It was a close call in Friday’s Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Europe Division 1 in St. Gallen, as only one penalty separated the winning team Great Britain from the Spanish runner-up team when the two rounds of competition were done. Ending on a score of three and four respectively, the two teams were in a league of their own – leaving a climbing Swedish team to third on ten penalties. It was Daniel Neilson on Varo M (Pierrot x Weinfurst), Spencer Roe on Wonder Why (Padinus x Laurin), Robert Whitaker on Catwalk IV (Colman x Corleone) and Guy Williams on Zaire (Indoctro x Marlon) that jumped their way to the top in the Swiss Nations Cup.
Luckily for all teams present, the weather gods were in a good mood today – and although it had rained during the night the ground conditions this year were good. The 1.60 track set was needless to say big enough, and included a combination with a vertical-oxer at 4and b on seven or eight strides to the open water followed by another seven or eight strides to an oxer. Then there was little time to breathe as a vertical followed with eight strides into the triple combination – where the oxer out caught many as the distance was really short from the mid-element. The plank at nine also fell on numerous occasion, before three more fences waited. It was the time allowed at 80 seconds that was the big heartbreaker though, and in the end also what separated the two top teams. Only two pairs managed to ride double clear rounds within the time allowed; Spain’s Sergio Alvarez Moya and Sweden’s Peder Fredricson.
After the first round Great Britain was in the lead on a score of only one penalty, as 21 year old Spencer Roe recorded only one time fault, and Robert Whitaker and Guy Williams both produced fantastic first clear rounds – making it possible to discharge Neilson’s score of twelve penalties after Varo M jumped an uncharacteristic first round hitting three rails. Spain followed close behind on two penalties as Manuel Fernandez Zaro and Eduardo Alvarez Aznar had only a time penalty each, and Sergio Alvarez Moya went clear – discharging Paola Amilibia’s faults. Last weekend’s winning team Belgium was lying in third on six penalties, Ukraine in fourth, Sweden in fifth, Switzerland sixth, France seventh and The Netherlands eight.
And Great Britain delivered in round two as well. Daniel Neilson bounced back, and opened up with a determined clear round on Varo M – giving his team the best possible start. When Spencer Roe and the very well jumping Wonder Why yet again left the fences intact to record only a time penalty, and Robert Whitaker followed up with another fabulous round on Catwalk IV only to end on a time fault the team had a score of four penalties before the anchor riders entered the ring and nobody could threaten their top position.
The Spanish team did a smashing job in round to as well though, and was breathing the Brits in the neck as Manuel Fernandez Zaro on Darius (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Wiensender) and Eduardo Alvarez Aznar on Rico Revel (Quite Easy x Zeppelin) yet again jumped with only a time penalty each, and Sergio Alvarez Moya went double clear as last to go on the lovely Zipper (Apple Juice x Concorde). Paola Amilibia was maximum unlucky as third to go for the Spanish team as she hit the final vertical and had the rail down on Prunella D’Ariel (Diamant de Semilly), but thanks to her team mates it was in the end still good enough for second place as her scores were discharged.
Belgium could not keep it up for round two though, and both Philippe Le Jeune and Olivier Philippaerts who only had a time penalty each in the first round – like their team mates – had poles down in the second round. Despite opening with two clear rounds from Cassio Rivetti and Katharina Offel, Ukraine could not keep it together and fell down to rank five ahead of Belgium.
Sweden and Switzerland on the other hand climbed. With three of four riders without faults on the fences – Emma Emanuelsson on Titan (Camaro M x Cardento) and Niklas Jonsson on Caral (Casir Ask x Ralme Z) had a time fault each, while Peder Fredricson was double clear on a fantastic jumping H&M Sibon (Sibon W x Baloubet du Rouet) – Douglas Lindelöw’s one fence down on Casello (Casall x Carolus) could be discharged and the Swedes were left on a ten penalty score to make it to the podium. It could have been the same result for the home team as well, but when anchor rider Steve Guerdat’s Nino des Buissonnets (Kannan x Narcos II) hit the a-element into the combination the final result became fourteen penalties after two rounds of jumping putting the Swiss team fourth.
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