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The Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup in Al Ain to Ukraina

Friday, 07 February 2014

Ulrich Kirchhoff and Chacclan for the Ukrainian team. Photo: FEI/Neville Hopwood.The Ukrainian team won the opening leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup 2014 series at Al Ain Thursday evening. The win came after a jump-off between Ukraine and Qatar, were Cassio Rivetti and the 16-year-old Vivant secured the victory for Ukraine after a clear round that was 0.72 seconds quicker than that off Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani who rode against the clock for Qatar aboard Vienna Olympic. 

With their performance in Al Ain, the Qatar team are on the road to the Furusiyya 2014 Final in Barcelona in October along with the third-place Saudi Arabia.

A total of six nations started in this season-opener, but only four completed.  Syria slotted into fourth place with 34 faults while the UAE, already lying fifth after the first round, retired from round two.  Meanwhile it was all over for Jordan by the halfway stage after elimination for two of their four riders.  Only three countries - Saudi Arabia, Qatar and United Arab Emirates - were chasing the two qualifying spots.

The Ukrainians got off to the perfect start with three clears, so anchorman, Ulrich Kirchhoff, retired his grey gelding Chaccland first time out.  But the Qatari team was close behind, carrying just the single time fault collected by Khalid Al Emadi and Tamira after both Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani and Vienna Olympic and Ali Yousef Al Rumaihi and the Palloubet D’Halong, former ride of Switzerland’s Janika Sprunger, each went clear.

As round two got underway it seemed it really should be a walk in the park for the Ukrainians even though they had only a one-point advantage, but Rivetti’s Vivant lowered the third element of the combination and the oxer at nine before Alexander Onishchenko returned with 15 penalties aboard Carlina after the pair produced a great first clear.

So when Ferenc Szentirmai and Quickdiamond followed their opening clear with a mistake at the fence nine and then Ulrich Kirchhoff concluded with a single time penalty, the scoreboard showed a total of 13 faults after two rounds.  This was exactly the same amount as the Qataris, and it was jump-off time in Al Ain.

Rivetti was chosen to take on Sheikh Al Thani against the clock and, first to go, the Qatari rider produced a brilliant turn from the oxer at five to the vertical at ten to stop the clock on 27.24 seconds. But Rivetti is very experienced against the clock, and had no problem shaving off time to take the win.

“It is just the start we were looking for” said Ukrainian team manager, Najib Chami, afterwards.  “This is our first show for the year and we’re glad to have made it.  We are building our team ahead of our Division 1 shows” he explained.  Ukraine will take no points from today’s competition because they compete in Europe Division 1, the most high-profile of the four Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping leagues that will be staged across the globe over the coming months.

Team anchorman, Ulrich Kirchhoff who claimed individual gold for Germany at the Olympic Games in Atlanta (USA) in 1996, said “we took of a bit of a risk today but we were able to deal with it as we have the experience.  In the end we pulled it off and it was very good”.
And the result was a delight for the businessman who has brought riders from a wide variety of countries together to create the Ukrainian side. “For me this show has been a big success.  It is my first FEI Nations Cup™ competition at 5-Stars. We had a great result in the first round and I’m very happy for this. It’s a great way to start (the year). We have the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ this year, and the qualifiers for the Olympic Games, and we have a strong team,” said Alexander Onishchenko with a definite hint of ambition.

Click here for full results.

Source: Press release from the FEI.

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