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Belgium best in the CSIO5* Nations Cup Ville de La Baule

Friday, 06 May 2022
CSIO5* Jumping International La Baule 2022

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Belgium won the CSIO5* 1.60m Nations Cup Ville de La Baule at Jumping International La Baule 2022. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.


Text © World of Showjumping



The Belgians were the best in Friday’s CSIO5* 1.60m Nations Cup Ville de La Baule at Jumping International La Baule 2022, impressing from start to finish with a double clear from pathfinder Gregory Wathelet and an ice-cold anchor performance from Jerome Guery who secured the victory as last in the ring in a class that kept the spectators on the edge of their seats until the final fence was jumped.

The teams kept the tension high in the second round of the competition, and with a stellar performance from French anchor rider Kevin Staut, the host nation made a climb up to take the second place, while Canada finished third. 

After the first round of the Nations Cup in La Baule, Belgium and Canada topped the score board on four faults, followed by last year’s winner Switzerland on eight. The French team also had to see eight faults added to their score after the first round, as did Italy. The Germans had nine penalties, while the Swedes – with only three riders – and Brazil were ranked last with a score of twelve. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ A double clear from Gregory Wathelet and Nevados S helped Belgium secure the victory. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

The course designed by Gregory Bodo proved to be a proper test as the first five-star Nations Cup in Europe for 2022. The track counted twelve fences, which included an open water, a tricky double of uprights and a triple combination. It was especially the double of verticals following the open water, and the triple combination that got the riders in trouble – and only three horse-and-rider combinations posted double clears: Gregory Wathelet (BEL) on Nevados S (Calvados Z x Romualdo), Beth Underhill (CAN) on Dieu Merci van T&L (Toulon x Corrado I) and Antonio Maria Garofalo (ITA) on Conquestador (Nabab de Reve x Farmer).

“The course today was very technical, and very good. It was really a top, top course – the whole way it was really important to have a horse with a lot of rideability – you needed a good horse, but also a clever horse,” commented Belgian Chef d’Equipe Peter Weinberg. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ As anchor rider for France, Kevin Staut delivered a clear in round two with Visconti du Telman to secure a second place for the host nation. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Coming into the line-up of the anchor riders for the second round, things had gotten a good shake up on the score board – and it looked like nearly anything could happen if the last pairs in for Germany, Italy, France, Canada and Belgium would deliver clears. However, with two down from German ace Marcus Ehning, as well as from Italian anchor Ricardo Pisani, the two teams’ final scores grew considerably – and any chances for a finish on the podium diminished. 

France could best finish on a score of twelve, and after seeing the Germans end on seventeen penalties, and the Italians on sixteen, the home team could smell the podium. As first out of the four riders, Simon Delestre had delivered an exceptional round on the small but mighty Cayman Jolly Jumper (Hickstead x Quaprice Bois Margot), followed by Megane Moissonnier who after a first clear on Cordial (Casall x Chicago Z) had to see the last two fences fall in round two, while Penelope Leprevost had one down coming into the triple combination with GFE Excalibur de la Tour Vidal (Ugano Sitte x Ogano Sitte). It all came down to Kevin Staut and Visconti du Telman (Toulon x Dollar du Murier), and the former European Champion did not disappoint the fully seated François André Stadium – calmly guiding the 13-year-old mare to a clear round, with the crowds going wild as he crossed the finish line. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Beth Underhill and Dieu Merci van T&L were double clear, to help Canada finish third. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Canada also had the opportunity to finish on a total score of twelve. After a disappointing start to round two, with twelve faults from Yann Candele on his new mount Farezzo (Arezzo VDL x Van Gogh) and eight from Tiffany Foster on Figor (VDL Groep Zagreb x C-Indoctro) – who had been clear in round one, Beth Underhill delivered when it was needed the most and produced an impressive double clear on the powerhouse Dieu Merci van T&L. Amy Millar and Truman (Mylord Carthago*HN x Kolibri) were last to go, and gave it everything they had to cross the finish line clear – leaving Canada on their score of twelve. 

Belgium’s pathfinders Gregory Wathelet and Nevados S had jumped effortlessly double clear, making the course look like a walk in the park – and had given their team the best possible start. Unfortunately, Niels Bruynseels had to see Cristel (Diamant de Semilly x Dobel's Cento) get an unlucky fault on the water jump after being clear in round one, and when Wilm Vermeir’s Iq van het Steentje (Toulon x Kannan) had the first upright in the combination down, Belgium could best finish on eight and there was no room for error on anchor rider Jerome Guery’s side. After a fault in the triple combination in the first round, Guery re-entered the ring determined to post a clear and with his faithful 16-year-old stallion Quel Homme de Hus (Quidam de Revel x Candillo) he lived up to expectations with an ice-cold performance – securing the win for the Belgian boys, ahead of France in second and Canada in third, the two latter teams separated by the time. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ The winning Belgian team in La Baule; Jerome Guery, Niels Bruynseels, Wilm Vermeir and Gregory Wathelet with Chef d'Equipe Peter Weinberg. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“I am delighted to be back here; it is a great venue with great public which support all of the teams,” Gregory Wathelet said after the victory – also complementing course designer Gregory Bodo on the job. “After Covid, it’s great to be back with a full-on show atmosphere. It’s a team effort, and everyone did a great job today.”

“It’s a great show, a great public and a great atmosphere. They are very enthusiastic for all of the teams,” Jerome Guery said. “I was perhaps a bit too confident in my first round, and then in my second round I knew I had to be clear – although that’s hard as last to go.”

“I love to come to La Baule, it’s a great venue and a super show. I have to thank my colleagues, it was a great team effort today I think,” Niels Bruynseels said. 

“I’m always very happy to come back here to La Baule, I also won the Nations Cup here with Germany myself. So, I am happy to come back here as the coach for Belgium and do well,” Peter Weinberg added. “I saw all the strong teams here, and normally Gregory is our last rider but he also has a fast horse in Nevados so we changed the order and let him ride first so that at least the horse would have a bit of time if there would be a jump-off.”

“You also needed a good rider today, but that’s what I’m very happy about with my team – it’s very easy to be their coach because they all can ride, which makes my job a lot easier!” Weinberg closed off with a smile.

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