosty chose not to return for round two leaving the French with every score counting. 

Sitting as number five ahead of the second round, Ireland made a climb up in round two following a beautiful double clear from Shane Breen on Golden Hawk (Vigo d'Arsouilles x Chin Chin) as well as an impressive performance from the young and talented Michael Duffy on Belcanto Z (Berlin x Mr Blue) who only had a time penalty in the first round and a foot in the water jump in the second. The Irish finished on a total of 14 faults, taking the third place and important Nations Cup points. 

Belgium, however, could not keep their momentum and without any clears in the second round they fell down the ranks to end fifth behind Switzerland in fourth. 

Surprisingly last year's winners Netherlands finished eight and last on 31 penalties, and Germany – that won this year's first Europe Division 1 leg in Lummen – ended as number seven on a score of 29. A big blow considering both teams were in La Baule to earn points. 

In the end, it was a battle between the host nation and Sweden – and it was fought out with a real nerve. Cedric Angot opened the second round for France with Saxo de La Cour (Tlaloc M x Jalisco B), and like many, many of the other riders he got caught out by the penultimate vertical that followed the open water where several of the horses did not come back in time. With one rider less on the team, things did not look good for the French when Sweden's pathfinder Peder Fredricson answered with a double clear on the lovely H&M Christian K that jumped his first five-star Nations Cup in La Baule today. 

As France's second rider in the ring, Kevin Staut on Reveur de Hurtebise HDC (Kashmir van't Schuttershof x Capricieux des Six Censes) made the home crowds go off the hooks when delivering a perfect double clear. When Sweden's second rider Malin Baryard-Johnsson could not follow up on her first clear round – also seeing the top pole of the penultimate vertical fall to the ground – it was starting to even out, and even more so when her compatriot Angelie von Essen had the middle element in the triple combination down. Suddenly, only a rail separated the two teams: A clear from French anchor-woman Penelope Leprevost would put the pressure on Henrik von Eckermann – last-to-go for Sweden – who would have to deliver a clear to secure the win, or with a pole down or more head into a jump-off. 

It was the last part of that scenario that would play out, as Leprevost made it look like a walk in the park on the lovely Flora de Mariposa (For Pleasure x Power Light) popping around the 1.60m course like it was a simple training session. So, when Copperphild clipped the back-rail on the oxer at fence nine and had the penultimate vertical down the French could not help themselves but to cheer – a jump-off was secured. 

Sending in one of their most experienced and fastest couples, Kevin Staut and Reveur des Hurtebise, it looked like it would be a difficult task for Sweden to take the win and so it turned out. Staut set off in a high pace from the beginning, already to the second vertical making an incredibly tight turn before clearing the combination and the following oxer. A bit of luck is always needed, as was the case on the two last fences as the poles were shaking in the cups after Staut's 16-year-old gelding made a loud clack into both – but they stayed intact and La Baule exploded in applause as Staut crossed the finish line clear and in 35.74 seconds. 

Recently number two in the CSIO5* Grand Prix of Lummen, and double-clear today, Sweden has a fantastic new partnership in Peder Fredricson and H&M Christian K. However, the wonderful 10-year-old gelding is newly established at this level of the sport and today he could not measure up to the experience of Reveur des Hurtebise and had two rails down on the last line in the jump-off. An outcome the French seemed to be more than able to live with, they celebrated their home heroes with a standing ovation as the Nations Cup concluded with the Marseillaise playing out over La Baule.

 


Text © World of Showjumping // Picture © Tiffany Van Halle

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