The last leg of the Top League kicks off in Dublin tomorrow afternoon. It will no doubt be a battle, with only 3.5 points separating the bottom six teams. Germany is – at least in theory – already the winner of the series, as they have notched up 47 points over the season and are 10 points ahead of current rank two France. It a close race between Great Britain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Ireland and Belgium though – with points from 32-28.5 it’s really tight at the bottom.
All the teams bring some serious good riders to Dublin. The pressure is on for all of them to perform well in order stay in the Top League, and it goes without saying that great rounds are needed from all of them – especially the three teams at the bottom; the Netherlands, Ireland and Belgium. It’s a strong Dutch team that meets up in Dublin though, with Marc Houtzager and Jur Vrieling fresh from London with team silver, in-form Jeroen Dubbeldam that recently won the Grand Prix in San Patrignano and Albert Voorn together with Hendrik Jan Schuttert. Bottom-ranked Belgium has Dirk Demeersman, Pieter Devos, Francois Mathy Jr., and father-and-son Ludo and Olivier Philippaerts on the team. The latter two with some good rounds to look back at in this year’s Top League season – but they need to repeat that as the Irish team is a slim 0.5 points ahead of them. Ireland has Olympic individual bronze medalist Cian O’Connor on their team, and Billy Twomey, US-based Darragh Kerins and Richie Moloney will help him defend the Irish honor on home soil.
FEI Top League 2012 - Standings after Round 7 at Hickstead:
1. Germany - 47
2. France - 37
3. Great Britain - 32
4. Sweden - 31.5
4. Switzerland - 31.5
6. Netherlands - 29.5
7. Ireland - 29
8. Belgium - 28.5
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