The Brazilian team was outstanding in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Final’s round one in Barcelona on Friday. With three of four riders not touching wood once, the team consisting of Rodrigo Pessoa, Eduardo Menezes, Marlon Zanotelli and Alvaro de Miranda won the first round of the final with a score of one penalty – discharging Menezes elimination as he unfortunately fell off. Second best was Holland, and then followed Belgium – and these three teams will be joined in Sunday’s 1.500.000 Euro final by Ireland, France, Great Britain, Canada and Ukraine.
The Brazilian guys were simply in a league of their own today; with Rodrigo Pessoa making the course look like a walk in the park – which it was certainly not – on Citizenguard Cadjanine Z (Canabis Z x Feinschnitt I), a horse he has had the ride on for only three months. Poor Eduardo Menezes hit the ground as his horse lost the bridle after a bad jump at fence nine, but luckily both horse and rider left the arena intact – and in the elimination could be discharged in the end as both Ashford Farm’s extremely well riding Marlon Zanotelli only notched up a time fault on the lovely Clouwni (Colman x La Zarras) and Alvaro de Miranda was clear on AD Rahmannshof’s Bogeno (Baloubet du Rouet x Elanville).
Holland also had a good day in Barcelona, with Jur Vrieling opening with a clear as their first rider on VDL Bubalu (Baloubet du Rouet x Nimmerdor). Maybe a bit luck helped the pair, as they rubbed the two last elements in the triple combination pretty hard – but all fences stayed intact. Willem Greve rode a very nice round on the fantastic stallion Carambole (Cassini I x Concero), but unfortunately had the vertical at nine down – but Maikel van der Vleuten rode a flawless round on VDL Groep Verdi to finish on a clean sheet and things yet again looked bright for the Dutch boys. So, when Jeroen Dubbeldam had one down on Utascha SFN (Lux Z x Indoctro) he jumped one more fence and left the ring – and Rob Ehren’s men ended on a score of five penalties that belonged to Greve, and it was good enough for second.
The track was demanding, and really separated the best from the rest. Apart from the top two teams – it was extremely tight between the remaining six that made it to the final. Faults spread out, but quite a few got in trouble on the line from the oxer at eight to the vertical at nine, not to forget in the triple combination that followed on a line from a triple bar at fence ten. The b-element in the triple – a tall and wide oxer – fell frequently. In the end only twelve riders cleared the course build by Santiago Varela - also the course builder at the Europeans in Madrid two year sago - without penalties.
Four teams ended on eight faults; Belgium was best of them and took the third position. The one who led the way on the Belgian team was also the youngest – Jos Verlooy on the amazing Domino (Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Azur Depaulstra). Jos was the only clear of the four team members, but Francois Mathy Jr. and Pieter Devos also helped out with only a fence down each so that Nicola Philippaerts’ two down in the triple combination could be discharged.
Ireland, France and Great Britain all followed on eight – but behind Belgium on the total time. Best on the Irish team was Billy Twomey – clear on Tinka’s Serenade (Tinka’s Boy x African Drum), for France Patrice Delaveau was clear on Orient Express HDC (Quick Star x Le Tot de Semilly) and then for Great Britain Scott Brash once again did the job, impressed all and went clear as last to go on Ursula XII (Ahorn x Papageno).
Canada and Ukraine finished one nine penalties – and with better times than USA they took the last two spots for the final on Sunday. Both Tiffany Foster and Eric Lamaze did amazing clear rounds for Canada riding Verdi III (Horse La Loi II x Cantus) and Powerplay (Casall x Limbus) – both horses that have previously been seen under Pius Schwizer, and for Ukraine Cassio Rivetti once again did a fantastic job on the lovely Vivant (Fuego du Prelet x Landino) to go clear as the only on his team.
The remaining teams – ten in all – will get the chance to ride the consolation competition tomorrow, while the eight best will battle it out on Sunday in a very exciting and lucrative final. All nations start on a zero score, and with the added incentive of an additional prize pot of €200,000 which will be equally divided between all those achieving a clear round in the first final competition on Friday, and/or a fault-free effort in the first round on Sunday afternoon, the heat is on.
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