Samsung Super League With FEI Ready to Go in Rainy Rome
RELEASE: May 22, 2008
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By the International Equestrian Federation
A relentless downpour disrupted the program of competitions at the Piazza di Siena in Rome Thursday afternoon, but spirits remained high amongst the teams preparing for Friday's second leg of the 2008 Samsung Super League with FEI series in which the Swedish side will be pathfinders.
The draw for the competition is as follows:
4. The Netherlands
7. Great Britain
9. Italy Early Indications
Early indications are that this is going to be a tough leg, but the Belgians, winners of the opening round in La Baule two weeks ago, have come prepared with a strong line-up that includes Dirk Demeersman, Pieter Devos, Jos Lansink, Ludo Philippaerts and Peter Postelmans.
The British were the winners at the Italian fixture 12 months ago and 2007 team member John Whitaker, who went on to scoop the Rome grand prix honours with Peppermill, is back in town along with brother Michael, Nick Skelton, Robert Smith, and Tim Stockdale. Having finished seventh of the nine starting teams in the first leg of the 2008 series, British Chef d'Equipe Derek Ricketts will be looking for a better result this time out.
Germany finished second-to-last in La Baule, but the 2006 and 2007 Samsung Super League with FEI champions are coming out with all guns blazing this week. World No. 1 and newly-crowned Rolex FEI World Cup champion Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum is joined by brother-in-law Ludger Beerbaum, Christian Ahlmann, Heinrich-Hermann Engemann and Marco Kutscher, so Kurt Gravemeier's side clearly means business.No Secret
The Irish are making no secret of their delight in having World No. 2 Jessica Kuerten in their side, and she is joined in Robert Splaine's squad by Cian O'Connor, Marie Burke, Denis Lynch and Edward Doyle.
Ireland, Switzerland, and the USA all shared runner-up spot in La Baule, but the Swiss will be hoping to look more impressive this time around, having struggled in the opening stages at the French fixture before making a dramatic recovery. Beat Mandli, Daniel Etter, Theo Muff, Werner Muff and Niklaus Schurtenberger have been called up, and Chef d'Equipe Rolf Grass will be expecting a good deal more consistency.
George Morris' American line-up is exactly the same as last time, including Charlie Jayne, Anne Kursinski, Kate Levy, Nicole Shahinian-Simpson and Will Simpson. It is three years since the U.S. took the title in their runaway 2005 season, and they are right in the game once again.
Despite a solid all-round performance, The Netherlands had to settle for fifth place last time out, so Chef d'Equipe Rob Ehrens will be carefully choosing his team from the five-strong group of Marc Houtzager, Wim Schroder, Harry Smolders, Leopold Van Asten, and Vincent Voorn, who won the opening competition. Under Pressure
It is the Swedish team, however, that comes to Rome under the most pressure, and being drawn first to go tomorrow is an added disadvantage. The 2007 Samsung Super League with FEI season was a very difficult one for them, and they then started the 2008 series with a rock-bottom placing, so they really need to pull something special out of the bag to give them some stability. Rolf-Goran Bengtsson, Peter Eriksson, Peder Fredricson and Helena Lundback will be under no illusions about what team manager Maria Gretzer and the huge show-jumping fan-base in Sweden expect of them.
The Italian team completes the start list, and of course, although Italy is no longer a Samsung Super League with FEI contender since relegated after the second season in 2004, the home riders will be wanting to "wow" the home crowd. Chef d'Equipe Roberto Arioldi has five to choose from, and, no doubt, all five—Emilio Bicocchi, Omar Bonomelli, Piergiorgio Bucci, Natale Chiaudani and Giulia Martinengo—will be hoping