The Swiss team will be first into the ring when the FEI Nations Cup Top League 2012 kicks off in La Baule on Friday. The draw took place Thursday morning, and the eight competing nations will go in the following order: 1.Switzerland; 2. Ireland; 3. Great Britain; 4. The Netherlands; 5. Sweden; 6. Germany; 7. Belgium; 8. France. The Swiss team consist of Steve Guerdat/Nasa, Werner Muff/Kiamon, Claudia Gisler/Touchable and Pius Schwizer/Carlina. The Swiss are back in the Top League after winning the Promotional League last season. Click here for the starting order.
As reported yesterday the French have changed the horses on the team. Henk Nooren’s team now consits of Eugénie Angot/Old Chap Tame, Simon Delestre/Valentino, Jérôme Hurel/Ohm de Ponthual and Penelope Leprevost/Topinambour. To FEI the French team manager described his selection as “a good one....they are very talented and their horses are all on the Olympic Games – WEG long list.”
The Irish won the opening leg in La Baule last year, and are probably keen to do it again. Robert Splaine’s squad includes Cian O’Connor/Blue Loyd, Shane Sweetnam/Amaretto Darco, Jessica Kürten/Vincente and Denis Lynch/Lantinus. Rob Hoekstra has a strong team with Ben Maher/Tripple X, Peter Charles/Murka’s Vindicat W, Nick Skelton/Big Star and Guy Williams/Depardieu vant Keizelhof. Both Ben and Tripple X and Nick and Big Star have recently won some big Grand Prix classes; Ben in Valencia and Nick in Antwerp – and should be in form for the opening leg in La Baule.
The Netherlands has only won twice at La Baule - in 1991 and 2000. Could Rob Ehrens’ team make it this time around? Albert Zoer/Sam, Leon Thijssen/Tyson, Marc Houtzager/Sterehof’s Opium and Albert Voorn/Tobalio are on the Dutch team. Houtzager has showed great form lately; with Opium he won the Rabobank Grand Prix less than a month ago. Sweden has returned to the Top League after winning the FEI Promotional League Final in Barcelona last September. It’s a family affair on the Swedish team with brothers Jens Fredricson/Lunatic and Peder Fredricson/H&M Artic Aurora Borealis, along with Peder’s wife Lisen Bratt-Fredricson/Matrix. They are joined by German-based Henrik von Eckerman/Allerdings.
The German colors will be defended by Hans Dieter Dreher/Magnus Romeo, Janne Friederike Meyer/Cellagon Lambrasco, Thomas Voss/Carinjo and Philipp Weishaupt/Catoki. As always they will be dangerous. Niels Bruynseels/Conisha van de Helle, Dirk Demeersman/Bufero Vh Panishof, reigning World Champion Philippe Le Jeune/Vigo D’Arsouilles and Gregory Wathelet/Euphony Cadjanine Z are all on the Belgian team.
You can follow it all LIVE on FEI TV. The series’ first leg at La Baule will be broadcast on Friday, 11 May, at 14.00 CEST (12.00 GMT).