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The Dutch do it again with a third title at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final in Barcelona

Sunday, 03 October 2021
CSIO5* Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final 2021

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WOSJ Harrie Smolders, Maikel van der Vleuten, Willem Greve, Kevin Jochems and Sanne Thijssen celebrating the Dutch win in Barcelona. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

For a third time, the Dutch team claimed the title at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final in Barcelona. Rob Ehrens’ squad won in 2014 and in 2017, and today they repeated themselves with a third victory at the Real Club de Polo de Barcelona – this time with Maikel van der Vleuten on Beauville Z (Bustique x Jumpy des Fontaines), Willem Greve on Carambole (San Patrignano Cassini x Concerto II), Sanne Thijssen on Con Quidam RB (Quinar x Cardino) and Harrie Smolders on Monaco (Cassini II x Contender) on the team. 

“I think in Holland we all work hard, we stay patient, and we keep believing,” Harrie Smolders said about the formula for the Dutch success, that year after year bring them to new titles, trophies and medals.

“We had a bit of a struggle the whole year, we had good performances but still in the end, not everything came out the way we wished,” Ehrens commented after the title was secured. “I must give big compliments to all my riders – and, as Harrie also said, we all fight together. We don’t have those big names, who when they win a bit go in a completely different direction, and I think that’s also one of the strong pillars of the Dutch team. It’s always about finding the right magic for the team wherever you want to go, but this worked out really well here and that’s only the big achievement of the five riders who made a perfect management with their horses, wanted to do everything for their country and then showed us today with a marvellous performance. It was a thriller I must say, just amazing.”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Double clear for the Dutch team in Barcelona: Maikel van der Vleuten and Beauville Z. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Eight of the fifteen teams in Barcelona had qualified for today’s title-decider: Belgium, Ireland, USA, Sweden, Brazil, Netherlands, Spain and Germany. Eventually, it turned into a battle between four of them. For today’s final, Olympic course designer Santiago Varela had yet again built a masterpiece – the thirteen-fence track was big, delicate and technical, and was a major factor in keeping the competition exciting to the very end. The most demanding part came last, with a tricky Longines triple combination consisting of an upright-oxer-oxer where rails on the two latter elements fell again and again. The final airy Longines upright claimed victims too, and in the end 12 of the 32 horse-and-rider combinations managed to answer all the questions asked and delivered clear rounds. “I think the horses jumped very well on this course,” Smolders said about Varela’s track. “You could also see this on the results, it was very close – and that’s what makes our sport exciting, when it comes down to the last rider.”

It was Ireland’s Denis Lynch that set the first clear of the class, when putting in some serious hard work aboard Cristello (Numero Uno x Voltaire) to keep all the poles in the cups. A few riders later, Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann made it look like a walk in the park aboard the incredible King Edward (Edward 28 x Feo) to go clear too – producing one of the three double clear rounds of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final. Then, the Netherlands’ Maikel van der Vleuten joined in as well with Beauville Z – delivering the second double clear performance. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Willem Greve gave all the credit to the incredible 17-year-old stallion Carambole, that jumped a clear round today to help the Dutch team to the win. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Things were starting to look really good for defending champions Ireland when Eoin McMahon – their second rider in the ring – recorded only a single time penalty with Chacon 2 (Chacco-Blue x Aventyo). Reigning Olympic Champions Sweden did it even better though as Malin Baryard-Johnsson and H&M Indiana (Kashmir van’t Schuttershof x Animo’s Hallo) made light work of the course to jump clear. So did Dutch rider Willem Greve on the mighty Carambole, and the pressure was on as the third riders in the team rotation started to enter the ring. 

After a pole down from both Nicola Philippaerts and Niels Bruynseels – the latter who agonizingly had the last upright down – Belgium bounced back with a clear from their faithful pair Jerome Guery and Quel Homme de Hus (Quidam de Revel x Candillo). Adding to the excitement, Ireland’s Michael Duffy and Zilton SL Z (Zirocco Blue VDL x Indoctro) recorded eight faults, while Sweden’s Angelie von Essen’s Alcapone des Carmille (Diamant de Semilly x Heartbreaker) was caught out by the middle element of the triple combination. This was also the case for Dutch rider Sanne Thijssen – and now the pathfinders of these three teams really needed to deliver. 

With clears from Swedish and Dutch anchors Rolf-Göran Bengtsson and Harrie Smolders, a jump-off would be secured and breathing them in the neck allowing no room for errors was Ireland who with a clear round from Darragh Kenny could finish on a single penalty. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Clear on Friday, four faults today: 22-year-old Sanne Thijssen has impressed with Con Quidam RB. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

The pressure increased when Gregory Wathelet, last-to-go for Belgium, yet again delivered with the 13-year-old stallion Nevados S (Calvados x Romualdo) to go clear – putting his team on a total score of four, leaving no room for mistakes from the top three anchors. 

Ireland’s Darragh Kenny did not crack under the pressure though and jumped an outstanding round with the incredibly consistent VDL Cartello (Cartani 4 x Lord) – punching his helmet in the air in pure joy as the Irish finished on a score of one, and probably also celebrating his share of the 100.000 Euro bonus awarded to those riders with a double clear round. 

The Swedish hopes now rested on Bengtsson’s shoulders, but like so many others, Ermindo W (Singapore x Carinjo) was caught out by the triple combination and the two finished with two rails down to end with the drop-score – leaving Sweden on the four faults from Von Essen. With a slower total time, the Swedes dropped down behind Belgium that now found themselves on the podium with their score of four. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ “To finish the job like that, it’s how dreams come true,” Harrie Smolders said about delivering a clear as last to go for the Dutch team with Monaco. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Now it was all down to Harrie Smolders, who also was on the winning Dutch team in Barcelona back in 2017. This time around he had brought with him the 12-year-old gelding Monaco for the big occasion, and the two did not disappoint. With nerves of steel, Smolders kept his cool and piloted Monaco around clear – securing the win for the Dutch team as they finished on a clean sheet ahead of Ireland on one penalty and Belgium on four. “To finish the job like that, it’s how dreams come true,” Smolders said about delivering a clear as last to go for his team. 

“Being part of any winning team is always good,” Willem Greve said. “For me, it’s been a very special show because I have had my horse Carambole since he was four. We have had lots of success together; he basically made my career and I owe everything to him. I wish he could be in the press conference, because it’s not about me, it’s about the horse! He is seventeen years old, jumping his heart out for me every time, and for me it’s very emotional that he shows at this stage and at this high level that he is still one of the best horses in the sport. He really deserved a victory like this. I am so proud of him; he deserves all the credit!”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WOSJ Big smiles as Harrie Smolders lifts the Nations Cup trophy for the Dutch team yet again! Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

For Maikel van der Vleuten, the success in Barcelona follows a great summer that has included individual bronze at the Tokyo Olympics. “My horse is in the right shape, and has been so for the last couple of months,” he said about Beauville Z. “I was looking forward to the event here, it’s always very exciting. Our chef d’equipe put me as the first rider on the team, so it was important for me to try to get a clear round which gives a good feeling to start with. I must say, we have five very good riders here and four very good horses today.”

The Dutch riders were all delighted to be back in Barcelona, and to have the Nations Cup Final back in the calendar after it was forced into cancellation last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Greve highlighted the importance of these team events, especially for those not active on other five-star circuits. “I speak for myself as a sportsman,” Greve said. “Nothing beats winning with your nation in a Nations Cup: Nothing, nothing!” 

 



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