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Italy takes a historic FEI Nations Cup win on home soil in Rome

Friday, 26 May 2017
CSIO5* Rome 2017

Photo (c) Nanna Nieminen for World of Showjumping. A happy Italian team celebrate their win in Rome. Photo (c) Nanna Nieminen for World of Showjumping.

The third leg of the FEI Nations Cup in Europe Division 1 saw Italy take an emotional win on home soil at the breath-taking Piazza di Siena, right in the heart of Rome.

The last time the Italians could celebrate a home win was in 1985 – but coming in this year with a team perhaps stronger than ever, the enthusiastic crowds were in for a treat. Piergiorgio Bucci on Casallo Z (Casall x Carthago Z), Alberto Zorzi on Fair Light van’t Heike (Vigo d'Arsouilles x Darco), Lorenzo de Luca on Ensor de Litrange Lxii (Nabab de Reve x Mr.Blue) and Bruno Chimirri on Tower Mouche (Diamant de Semilly x Bleu Blanc Rouge II) kept the audience on the edge of their seats, and you could have heard a pin drop during their rides – and in contrast the arena exploded when the riders went clear.

Ending on a team total of nine faults, it was Alberto Zorzi who turned out to be the true home hero on Fair Light van’t Heike, producing a double clear result over two rounds.

After the first round over the 1.60m course set by Italian master mind Uliano Vezzani, it was the Dutch that shared the pole position with the Italians on a score of four faults. The course that had 12 obstacles and 15 efforts in it, saw faults occur all around – although most problems were seen in the triple combination at fence eight or at the oxer number 11 that followed the wide, open water. Also the time allowed caused a few issues, with ten riders gathering time faults on the first round.

The Netherlands, ending second, showed once more the importance of the drop score: Jeroen Dubbeldam on SFN Zenith N.O.P. (Rash x Fuego du Prelet) did an uncharacteristic performance with 26 faults in the first round and the pair retired in round two. Regardless, the team finished in runner-up position with Gerco Schröder on Glock's Cognac Champblanc (Clearway x Caretino 2), Jur Vrieling on VDL Glasgow vh Merelsnest (Nabab de Reve x Darco) and Marc Houtzager on Sterrehof's Calimero (Quidam de Revel x Libero H) gathering a team total of 13 faults.

Fresh off their second place finish in La Baule two weeks ago, it was team Sweden with Malin Baryard-Johnsson on Cue Channa (Cardento 933 x Robin Z), Jonna Ekberg on Cassini Bay (Cassini I x Acord II), Douglas Lindelöw on Zacramento (Cardento x Cortus) and Henrik von Eckermann on Copperphild (Cornet Obolensky x Pilot) that held the third spot heading into round two. Lindelöw and Zacramento produced one of only three double clear performances of the day, but it was not enough to save the team score and in the end Sweden had to settle on sharing the fifth spot with France as both Spain and Ireland pushed on over them in the second round.

The Irish team with Shane Sweetnam on Chaqui Z (Chacco-Blue x Quinar Z), Paul Kennedy on Cartown Danger Mouse (Harlequin du Carel), Mark McAuley on Utchan de Belheme (Calvaro x Mr.Blue) and Shane Breen on Golden Hawk (Vigo d'Arsouilles x Chin Chin) showed that consistency does pay off, as they in the end shared the third place with team Spain, both teams collecting a team total of 17 points. Sweetnam on Chaqui Z and Breen on Golden Hawk were the Irish heroes, both going clear on the second round.

The Spanish team with Manuel Fernandez Saro on U Watch (President x Nabab de Reve), Eduardo Alvarez Aznar on Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Margot (L'Arc de Triomphe x Apache d'Adriers), Pilar Lucrecia Cordon on Galine La Cour Zichelhof (Major de la Cour x Ramiro) and Sergio Alvarez Moya on Arrayan (Baloubet du Rouet x Grannus) could also celebrate two clears on the second round, with both Alvarez Aznar on Rokfeller and Alvarez Moya on Arrayan performing flawless.

The third double clear performance of the day was made by Steve Guerdat and Bianca (Balou du Rouet x Cardento) for the Swiss team.

Piazza di Siena was packed with people and it was excitement pure all the way to the end. After the second last rider it was clear that the home team had taken a historic win, and the crowds could not contain their emotions. To standing ovations, it was the Italian Chef d'Equipe Roberto Arioldi that was raised to the air by his team riders as the audience sang the national anthem during the prize giving.

"There was so much expectation and a lot of pressure, but in the end we had a really strong team and we are very proud…it was time!" said Lorenzo de Luca on Team Italy afterwards. 

Alberto Zorzi, who nailed it with a double clear for the home team, said: "Before the class I wondered if I could do it, but when my mare was good in the warm-up it motivated me. In the first round she was strong and I had to hold her off the fences, but in the second round she was much more settled and she jumped even better. We were all riding well, we really wanted this win today and we all made it happen!" 


Text and picture © World of Showjumping by Nanna Nieminen

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