Great Britain’s Nick Skelton, Ben Maher, Robert Smith and Scott Brash made it a win in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Europe Division 1 in Dublin on Friday, securing a spot in the final in Barcelona in September. Ahead of the last leg of the division, Britain needed to be fourth or better to get to the final – and after three of their four riders produced second clear rounds they made the most out of their trip to Dublin and took home 100 points to end third on the overall standing. The Netherlands finished off second, while the home team and USA tied for third.
After the first round the Netherlands was in the lead on a four penalty score, after clear round from Albert Voorn on a very well jumping Tobalio (by Numero Uno) and Gert-Jan Bruggink on Primeval Dejavu (by Heartbreaker) - only counting Michel Hendrix's four faults as Hendri-Jan Schutter's twelve penalties were discharged. Then followed Great Britain and Ireland on eight penalties, ahead of three teams that were tied on twelve; France, Germany and USA. In other words; those countries that were in much need of points were still in the run when the second round opened up.
The twelve fence track was demanding enough, and the first round saw nine clears. It was especially the line with the combination at 6a and b with a vertical to an oxer with a water tray beneath on four strides to a vertical at fence 7, followed by a line to the open water at 8, that caused trouble. Quite a few riders also got fences down in the Longines triple combination that was the penultimate challenge.
The second round was opened by Cassio Rivetti who rode the first double clear of the day on the lovely stallion Vivant (by Fuego du Prelet). It didn’t help much for his team though, who ended on a score of 36 penalties overall after not having the best day at work with Oleg Krasyuk having a bad fall in the first round after getting in trouble at 6b. Neither did Spain, who ended at the bottom of the result list - and like Ukraine they had to see one of their riders hitting the grass as Sergio Alvarez Moya and Zipper (by Apple Juice) parted ways at fence seven.
The clears kept ticking in from the team’s first riders though much to the appreciation of the home crowds; Marcus Ehning was clear after a picture perfect round on Plot Blue (by Mr. Blue), Nick Skelton had a tremendous performance on the amazing Big Star (by Quick Star), Dermott Lennon made sure to make the arena explode when he crossed the finish line clear on Loughview Lou Lou (by Limmerick) before Albert Voorn nailed it again for Holland and produced the second double clear of the day.
When Katie Dinan rode clear on Nougat du Vallet (by Scherif d'Elle) as the second rider to go for team USA in round two, things started to look good for the Americans. The same went for Great Britain who got their second clear in round two when Ben Maher produced a beautiful clear on the impressive Cella (by Cento), who he has been selected to ride the Europeans on. Unfortunately rails fell for the rest of the second riders, and it was not until the anchor riders entered the arena that more clears came.
By then Great Britain and the Netherlands were the two best teams; both set at eight penalties before their last riders entered the arena. And Britain’s Scott Brash had really done his homework, and went in to the grass ring in Dublin riding a spotless round on Hello Sanctos (by Quasimodo VD Molendreef) to produce the third of the four double clears of the day – the last one belonged to the world's leading lady rider Beezie Madden and Cortes C (by Randel Z) that with their performance secured a place on the podium for US who tied with the home team on sixteen penalties. It could have been a jump-off if Holland’s last rider Gert-Jan Bruggink had been clear, but four faults on Primeval Dejavu meant that they had to add another four to their score – ending on a total of twelve penalties, and settling for runner-up position behind Great Britain who took home the win and a place in the final in Barcelona on Germany’s cost.
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