Team Turkey really put themselves on the map today with a superb victory at the fourth leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Europe Division 2 League in Sopot, Poland. In a 10-nation contest it seemed the host country would come out on top as they led the way at the halfway stage and remained in contention during the second round.
But as every Chef d'Equipe is quick to point out, it is clear rounds that decide results at the end of the day, and two of those clinched it for Mert Alicioglu's Turkish side who had threatened from the outset. This was Turkey's debut in the Furusiyya series, and a most impressive one. With three further qualifying opportunities available to them, they have the Furusiyya 2014 Final now very much in their sights.
Poland had to settle for runner-up spot this afternoon ahead of Norway in third, Denmark in fourth and Germany in fifth place. The Italian team rose from the bottom of the pile to finish sixth while Hungary slotted into seventh and Belgium finished last of the eight teams that made the cut into the second round. Sweden and Finland were side-lined at the end of round one, and it wasn't good news for the Finns who, along with Denmark, Hungary, Norway, Poland and Turkey, were chasing points towards the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2014 Final at Barcelona, Spain in October.
Today's result may have been a bit frustrating for the host side, but Poland has now moved to the top of the Europe Division 2 leaderboard ahead of Denmark and Italy in joint-second place as the series moves on to Budapest, Hungary in July.
Polish course designer, Lukasz Jankowski, gave them plenty to think about today, and although faults were scattered all through the 12-fence track, the triple combination just two fences from home proved the most influential obstacle during the afternoon.
The first three fences, an oxer, vertical and another oxer, were straight-forward, but once they turned left-handed to the 1.55m vertical at fence four things got a good deal more serious. This began a snaking line that brought them to a wide oxer at fence 5, 1.50m high and stretching them 1.70m across, before re-aligning on a right-bend to a water-tray oxer standing 1.50m tall and 1.60m wide. Then it was time to prepare for the 3.70m wide open water which was quickly followed by a double of verticals at fence 8 and then a turn-back to a big triple-bar. Horses had to be rideable enough to reach out over the triple bar and then come back into their rider's hands for the first of the two 1.60m verticals on the track, and there were a significant number of faults here before turning left-handed to the last two tests on the course.
The Longines triple combination - oxer, vertical, oxer - wasn't easy as Turkish anchorman, Omer Karaevli, explained. "The first distance was normal, but the second was a very short two strides so you needed a really quick horse to jump through it successfully" he pointed out, adding, "this arena is small and the course was very technical because fences were coming up so quickly everywhere". The final vertical also stood a full 1.60m tall.
The Polish team were out in front counting just four faults as the second round began. But they only had a fence in hand over Turkey and Norway who were sharing second spot with eight faults on the board. Germany and Denmark were also on level-pegging with 12 faults each while Hungary carried 18, Belgium 23 and Italy brought up the rear with 24 to date.
The Turkish side began to flex their muscle with a second-round opening clear from 20-year-old Derin Demirsoy and Harry K whose only mistake first time out was at the vertical at fence 10. Polish pathfinder, Jaroslaw Skrzyczynski faulted at exactly the same spot when the aptly-named Crazy Quick, who had been foot-perfect at his first attempt, got a bit too buzzy after the triple bar, while Norway's opening partnership of Stein Endresen made a brilliant recovery from first-round elimination to lower only the very last fence this time out. Their first-round dismissal came at the water-tray oxer at six when Cassiopeia decided to call a sudden halt to proceedings as the front pole seemed a long way off, subsequently dumping his rider on the ground.
There were six countries fighting for points at this leg of the series and Poland, Turkey and Norway were amongst them. These three would battle it out to the very end of the day. Geir Gulliksen, who kept the Norwegians in the frame with his first-round clear, lowered just the first element of the penultimate triple combination this time out with Edesa S Banjan while Turkey's second-line combination of Husnu Dinc and Chiara, also fault-free in round one, likewise returned with four faults at their second attempt.
The host country began to look vulnerable when Marek Lewicki and Abigej hit the oxer at fence three and the final vertical, but Piotr Morsztyn and Osadkowski van Halen pulled it back for them when leaving all the fences intact and only missing out on a double-clear performance when clocking up a single time fault.
By now Dag Ove Kingsrod and Dimaro VD Looise Heide had registered their second four-fault result for Norway, so, at very best, his team would now finish on a minimum of 16 faults and it was left to Turkey and Poland to slug it out for maximum points. When Turkey's Cagri Basel and Chaccomo posted a nine-fault score after bringing down two elements of the triple combination it was up to Omer Karaevli and Dadjak ter Puttenen to keep them in with a chance. A clear would leave them on a total of 12 faults and really pile the pressure on Poland. And the 36-year-old Dutch-based rider steered his 11-year-old Belgian-bred horse home to a zero score.
Poland's Andrezj Gloskowski knew what was required as he entered the arena with Cros as the last rider of the competition. Nothing but a clear round would suffice as even one fence down would leave his team carrying 13 faults, just one more than Turkey, at the end of the day. And when the water-tray oxer at six hit the floor as well as the last element of the triple combination it was done and dusted. The Turkish team finished with a five-fault advantage over their hosts in second place while the Norwegians would hold on to third.
Omer Karaevli talked about the winning team's plans coming to today's event at Sopot. "We want to give everyone a chance, so we put together a good team for here, some are new but we have some good horses and riders and our goal is to qualify for the WEG and the Olympics" said the rider who has been living in The Netherlands for the last 18 years.
"For this show I was going to ride my nine-year-old horse but I talked with my team yesterday and decided I should ride Dadjak instead, even though he is not quite in top form yet. This is only his second show this year, so I'm very happy for him to do so well today!" he pointed out.
Karaevli continued "Dadjak won the World Cup in Abu Dhabi last year and won two other Grand Prix classes as well. We competed in three Global Champions Tour classes with just one fence down and we finished fourth in the GCT Masters in Vienna. Normally I compete mainly as an individual but we are working on building up our Turkish team now and we have the opportunity because we have support for our programme. Our Federation has put together a special budget for this Furusiyya League" he explained.
He was delighted with how his team-mates performed today. "I must say Husnu (Dinc) did really well, he has less experience internationally although he has competed in many national shows. I have a lot of competitive experience over the last two/three years so I know a bit more where to stay calm and to give my horse time to organise himself and when not to change anything. I've helped him (Husnu) a few times" Karaevli said.
"With Cagri (Basel) he made a mistake in the first round when he tried to take his horse back too quickly after the water. He needed to go (to the next fence) on seven (strides) - I told him don't go eight, keep it quiet and let the horse do the work and he jumped that line beautifully in the second round" Karaevli added. And he's very excited about the potential of today's pathfinder, Derin Demirsoy, who belied his age with a very mature performance.
Demirsoy made history in 2011 when he was the first Turkish rider ever to take an individual Junior medal at the FEI European Championships at Comporta in Portugal where he claimed silver. Prior to that he had been a three-time team gold medallist at the FEI Balkan Children's Championships and it is no surprise that he has been nominated by his Federation for the 2016 Olympic Games. He trained with Bert Romp and Jos Lansink earlier in his career, and he started riding with Henk Nooren in Belgium in April 2012 and is now based there while continuing his studies at Maastricht University.
Cagri Basel said at this evening's press conference "I have been to the World Equestrian Games before and, to be honest, this event is great preparation for the WEG. The obstacles are a bit wider and more difficult in WEGs but Sopot is great nevertheless. We want to congratulate the OC on the new facilities – they are now on another level" he said.
And he pointed out that there was a great deal of optimism in the Turkish side before today's event. "We believe in ourselves – Turkey always has great team spirit and we really wanted to do something special here. We want to be successful and expected to win. After the first round, we had a feeling something good would happen. The reason we won here in Sopot is largely down to the great horse-rider combinations we enjoy" he said.
There was a very positive streak running right through the Turkish side. "Now that we have a strong senior team we felt ready to start competing in the Furusiyya series" said Demirsoy. "We are very confident. We hope to make history, and hope to have more memorable moments like this!" he added.
And Turkish Chef d'Equipe, Mert Alicioglu, underlined that sense of confidence. "Three years ago we competed here, we enjoy events like this. We wanted to start here at Sopot because we knew this event would be lucky for us – and we were right!" And when asked if he thought his team might be capable of winning the Europe Division 2 series he replied "we will see whether that proves to be the case!"
His next opportunity to make it happen will be when his side lines out at the fifth leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Europe Division 2 series in Budapest (HUN) in four weeks' time.
For further information on round 11 of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2014 series in Sopot, Poland go to website www.csio.sopot.pl or contact Press Officer Agnieszka Bilda, Email firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel +48 531 208050. The next leg of the series takes place at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Canada on Friday 13 June. This is the third and final leg of the North America, Central America and Caribbean League 2014. For all information on the Canadian fixture go to website www.sprucemeadows.com or contact Press Officer Jennifer Wood, Email email@example.com,Tel +1 803 240 7488. The next leg of the Europe Division 2 League takes place at Budapest, Hungary on Friday 4 July.
1. Turkey 12 faults: Harry K (Derin Demirsoy) 4/0, Chiara (Husnu Dinc) 0/4, Chaccomo (Cagri Basel) 6/9, Dadjak ter Puttenen (Omer Karaevli) 4/0.
2. Poland 17 faults: Crazy Quick (Jaroslaw Skrzycznski) 0/4, Abigej (Marek Lewicki) 12/8, Osadkowski van Halen (Piort Morsztyn) 0/1, Cros (Andrezj Gloskowski) 4/8.
3. Norway 20 faults: Cassiopeia (Stein Endresen) Elim/4, Edesa S Banjan (Geir Gulliksen) 0/4, Dimaro VD Looise Heide (Dag Ove Kingsroed) 4/4, CC Top (Olie Kristoffer Meland) 4/12.
4. Denmark 21 faults: Leonardo der Kleine (Andreas Schou) 0/0, Qualico du Bobois (Rikke Haastrup) 8/5, Amarone (Thomas Sandgaard0 12/16, Tailormade Experanza de Rebel (Soeren Pedersen) 4/4.
5. Germany 24 faults: Forchello (Christian Kukuk) 4/0, Tabou Z (Tobias Thoenes) 0/4, Baldira (Philip Rupling) 12/8, Comtessa (Henrik Griese) 8/8.
6. Italy 36 faults: Winn Winn (Gianni Govoni) 4/8, Triomphe Van Schuttershof (Davide Sbardella) 8/4, Ram Watch Ambra (Roberto Previtali) 12/0, Mon Flipper (Emanuele Fiorelli) 12/Ret.
7. Hungary 38 faults: Catara (Attila Tecsy) 8/Elim, Dr Oklund (Gyula Szuhal) 24/5, PM Jumping Lady (Balazs Horvath) 4/ 0 Timpex Cent (Gabor Szabo) 8/13.
8. Belgium 39 faults: Ebano (Bert Prouve) 8/8, Faemes van T Poelzelhof (Quinten Bradt) 15/8, Quax (Marc Boes) 16/20, Emilie de Diamant AS (Jan Vinckier) 0/0.
9. Sweden 20 faults in first round: Caleno 3 (Jenny Johansson) 8, Cornet 39 (Irma Karlsson) 24, Audi's Valentino (Elina Petersson0 4, Bill Breaker (Wilma hellstrom) 8.
10. Finland 29 faults in first round: Cue Channa 42 (Sebastian Numminen) 12, Cosma Shiva (Lotta-Rikke Rintamaki) 8, Celestine (Satu Liukkonen) 9, Avantos (Juulia Jylas) 16.
Source: Press release from the FEI.org.
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