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Tight thriller in Rotterdam as Sweden wins the FEI Nations Cup

Friday, 23 June 2017
CSIO5* Rotterdam 2017

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson The winning Swedish team in Rotterdam: Henrik von Eckermann, Douglas Lindelöw, Peder Fredricson and Rolf-Göran Bengtsson with Chef d'Equipe Henrik Ankarcrona. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

It was a day of close competition in Rotterdam, as the Swedish team won the CSIO5* FEI Nations Cup – the fifth leg of Europe Division 1. Perhaps one of the tightest Nations Cups of the season in this league, the class went all the way down the wire to the very last rider in the ring.

“We had high expectations for today,” said Sweden’s Chef d’Equipe Henrik Ankarcrona after the competition. “We said already that we would go to Rotterdam to win. The plan was their all along, we had a strong team and today they all delivered so I am very happy.”

After the first round, no less than four of the eight teams were on a zero penalty score. Switzerland and Sweden did not even send their anchor riders Martin Fuchs and Peder Fredricson in the ring, as their three first riders all had jumped clear rounds while Ireland saw all their three last riders going clear discharging Shane Breen’s four faults. The last team on a clean sheet was Germany who looked very strong after clears from Marcus Ehning, Laura Klaphake and Marco Kutscher – making it possible to discharge Andreas Kreuzer’s four faults.

On top, it was not much space to breathe though. Just four faults behind followed the rest of the field with Spain, Italy, Netherlands and Belgium. The latter was the only team not eligible for points today, as they compete in Europe Division 2 this season – where they are the leading nation.

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson Double clear for Sweden: Henrik von Eckermann and Cantinero.

For the home team, that won last year in Rotterdam, today’s Nations Cup ended as a bit of a disappointment. Despite Harrie Smolder’s double clear on Don VHP Z (Diamant de Semilly x Voltaire), the Dutch had to settle for the 5th place with a total of 16 faults over the two rounds – just above Belgium on 20 penalties. Sharing the 5th spot with the hosts were Ireland and Germany, that fell down the ranks after being unable to copy the performances from round one. The Irish highlight was Bertram Allen on Hector van d'Abdijhoeve (Cabrio van de Heffinck x Utrillo van de Heffinck), who was double clear – as was Marcus Ehning and Pret A Tout (Hiram Chambertin x Stew Boy) for Germany.

Round two saw more faults than the first around the 1.60m track set by Louis Konickx. The course counted thirteen fences and included an open water at fence four followed by an oxer-vertical combination on 5ab. Later on a triple combination waited on 9abc, with a vertical-oxer-vertical – which would turn out to cause the most problems in round two as it was among the jumps to be heightened.

Many hopes ended right here: Sergio Alvarez Moya came in as Spain’s anchor rider with his team sitting on four penalties together with Sweden and Switzerland ahead of the final line-up of riders. Brilliant clear performances by Manuel Fernandez Saro and Eduardo Alvarez Aznar – the latter double clear with Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Margot (L'Arc de Triomphe x Apache D'Adriers) – had shot Spain up the standings, but Moya fell victim to the last part of the triple and then saw the penultimate vertical hit the ground as well to see his team end on 12 faults overall.

This was also the result for Italy, who’s man-on-fire Lorenzo De Luca again went double clear on the spectacular Armtiages Boy (Armitage x Feo) – a result good enough to share the third step on the podium with the Spanish boys.  

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson They secured the win: Peder Fredricson and H&M All In.

Last to go for Sweden was Peder Fredricson and H&M All In (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Andiamo Z), who met the course for the first time of the day. A double clear from pathfinders Henrik von Eckermann and Cantinero (Cento x Cash) had set the Swedes off to the best possible start in round two. However, Rolf-Göran Bengtsson and Clarimo Ask (Clearway x CalettoII) could not come to start for round two and the Swedes were left vulnerable when Douglas Lindelöw – next to go in their order – had to see four faults as his final result after a first clear on Zacramento (Cardento x Cortus). Despite the pressure, the Olympic silver medallists from Rio made light work of the track just popping around – adding another clear to Sweden’s record and leaving them on a total of four faults to take the lead.

As the final team in the ring, Switzerland had the chance to secure a jump-off against Sweden. Steve Guerdat and the flashy Bianca (Balou du Rouet x Cardento) had jumped a beautiful double clear as pathfinders, but eight faults from Romain Duguet and four from Werner Muff had put the pressure on – and now it was up to Martin Fuchs and Clooney (Cornet Obolensky x Ferragamo) to solve the riddle. Straight from their Grand Prix victory in Treffen, the two set off around the track for the first time in the competition – but already at the third fence the grey gelding showed a small dislike to the questions asked pulling out to the left and breaking up the rhythm. However, Fuchs kept Clooney on track and cleared the vertical but after touching fence eight the luck was over and the couple fell victim to the first element of the triple combination to put the Swiss team on eight faults overall – and pushing them down to second place behind Sweden.

“I was happy that it was my turn to have a double clear,” said Henrik von Eckermann on behalf of Team Sweden after the Nations Cup. “I am really happy with my horse, he was out for a long time and then back now in a shape that he has never been before. He has an unbelievable character, so I am really happy to have him back.”

“My first round was fantastic,” joked Peder Fredricson after not having to jump before round two. “No, I was really happy with my round. This was All In’s first 1.60 since the Olympic Games as he had surgery, so I am very happy that he is back in good form again.”

 


Text © World of Showjumping // Pictures © Jenny Abrahamsson

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