The newly-crowned world champions from the Netherlands added another big title to their tally, when they won yesterday's Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Final in Barcelona. With three brilliant clear rounds from their first three riders – Jeroen Dubbeldam on Zenith SFN (Rash R x Fuego du Prelet), Maikel van der Vleuten on VDL Groep Verdi TN N.O.P (Quidam de Revel x Landgraf I) and Jur Vrieling on VDL Bubalu (Baloubet du Rouet x Nimmerdor) – the Dutch were in a class own their own.
As last to go for the Dutch team, Gerco Schröder and Glock's London (Nabab de Reve x Chin Chin) did not even have to ride. Nevertheless, after a clear round on Thursday Gerco was up for winning his share of the €200,000 bonus on offer to the horse-and-rider combinations that delivered a double clear round. So, when lowering a rail Schröder retired the chestnut stallion.
"Our Chef d'Equipe Rob Ehrens is really good at team-building, he is a positive man, and he can really inspire us. He has inspired Jeroen Dubbeldam to a completely other level, and Jeroen is now the best rider in the world for sure. This Final has been unbelievably good, and I think we all owe that to Rob," Jur Vrieling insisted after the Dutch win.
It was the Canadian team that came closest to the Dutch when ending on an overall score of four penalties. After four faults from Yann Candele and Showgirl (Gold De Becourt x Elf III), Tiffany Foster produced a clear round on Tripple X III (Namelus R x Cantango) – while Ben Asselin like Candele had one down on Makavoy (Hors la Loi II x Ahorn). Eric Lamaze stayed cool as ice as anchor rider though, and produced a clear round on Zigali P S (Kigali x Palfrenier) to give Canada the second place.
The Swedish team finished third, thanks to two great clear rounds from their last two riders. The pressure was on for Malin Baryard-Johnsson with H&M Tornesch (Lux x Libero H) and Henrik von Eckermann on Cantinero (Cento x Cash) after Peder Fredricson picked up eight faults on H&M Sibon (Sibon W x Baloubet du Rouet) and Alexander Zettermann twelve on Cafino (Cardento x Roderik). But, both Malin and Henrik kept calm under the pressure to secure Sweden that last spot on the podium.
After the Dutch win, Chef d'Equipe Rob Ehrens commented: "Every team is evenly matched, but I must say for a coach it's not often you have four riders on a team who can finish the job the way mine do. They can go into the arena with an instruction and follow it right up to the finish line. Add to that these four brilliant horses, and that's what you need to win."
Maikel van der Vleuten said that none of the Dutch team are taking anything for granted. "Yes, we've had a wonderful season, we have enjoyed a lot of success but I think it's important that when you have success that all four riders remember that the next Nations Cup can be very different to the last. As Rob said, a fault is easily done, so we all four know that we have to be sharp in every competition and try to get the best out of it".
"It feels very good I must say. Today I had to make up for some mistakes I made on the first day - as I said already I just wanted to check if the other boys were sharp, and they were! But today I had to be sharp as well because today the pressure was on and it was top sport. We knew we needed for sure three clear rounds today to win, and it did turn out to be necessary to have three clear rounds. I think we have a wonderful team - these guys here are not only unbelievable riders, they are also unbelievable mates, fantastic friends and fighters, we fight for each other and I am very proud of this Dutch team!" Jeroen Dubbeldam said afterwards.
A total of four riders shared the €200,000 bonus on offer to those jumping clear in both Thursday's opening round and again last night - the Netherlands' Jur Vrieling and Maikel van der Vleuten, Sweden's Henrik von Eckermann and Germany's Daniel Deusser.
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